Diagnostic Criteria Changes: What Your Family Needs To Know

January 25, 2012


Coming up in May 2013, proposed changes to the DSM diagnostic criteria will greatly affected the lives of families living with autism.  Over the last week, the media has picked up with this story in a big way.

In the 12 years history of TACA I have never heard of a family excited about an autism diagnosis and the “abundant” services available to their child.  This is an argument some in the media are providing for the proposed diagnostic changes (1). Some articles are describing the problem and concerns in a good way for families that had little help before may have little to no help after May 2013 (2).

As with every topic important to our children, TACA wants families to become educated on any issue that will greatly determine if your child qualifies for support or doesn’t.  In December we published an article addressing this important issue and how it may impact families. To get up to date, please read:  http://tacanow.org/family-resources/autism-vs-aspergers-syndrome-diagnosis/

What we do know in the 12 year history of TACA,

  • Families are often fighting a very uphill battle for the little support they receive. Nothing comes easy.
  • Over the past four years due to economic issues, services available to families have drastically been cut from state budgets.
  • Often the front line providers to families living with a child affected by autism are health insurance companies and school districts. Like families, these resources are overwhelmed with the increase in autism and the needs of children living with autism.
  • We agree the diagnostic criteria needs to have a better description about the individual and what is needed to help them make meaningful progress to live their lives to the fullest potential. We cannot just ignore an individual in need because “they are not autistic enough”.  This is a recipe for disaster.
  • We want to CDC to take the opportunity and update the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) numbers as soon as possible. Taking away the numbers of those affected through diagnostic changes does not make the issue go away. Autism is still very much a crisis affecting 1 in every 91 children (3). Our families deserve an update to this important statistic.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has recently opened for more comments from any concerned parties. The best route to share your views and the proposed changes are via email at dsm5@psych.org. You can read updates and obtain more information from their website at www.dsm5.org.

All of us at TACA realize this will affect the hundreds of thousands of families living with autism. We will be watching this issue closely and sharing updates often with our members. Your first and most important step today is: Get educated whether or not you have a child with autism. This issue is critical and will affect every household – not just those living with autism.



1)       http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/01/dsm5-youre-still-autistic-youre-just-weird-you-were-not-sure-about-call-us-tomorrow.html

2)      http://ideas.time.com/2012/01/20/the-one-question-we-should-be-asking-about-the-new-autism-definition/?xid=gonewsedit

3)       http://tacanow.org/family-resources/latest-autism-statistics-2/