Updates to the DSM-V: What do the changes mean to families living with Autism?

In order to receive a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, a person must have all three of the following deficits:

  • Problems reciprocating social or emotional interaction – This can include difficulty establishing or maintaining back-and-forth conversations and interactions, inability to initiate an interaction, and problems with shared attention or sharing of emotions and interests with others.
  • Severe problems maintaining relationships – This can involve a complete lack of interest in other people, difficulties playing pretend and engaging in age-appropriate social activities, and problems adjusting to different social expectations.
  • Non-verbal communication problems – This can include abnormal eye contact, posture, facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures, as well as an inability to understand these non-verbal signals from other people.

Repetitive and Restrictive Behaviors

In addition, the individual must display at least two of these behaviors:

  • Extreme attachment to routines and patterns and resistance to changes in routines
  • Repetitive speech or movements
  • Intense and restrictive interests
  • Difficulty integrating sensory information or strong seeking or avoiding behavior of sensory stimul

latest edition of theĀ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, called the DSM-V, includes some significant changes to diagnostic criteria for autism, grouping several previously separate disorders under one umbrella. If you or your child are on the autism spectrum or you’re in the process of being diagnosed, it’s important to understand these changes in the DSM-V, the reasons for the new definition, and how the changes may affect you.

When a doctor or psychologist diagnoses someone with autism, he or she compares the individual’s behavior with the criteria laid out in the DSM. If the behavior fits the description listed in the text, then the individual may be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

The new revision of the DSM included a different definition of ASD. To be diagnosed with ASD, and individual must have displayed symptoms starting in early childhood, and those symptoms must impair the individual’s ability to function in day-to-day life.


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