By Holly Bortfeld
TACA has been reporting on the potential effects that the proposed DSM-5 changes, which eliminated PDD, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative disorder and others, from the DSM since 20111. Now, we see the first tangible proof2 that the new diagnostic criteria will reduce the number of those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), thus losing vital services.
This new study, the first of what will be many, shows a 19% drop in those diagnosed with ASD. Read here for studies3 that show a potential of up to 80% of people with Asperger’s and PDD losing their diagnosis and services without the autism label as the DSM-5 is fully implemented.
The study also showed that the 19% who didn’t fully qualify for ASD only missed it by only ONE criteria4, so they still had significant issues, just not enough to qualify for the newly defined ASD. Unfortunately, these 19% would now only qualify for the diagnosis of Social Communication Disorder5, aka SCD, which at this point means nothing as there is no curriculum, no services, no therapies, no insurance coverage, no help. Changing the diagnosis doesn’t somehow “cure” them of their challenges, but now, they don’t qualify for the any help. This SCD diagnosis is an equivalent of no diagnosis until standards of care and therapies are provided.
The new diagnostic criteria under DSM-5 went into effect May 2013. It is already being used to deny insurance coverage, educational placements and services6 to people who don’t fit into the new definition of autism. Several states have passed or are working on passing legislation that will allow both DSM-IV and DSM-5 diagnoses so that those with a current diagnosis won’t lose their services. Unfortunately, it’s only a few states and all of the Autism Speaks’ sponsored insurance bills, in 34 states, disallows DSM-IV diagnoses7 so people in those states will be limited to this new definition for all new diagnoses.
Both AutismSpeaks8 and the American Psychological Association (APA)’s DSM-5 committee9 clearly have stated that no individual previously diagnosed with autism should be required to be re-evaluated under the new criteria. Yet some insurance companies and school districts are already requesting these re-evaluations.
From the IACC10 “Services should be based on need rather than diagnosis; it would not be appropriate for a child to be denied ASD-specific services because he or she does not meet full DSM-5 criteria if a qualified clinician or educator determines that the child could benefit from those services.” But of course, that’s what’s happening already.
Despite the promises from proponents of the DSM-5 changes, what we feared might happen is happening. Please read here to learn how to safeguard your child’s services in case they lose the ASD diagnosis11, 12.
More reading at http://www.tacanow.org/?s=dsm5