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Asperger's Syndrome Dropped From American Psychiatric Assoc. Manual

5:24 PM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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(CBS News)-- Asperger's syndrome will be dropped from the latest edition of the psychiatrist's "bible," the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced on Saturday the changes to its flagship manual that doctors use to diagnose patients with mental disorders. It's the first major rewriter to the DSM in nearly 20 years.

The familiar "Asperger's," along with some similar disorders, will be lumped together under autism spectrum disorder, "to help more accurately and consistently diagnose children with autism," the APA said in a statement.

Other changes include entries for new disorders such as "hoarding disorder" or "disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD)," the latter characterized by abnormally bad and frequent temper tantrums. "Dyslexia" and other learning disorders that some feared would be removed from the manual, remained.

"We developed DSM-5 by utilizing the best experts in the field and extensive reviews of the scientific literature and original research, and we have produced a manual that best represents the current science and will be useful to clinicians and the patients they serve," APA president Dr. Dilip Jeste, said in a written statement.

Full details of all the revisions will come in May 2013 when the APA's new manual is published, but the impact will be huge, affecting millions of children and adults worldwide. The manual also is important for the insurance industry in deciding what treatment to pay for, and it helps schools decide how to allot special education.

It "shapes who will receive what treatment," said Dr. Mark Olfson, a Columbia University psychiatry professor who was not involved in the revision process. More important, he said, "Even seemingly subtle changes to the criteria can have substantial effects on patterns of care."

The aim is not to expand the number of people diagnosed with mental illness, but to ensure that affected children and adults are more accurately diagnosed so they can get the most appropriate treatment, said Dr. David Kupfer, who chaired the task force in charge of revising the manual, and is a psychiatry professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

One of the most hotly argued topics ahead of the revisions was how to define the various ranges of autism. Some advocates opposed the idea of dropping the specific diagnosis for Asperger's. People with that disorder often have high intelligence and vast knowledge on narrow subjects but lack social skills.

Some who have the condition embrace their quirkiness and vow to continue to use the label. And some Asperger's families opposed any change, fearing their kids would lose a diagnosis and no longer be eligible for special services.

 

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