Autism Spectrum Disorder in DSM 5-TR: Here is what has changed and the changes to how autism is now diagnosed.
The description of autism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has changed significantly over the years. The latest update in the DSM 5-TR explains recent overdiagnosis and a change to the criteria as seen within the medical field. This makes us wonder if there will be ramifications because of this, especially for women.
From various titles to one
Previously in the DSM 4 manual (released in 1994 – 2013) Autism Spectrum disorder came under several diagnoses, for example, Asperger’s, Autism, Autistic disorder. 2013 saw the release of the DSM 5 . Autism Spectrum Disorder was first introduced in this manual. No longer recognising terms such as Asperger’s and Autistic Disorder, the term Autism Spectrum Disorder is now the umbrella term. It also falls under three distinct levels.
- Level 1 – Little support needed.
- Level 2 – More support needed.
- Level 3 – Most support needed.
A restructure of diagnostic criteria
In the new DSM5-TR (released 2022) more changes have been made. Once again, the diagnostic criteria of Autism has been restructured. This is because within the medical world, Autism seems to be over diagnosed. Mentioning the over diagnosing issue, Dr Michael First talks about the problematic wording in the previous DSM 5.
These days, anyone who is a bit quirky could be described as being “on the spectrum”. The prevalence of diagnoses is often determined by the diagnostic structure and in the original DSM 5, the criteria allowed too much interpretation. DSM 5-TR now includes the words “all of the following” before the criteria to ensure that all are being met and consequently, this should result in fewer diagnoses.”
What’s New in the DSM-5-TR? An interview with Dr. Michael B. First
Ramification of new criteria
Autistic girls and women may be a causality of this new revision. It may lead to fewer girls and women meeting the diagnostic criteria. “With the diagnostic criteria for ASD based largely in how autism presents in males, girls can often ‘slip under the radar’ or get misdiagnosed” (Autism Awareness Australia, 2021). Already battling the male stereotype of Autism, women and girls could find themselves missing out on a diagnosis. Not meeting this new criteria could be challenging. However, understanding of how autism presents in girls and women is improving. It may see future DSM revisions addressing this more specifically.
Curious to your thoughts, is this just clarity of poor wording or another hurdle in gaining a diagnosis? Share your thoughts below.