More research, studies are needed for changes to diagnose individuals with autism

The criteria considered in diagnosing autism have been sifted through and remarkably refined since its first classification as a “schizophrenic reaction” in the first version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, released in 1952. The disorder, which does not have a known cause as of today, has long been a confounding example of the challenges that arise in the process of revising the Holy Bible of psychology.

Decade after decade, the American Psychiatric Association chooses a panel which comprises of psychologists, clinicians and a host of other scholars. The panel has grappled with a myriad of categories to best characterize autism, but a study recently done by the panel shows that the proposed changes to the newest DSM may disqualify certain individuals who don’t pass under the new set of criteria, therefore reducing aid and other resources afflicted persons require.

In the 17 years since the release of the DSM-IV, the rise in the prevalence of autism was believed to be partly attributed to the relatively vague, ambiguous criteria in diagnosing autism or Asperger’s syndrome. This was a primary factor for the reorganization of the criteria cited under autism.

But there’s a fine line to balance when it comes to drafting new changes to the DSM, which lies between unhindered day-to-day functionality and severed operation. And it teeters among factors like schools’ budget cuts to special education services, the extent of health care coverage for treatment and the rate of diagnosis in recent years.

Many experts working on the DSM-V disagree with the study’s results, unsure about how the panel concluded the proposed changes would damagingly exclude people in need of aid only available to those diagnosed as autistic.

We can’t be certain the study’s results will play out just as it predicts if the new systematization of diagnosing autism is kept in the DSM. But for the individuals afflicted with autism and who need the services that are available to them only under the DSM-IV, the prognosis of the revisions is paramount to how they will live their lives. The suggested changes should be concluded after our knowledge of the disorder is supported by research conducted by numerous groups. Otherwise, we risk undercutting individuals of necessary resources.