Standards for Diagnosing Autism Under Review

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For years, doctors have relied on a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (DSM) to diagnose autism. But now experts are considering amending the autism spectrum, to eliminate terms for related disorders like Asperger’s and PDNOS. This change would affect 39 percent of children with autism or related disorders, meaning they would no longer meet diagnostic criteria.

During the NBC Today show segment, Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports that doctors believe autism covers too large of scope and by narrowing the playing field these kids can reach their fullest potential. On the other hand, with these changes, some kids will fall through the cracks.

Fifteen-year-old Tony Leonard is one of those kids. Leonard was two and a half when he was diagnosed with PDNOS (a mild form of autism). By getting diagnosed early, he’s spent countless hours with therapists and teachers who’ve aided in his progression. For many parents the results of the doctor’s study have struck a nerve, the possibility of losing government-funded services is terrifying.

Snyderman believes, “high functioning kids, don’t need as much help but some parents would argue that they are exactly the kind of kids you should invest in because those children are Silicon Valley of tomorrow.” For now, the definition battle is still under debate. The next DSM is expected to come out in May 2013.

Visit to watch the full NBC report

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