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What DSM-5 Could Mean to Children With Autism and Their Families

Neal Halfon, MD, MPH1,2,3,4; Alice A. Kuo, MD, PhD2,3,4,5,6
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Public Policy, Luskin School of Public Affairs, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
2Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
3Department of Health Policy and Management, Fielding School of Public Health, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
4Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
5Department of Internal Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
6Center for Autism Research and Treatment, University of California, Los Angeles
JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(7):608-613. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2188.
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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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