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DSM-5 Autism Day At IMFAR 2012

This blog post is by Harold Doherty. His son Conor has autism. Visit Harold's blog Facing Autism in New Brunswick for more!

You can find the original post here.

Today was DSM5 Autism Do-Over Day at IMFAR 2012.  Dr. Susan Swedo, head of the DSM5 committee that drafted the DSM5 Autism Spectrum Disorder, spoke twice today, once at a stakeholder's luncheon  and afterwards  at an oral presentation in the Grand Ballroom.  Dr. Swedo replied to my questions after the second presentation and indicated that the DSM5 Autism Spectrum Disorder will exclude some, though not all, intellectually disabled from an ASD diagnosis.

I attended both events but did not have an opportunity to question Dr. Swedo during the luncheon as the event was simply running out of time. During the luncheon presentation she was very emotional in discussing the media criticisms of the DSM5  Autism Spectrum Disorder. At one time she accused some in the media of telling lies about the motivation behind the new DSM5.  It was not done, as alleged by some, to cut back the autism epidemic and save costs for insurers.  It was done because the DSM5, according to Dr. Swedo, reflected experience with autism disorders and careful study. It was done to improve specificity in diagnosing autism not to eliminate some.  Having heard her speak with great emotion and conviction I don't question Dr. Swedo's sincerity, her compassion or the motivation behind the redefined DSM5 autism definition.  I do disagree with the specific targeting of intellectually disabled for exclusion from the DSM5.
Dr. Swedo delivered an expanded version of her presentation in a late afternoon session.  Her remarks began, as they did at the luncheon, with a vigorous attack on the media for their DSM5 coverage and misrepresentations about exclusion of high functioning persons with autism and the motives which prompted the new definition. Dr. Swedo said nothing about the exclusion of intellectually disabled until I asked voiced my concerns during the question period about the exclusion of intellectually disabled from the DSM5 definition by operation of the "not accounted for by general developmental delays" exclusionary clause in Mandatory Criterion A of the DSM5's new ASD.  Dr. Swedo indicated that the exclusionary phrase would result in exclusion of some but not all intellectually disabled from a DSM5 Autism Spectrum Disorder.  

Dr. Swedo's comments confirm that the expansion of autism in recent editions will culminate with HFA/Aspergers as the new Autism.   Many of the vast majority of persons with autism and intellectual disability that existed prior to the DSM-IV are now being kicked to the curb; removed from the autism spectrum. 

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.