Another category pertinent to these changes, which is also new to DSM-5, is social communication disorder (also known as pragmatic language disorder). This is conceptualized as impairment of pragmatics and difficulty in use of verbal and non-verbal cues of communication, affecting the ability of development of social relationships. However, this disorder is considered an ASD.

Though the changes have been positive in an effort to make the diagnosis more valid and reliable, concerns have been raised regarding how this will affect those who are on the spectrum. Specifically, individuals who are higher functioning and those with a diagnosis of AS and PDD-NOS may not meet criteria for ASD and hence may not be able to access the services they need.

It also leads to a loss of identity and uniqueness of individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s. Furthermore, it remains to be seen how state educational services and insurance companies may look at these criteria when it comes to providing services.

Sachin Relia, MD, is a psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry in Pleasanton, California.

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