A new definition of autism may slow the rate of diagnosis and exclude many people from government programs that help them manage the disorder, The New York Times reported on Friday.
“The proposed changes would probably exclude people with a diagnosis who were higher-functioning,” The Times reported. It could potentially make people with less-severe symptoms ineligible for services such as special-education classes and disability benefits.
Yale’s Fred Volkmar, an author of a new analysis of the proposed redefinition, told The Times that the changes would radically reduce the rate of autism diagnosis. His team looked at a 1993 study and found that fewer than half of 372 high-functioning children and adults would qualify as autism patients under the new definition.
Other experts working on the new definition disagree with Volkmar's data, The Times reported.
The American Psychiatric Association is currently reviewing the proposed redefinition, which will appear in the fifth edition of the association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, The Times reported. The DSM. is the authoritative text that frames diagnosis, treatment, and research decisions.
“At least a million children and adults have a diagnosis of autism or a related disorder, like Asperger syndrome or 'pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified,' ” The Times reported. The new definition would collapse the three diagnosis into one—autism spectrum disorder— and would require individuals to exhibit a more-specific slate of symptoms to receive a diagnosis, according to the Times.