Asperger's is the New Autism: No Intellectually Disabled Allowed in the DSM-5's New Autism Spectrum Disorder


"the autism umbrella has since widened to include milder forms, says Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, it now includes Asperger syndrome, where the sufferer is socially impaired, but experiences typical language development. Another difference between past and present autism diagnosis involves the presence of intellectual disabilities, adds Yeargin-Allsopp. During the 1960s and 1970s, the vast majority of those diagnosed with autism had an intellectual disability but today, only about 40% have one."

Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, Canadian Medical Association Journal,CMAJ • July 13, 2010; 182 (10). First published June 7, 2010; doi:10.1503/cmaj.109-3274  

Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp's description of the diminution of autism's vast majority, those with intellectual disability, is noteworthy today as we await the commencement of the DSM-5 era and the complete elimination from any autism diagnosis of persons with intellectual disabilities. That accomplishment will be achieved by the DSM-5's New Autism Spectrum Disorder definition and diagnostic criteria which expressly exclude an ASD diagnosis in instances of general developmental delay:

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The New Autism Spectrum Disorder in the DSM-5 will eliminate any debates over the exent of intellectual disability amongst those with autism spectrum disorders.  The new definition will complete the process begun in the DSM-IV of diminishing the rates of ID amongst those with autism by changing the definition of autism to exclude those with intellectual disability.   The formula is simple and straight forward.  To be diagnosed with autism a person must meet all 4 criteria, A, B, C and D.  Criteria A requires the presence of "persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across contexts, not accounted for by general developmental delays".   If a person suffers from "general developmental delay" that will account for persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across contexts and the person will not meet the mandatory Criterion A and will not  receive an autism spectrum diagnosis under the new DSM-5.

General developmental delays is a reference to the DSM-5 diagnostic category of Intellectual Developmental Disorder (IDD) which is described as including a current intellectual deficit and a deficit in adaptive functioning.  IDD is further described in two of the mandatory criteria for meeting and IDD diagnosis  as including deficits in general mental abilities. IDD mandatory criterion B refers expressly to impaired functioning in areas of daily life including communication and social participation.  An IDD diagnosis then would account for deficits in social communicaiton and social interaction and preclude an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis under the DSM-5.

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The exclusion of an autism diagnosis for persons who are generally developmentally delayed is a substantive change from the DSM-IV  which did not exclude an Autistic Disorder diagnosis in persons who suffered from  general developmental delay, intellectual disability or mental retardation:

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The exclusion of persons with Intellectual Developmental Disorders from the New Autism Spectrum Disorder does have a precedent in the DSM-IV.  It is found in the DSM-IV's Asperger's Disorder which states in Criterion E that "there is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills".  And there it is "no cognitive development delay" from the DSM-IV Asperger's Disorder criteria becomes not accounted for by general developmental delay in the DSM-5's Autism Spectrum Disorder.   Asperger's becomes the New Autism in DSM-5 World.

Autism Speaks has long been aware of the APA intention to remove persons with intellectual disability from consideration for autism spectrum disorder diagnoses. Autism Speaks rarely mentions intellectual disability as an autism concern.   It has already been busy presenting Asperger's to the public as Autism  with the promotion of the careers and influence of John Elder Robison and Alex Plank

Autism Speaks also helped fund the Korean "autism" prevalence study of Roy Richard Grinker who has been busy recasting Asperger's as autism and who went looking for "autism" amongst Korean students who functioned well in Korea's highly structured school environments.  No intellectually disabled were included amongst Grinker's findings of  large numbers of previously unknown autistics.  Of course Professor Grinker, the APA and "Autism Without Intellectual Disability Speaks" will have to readjust their autism prevalence numbers once the DSM-5 officially takes effect.  They will have to revise their autism rates downward to reflect the removal of persons with DSM-IV Autistic Disorder and intellectual disability from the DSM-5's Autism Spectrum Disorder. Asperger's is the New Autism. 


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