Response to the changes in the DSM-V

Last year, the committee working on revisions to the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition) released draft changes to the criteria used in diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The DSM is used by professionals all over the world to diagnose ASD, including Asperger’s Syndrome.


The revised criteria eliminates Asperger Syndrome as a label, and instead rolls up many of the Asperger characteristics into a larger ASD definition. The same has been done for PDD-NOS. Many children and adults who qualified for the old Asperger Syndrome diagnosis will still meet the definition of ASD under the revised criteria. However, several studies have run statistical analyses using the revised criteria, and they have shown that significant numbers of people will no longer qualify for an ASD diagnosis when assessed using the new criteria. The recent media coverage of this issue was triggered by one of these studies.


AMI has been closely monitoring this issue since the initial revisions were released last year, and we are concerned about the impact these changes may have on adults and children in our community. There are still many unanswered questions, including how these changes will affect the provision and funding of supports and services. AMI will continue to advocate for these supports and services, regardless of any changes to the DSM. We will also pursue greater clarity on the impact of these changes, if and when they are made final.


We encourage members and interested/affected parties to review the revised criteria here You can email the DSM committee at to let them know your immediate concerns, although it is unclear whether they are registering these unsolicited comments at this time. In spring of this year, the DSM committee will reopen their site to officially receive comments from the public, and AMI will post a link to the comments area of the DSM site at that time. In the meantime, we encourage affected individuals and families to discuss any specific questions you have with your health care provider, psychologist or psychiatrist. You can also leave a comment here to share your concerns or comments with AMI.


Please find some additional information that has been published by various media sources:

A Specialists’ Debate on Autism Has Many Worried Observers

New Definition of Autism Will Exclude Many, Study Suggests

Experts Consider Changing Definition of Autism


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