By Laine Podell
After the release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders one of the changes most covered by the media was the “disappearance” of Asperger’s Disorders. However, mainstream media portrayed a skewed message. To say that Asperger’s has disappeared, implies those previously classified as having Asperger’s lost their diagnosis, and that is not accurate. Rather, the term has been removed and those with a prior Asperger’s diagnosis are now to be considered on the spectrum for Autism Spectrum Disorder. This merge does not trivialize or eliminate the validity of the diagnosis; it is rather just an edit.
Yet major news sources, including coverage from Fox and CBS, have the public believing this disorder vanished from the world of mental health. For instance one headline read “Asperger’s syndrome will be dropped from the latest edition of the…DSM-5”. It is important to recognize the distinction; eliminating an illness from the DSM-V is quite different than altering the terminology. The new diagnosis of mild Autism Spectrum Disorder does not change the person behind illness.
It is important to point out that the media was correct to bring attention to this issue. The change does have an effect on certain issues, including insurance reimbursement. Although the news may be coloring their stories in a way that is deceiving, the change did occur and is important to be recognized.
At the end of the day, when debating the changes to the DSM-V, be sure to have the information beyond the headlines.