The American Psychiatric Association will update its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to its fifth edition (DSM-5). With this new edition, the classification and diagnostic criteria for the spectrum of autistic disorders will change and become more specific and potentially more restrictive. Rather than maintaining several subcategories of autism including Asperger syndrome, there will be one new category called autism spectrum disorder. This change may alter which children are diagnosed as having autism as well as modify eligibility for treatment, educational, and other support services. We review the history and rationale for the proposed changes as well as several recent studies that have attempted to gauge the impact of these changes on children and families. We also consider how the proposed changes are likely to create new challenges for parents who are attempting to organize their children’s care and for pediatricians who are providing that care and assisting with care coordination.
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