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Children's Health Council

New Autism Diagnostic Criteria May Encourage Symptomatic Approach to Drug Use

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March 15, 2012, News

The fifth edition of the DSM–the “Holy Grail” of diagnosing psychiatric disorders–proposes the umbrella term of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), replacing the current “autistic disorder.” ASD will incorporate current diagnoses of Asperger syndrome, pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder, thereby eliminating these diagnostic distinctions.

DSM-5 is expected to be officially published in May 2013, according to Dr Darrel Regier, director, division of research, American Psychiatric Association (APA) and vice-chair of DSM-5 Task Force. New ASD diagnostic criteria will emphasize social communication deficits as well as fixated interest and repetitive movement, while the severity of symptoms will be characterized as mild, moderate, severe and extreme, Reiger said, noting individuals such as Asberger and PDD-NOS patients would still fall within the spectrum.

Changes to autism diagnostic criteria will encourage drug developers to focus on specific symptom clusters, for example, specific language or social deficits, said Dr. Glen Elliott, chief psychiatrist and medical officer at Children’s Health Council, Palo Alto, California.

Read the full article in Financial Times online here.

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