Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One Single Diagnosis for Autism? New DSM Criteria

It has come to my attention today that the American Psychiatric Association plans to change the autism diagnostic categories in the new version of the DSM. In particular, they are planning on removing the categories of Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)from the DSM and changing the category of Autism to be more broad. You can visit the following link to the Autism Speaks blog to view the details: Autism Speaks Official Blog

I am not completely sure how I feel about this change, being that I have one child diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and one with PDD-NOS. On the one hand, I have always just considered my children to be Autistic, regardless of their actual label so the change would not necessarily change how I view my children. If anything, it would stop some people who only see children who are diagnosed with Autism as being truly autistic from telling me that my children are not Autistic and therefor shouldn't be included in funding for services. I can't tell you how many times I have had someone accuse me of using up their child's funds for my non-autistic children.

So this change would actually put an end to MOST of that argument. I say MOST because no matter what the label there will still always be people out there who feel their children are more entitled to services than mine because their children are "more" autistic than mine. It is sad, but unfortunately how some people think.

This change would also put an end to insurance companies or schools telling us that we do not qualify for services like OT or Speech or ABA because our children are not diagnosed with Autism. That could be a good change for many people.

On the other hand, the one that is skeptical and see's conspiracy behind any change like this, fears what this will actually mean for the autism community as a whole. As most of you know, with every passing year, the percentage of children with autism has increased. Just his past year the numbers jumped from 1 in 150 a year ago to 1 in 115 now. That is a HUGE increase. And this increase is leaving insurance companies, schools, the government and the CDC scrambling and shaking in their boots. More and more people are looking at environmental causes for this epidemic that can no longer be explained by better diagnosis. One of those causes, some believe, could be the vaccines our children get but that the CDC has long denied could be a contributing factor.

In my skeptical and conspiracy riddled mind I wonder how much of this change that is "hidden" behind the greater good of our children is really nothing more than an attempt by the Medical Community to "lower" the rate of Autism so that they can then turn around and say "See? If it was the vaccines (or other environmental cause) then the rates would not have gone down?"

It has been my experience, with my own children, that doctors are hesitant to diagnose a child with Autism but less hesitant when they have PDD-NOS or Asperger's to fall back on. Now, this is just my opinion and as I said at the beginning, to me it is ALL Autism and having the diagnosis of Aspergers or PDD-NOS has still gotten us the label of Autism in the schools since they do not distinguish. But it is my fear that with only the diagnosis of Autism many doctors will be reluctant to diagnosis a child with Autism if they do not meet the original criteria that the Autism diagnosis had, regardless of any changes in the DSM.

We all know that Autism is a Spectrum disorder and that there are many differences among every child with Autism. That does not mean that doctors always agree and I remember in the beginning when I had doctors tell me that they were not comfortable with diagnosing my child on the Autism Spectrum because they did not meet all the criteria. It wasnt until much later that we finally received a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. So how many children will be left undiagnosed if this change takes place? And how will the Medical Community use the lower rate (which will undoubtably happen) to reduce our access to funds for research into why there are so many children on the Spectrum?

So I really am torn and not sure how I feel? I am not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing. I do not really know how I feel and I admit that I have a habit of looking at the negative side of things but that thinking has helped me many times in the past when I felt something was going on that should not be and I have almost ALWAYS been right when it comes to my own children. It just took digging a little deeper to find out the truth and when I have been wrong, I admitted I was wrong, but when I have been right I have been able to stop abuse and my children's rights from being ignored. So all I am suggesting is that maybe a little more digging is in order?

Again, this is all just my opinion and I know that many may not agree with me but I would really be interested in all of your thoughts? How do you feel about the change?

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm interesting. I have no experience with Autisim and am just getting into the world of ADD. Or now as it's being called all around is ADHD without the hyperactivity. My doctor is not the one giving me the problem in diagnosing this in my daughter, but rather the school is. So because she doesn't have the acting out and bad behavior in school they don't see the other things that I very clearly see in her. And I almost wonder if it has a lot to do with them referring to ADD as ADHD without the hyperactivity. Like they think they should see some aspect of the hyperactivity in a child. But yet the school doesn't know why my daughter can't read at grade level or even close to grade level. I guess there will always be nay sayers no matter how you call it. Just Autism or PDD-NOS or Aspergers. I think no matter what we will always have a fight on our hands because the bottom line always ends up being money and who's going to pay and how much for the services our children need and are entitled to. Someone is always going to interpret things differently no matter how they word something.