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The APA Debates Removing the Term “Asperger’s” From the DSM-5

May 31, 2011

Although Asperger’s syndrome was first described in 1944, it was not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until the publication of the Fourth Edition, in 1994. Earlier this year, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced that they are considering deleting the term “Asperger’s” from the forthcoming Fifth Edition of the DSM, scheduled to be published in 2013. Instead of using Asperger’s syndrome when diagnosing a patient, the APA’s Neurodevelopmental Disorders Workgroup recommends changing the diagnosis to an “autism spectrum disorder.” They feel that this change in diagnosis will have a positive impact on each patient’s individual special skills and needs.

The Neurodevelopment Disorders Workgroup believes that combining autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), and Asperger’s into a single spectrum better reflects the pathology and symptoms; that the separation of autism spectrum disorder from typical development is reliable and valid, while separation of disorders within the spectrum is variable and inconsistent; and individuals with autism, PDD-not otherwise specified, or Asperger’s disorder are frequently diagnosed by severity, rather than unique, separate criteria defining the three diagnoses.

Many physicians feel that changing this diagnosis in this manner will have a negative impact on patients with Asperger’s. Mainly, these patients will lose their identities and be lumped in with patients with other disorders on the autism spectrum.

If you’d like to weigh in on this topic, the APA has asked for public comments via www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevision/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=94 — Christopher Naccari

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From → DSM-5

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