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No More Epidemic? Autism Definition May Change

Proposed revisions would exclude many now considered autistic: NYT
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2012 3:48 PM CST
No More Epidemic? Autism Definition May Change
Fewer people would be diagnosed with autism under new guidelines being readied.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The New York Times has what sounds like a bombshell story on autism: The American Psychiatric Association is poised to narrow the definition of the disorder so far fewer people would be considered autistic. The kicker quote from the Yale author of an analysis on the subject: "The proposed changes would put an end to the autism epidemic. We would nip it in the bud—think of it that way.” (Another expert quoted thinks he's overstating the case.) If the changes go through, however, they could make it harder for people who fall short of the new qualifications to get treatment.

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A panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association is working on the new definition for an update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Under the changes, the manual would eliminate Asperger's and a disorder known as PDD-NOS and instead group everyone under autism spectrum disorder. It also would tighten the criteria for those who get diagnosed. In one analysis based on a 1993 study, 55% of those diagnosed would not qualify under the new definition—though the authors say the percentage could be high because they focused on high-functioning patients. Full story here. (Read more autism stories.)

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