Let’s Talk! about changing the definition of autism

January 24, 2012 by cpehrson

picture of a face focusing on the lips

Rates of autism and related disorders like Asperger syndrome have increased dramatically since the early 1980s. Many researchers suspect that these numbers are rising because of vagueness in the current criteria, which are now under review by an expert panel.

Researchers at Yale University found recently that putting into place the proposed changes in the definition of autism could exclude about three-quarters (up to a million) of those now diagnosed with milder forms of autism called Asperger syndrome.  This could potentially reduce their access to the health, educational, and social services they need.

The proposed revision to the American Psychiatric Association’s definition would take effect in 2013, if approved.

What do you think about these proposed changes?

That is our latest Let’s Talk! topic today.  Tell us what you think about the following questions:

What are the benefits of having a narrower definition for autism?

Do you think having a narrower definition of autism would exclude many from receiving services they need and prevent them from reaching their potential?

Do you think having a narrower definition could permit more specific patient care and treatment to those who need it most?

If your life or your child’s may change if autism is redefined, how are you getting your family ready?

Do you have any advice for families who may face these changes?

The Let’s Talk! blog gives readers a chance to let us know how you feel about the issues and concerns that affect the lives of people with disabilities and their families and to hear what others think.

Please let us know of other topics that you would like to talk about.

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2 Responses to “Let’s Talk! about changing the definition of autism”

  • Connie Pehrson Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Lucy.  The changes certainly could have the impacts that you outlined, but, hopefully, somewhere along the way, they will do what is best for the children, not just what is best economically.

  • Lucy Ann Lance Says:

    This change would be a detriment to so many families.  However, it may make it easer to force insurance companies to include autism treatments in their coverage by reducing the number of children who would qualify, which is what I think is really behind this move. Nonetheless, this will just give school districts the ability to exclude many children from receiving the assistance they need in the classroom and from requiring districts to provide certain therapies.  To ensure children with autism reach their full potential, we need to have the best resources for them starting right from the first diagnosis.  Otherwise, this nation is going to have a huge population of adults who will need even greater care and funding in the future. 

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