Asperger's diagnosis changes

Posted at: 12/03/2012 5:54 PM
Updated at: 12/03/2012 7:36 PM
By: Christine VanTimmeren

The term, “Asperger's”, which is used to define certain disorders in children and instead, children diagnosed with it will fall under the autism spectrum. It may not sound like a big change, but some families are worried they could lose essential services.
The change is being made to the American Psychiatric Association's DSM Manual, which holds the criteria mental health professional use to diagnose patients. The current manual is being updated and the big change is that children diagnosed with Asperger's disorder will now be placed under the diagnosis of autism spectrum.

News10NBC talked with Pittsford resident Jenna Moran about how this affects her 12-year-old son. She always considered Asperger's as part of the autism spectrum. What worries her is that with the new criteria, Jackson may lose his diagnosis completely. Jackson's characteristics fit under Asperger's, but will they still fit under the autism guidelines?

 The American Psychiatric Association declined to make the change to ensure that affected children and adults are more accurately diganosed so they can get the most affective treatment.

Many parents say all the separate names can get confusing and don't make sense, so one single diagnosis simplifies things.

Jackson is extremely intelligent and loves to talk, very high functioning, so Moran hopes he doesn't lose his diagnosis and his essential services.

Moran said, “I worry for so many families. I worry about what will be the full outcome. Will children that can be helped, be left out of services and treatment and support. Support that they so desperately need.”

These revisions to the manual are the first major rewrites in nearly 20 years to the diagnostic guide for psychiatrists. Full details of all the revisions won;t come until May, but the impact will affect millions of children and adults worldwide.

Other changes include those diagnosed with gender identity disorder. The term will also be eliminated. It has been used for those who believe they were born with the wrong gender. But activists believe the condition isn't a disorder and say calling it one is stigmatizing. It will be replaced with gender dysphoria which means emotional distress over one's gender. Many people equate that with removing “homosexuality” as a mental illness which happened decades ago.