Will Autism Changes Mean Special Ed Changes?

By Vanessa M. Sheehan

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), provides a list of standard symptoms for diagnosing mental disorders. Recently, the APA proposed revisions for inclusion in the upcoming fifth version (DSM 5).

As a school leader, you may find this news important. The updated version could change how autism is diagnosed, and those revisions could result in fewer students receiving special education services.

The proposed new criteria would combine various developmental disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder-not-otherwise-specified (PDD-NOS), into a single classification known as autism spectrum disorder.

In addition, the revisions would change the way symptoms associated with autism are categorized for the purpose of diagnosis. According to one analysis, the current criteria result in 2,027 combinations of symptoms that yield a diagnosis of autism, while the proposed criteria would yield only 11 possible combinations.

Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.