Jan 25, 2018 in Nursing

Autism and the New DSM-V

Autism and the New DSM-V

  1. PICOT question

    Do the fundamental changes in DSM-V have a great impact on the diagnostics of autistic disorders?

  2. Background information

According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NHS), autism belongs to the category of diseases caused by problems with the environment. In this context, the environment is understood as food, drugs, air, water, consumption of necessary nutritious microcells, and the content of toxins in the surrounding environment that get into an organism. Everything around a person can bear a potential threat and become a source of problems in an organism. A child suffering from autism cannot build a healthy relationship with other people, which is very important in society. This inability can have serious consequences, which can affect the relationship between a mother and a child at the beginning of a child’s life. It is important to know that children with autism show affection towards their mothers and other people who care for them. However, the ways in which a child with autism expresses love and affection strongly differ from those of normal children. About 80% of children with autism have considerable problems with training (intellectual retardation). This indicates the central importance of autism in the psychiatry of intellectual retardation, where its identification often allows explaining the existent violations (NHS, 2012).

Autism is also widespread among people with intellectual backwardness. Thus, the disease affects 17% and its frequency reaches 27% among people with IQ less than 50. At present, it is considered that autism is not an illness; it is symptomatology. The nature of this phenomenon has not been fully studied yet, and nobody knows how to cure this disease. It is referred to as autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) includes the updated data on the diagnostics of autistic disorders. At present, this is the main book of the classification of mental disorders and psychological illnesses.

The revised diagnosis represents a new, more accurate, and medically and scientifically useful way of diagnosing individuals with autism-related disorders. (APA, 2013)

The changes made by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in May 2013 resulted in some panic among patients diagnosed with autism. It was caused by the assumption that a child will not fall within the criteria of autism and, consequently, will not receive necessary medical services.

The main amendments made by the APA include two fundamental changes in the diagnostics of autistic disorders. First of all, they cancel the previous division of autism into subtypes, including autism and Asperger syndrome; they are united into one common diagnosis called “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD). Secondly, the existing three groups of symptoms, social violations, deficiency of communicative skills, and repeated or limited behavior are united into 2 groups: violations in social communication and repeated/limited behavior. Among the minor changes, it is possible to note that the DSM-V gives a special description of the female autism phenotype. Moreover, the new edition of the DSM pays more attention to the history of a patient, investigating all symptoms occurring in the patient’s earlier history. These changes possess powerful scientific justification. However, they have not only scientific application. They can also influence the diagnostics of ASD, affect access to services, and also influence the measurement of the ASD prevalence.

The DSM-5 criteria were tested in real-life clinical settings as part of DSM-5 field trials, and analysis from that testing indicated that there will be no significant changes in the prevalence of the disorder. The study found that DSM-5 criteria identified 91 percent of children with clinical DSM-IV PDD diagnoses, suggesting that most children with DSM-IV PDD diagnoses will retain their diagnosis of ASD using the new criteria. (APA, 2013)

According to the DSM-V committee, all people diagnosed with ASD, including those with Asperger syndrome, can keep the diagnosis of ASD. It means that anybody with the current diagnosis can leave it despite the changes in the diagnostic criteria. Moreover, the DSM-V committee emphasized that the new criteria of DSM-V represent “a living document,” which can be supplemented by new changes in the process of further research (Dawson, 2013).

Research strategy

The following databases will be used while researching the problem of autism and the new DSM-V: the databases of the APA, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, Questia database.

The following keywords will be used to perform the research: autism, intellectual backwardness, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger syndrome, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

Search limitations. The research is limited to the scientifically proven studies of the governmental medical organizations. The search is limited to such interventions as autism, intellectual backwardness, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger syndrome. There is a limitation of the choice of sources, according to their relevance and validity. Moreover, the search is limited only to a human research.


  1. American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Autism spectrum disorders. Retrieved from http://www.dsm5.org/Documents/Autism%20Spectrum%20Disorder%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
  2. Dawson, G. (2013). American psychiatric association approves DSM-V revisions. Autism Speaks. Retrieved from http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/american-psychiatric-association-approves-dsm-5-revisions
  3. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NHS). (2012). Autism: Recognition, referral, diagnosis and management of adults on the autism spectrum. Clinical guideline, no. 142. London (UK): National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Critical estimation of the articles

The chosen articles fully correspond to the researched theme. They contain relevant and approbated information about the problem of autism and changes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Moreover, the articles are taken from the reliable sources; American Psychological Association is one of them. It gives the ground to consider the paper to be relevant and the presented information to be trustworthy. 

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