Like many parents, my first reaction when I heard about Asperger's Syndrome being dropped from the next revision of the the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual (otherwise known as the DSM-5, or the psychiatrist's "bible") was one of concern. Not because either one of my children have Asperger's, but because the idea of redefining mental illness -- which, in turn, influences whether or not insurance companies pay for treatment and how much money schools spend on special education programs -- raises so many incredibly complicated questions. The most terrifying of all, at least to me: What if we're wrong? Whether a kid is wrongly diagnosed and treated for a disorder they don't have or NOT diagnosed/treated at all for a disorder they do have -- the potential consequences are devastating. And if we're rewriting the rules now, that must mean we were getting a lot wrong for a long time, right?
First of all, Asperger's isn't disappearing, so to speak. Instead, the particular disorder will fall under the blanket "autism spectrum disorder" diagnosis, which is (finally) being added to the manual. So instead of fewer kids receiving treatment, autism experts say the changes could do the exact opposite, as some states and schools provide fewer services for children who are diagnosed with Asperger's than those with autism.
What's in a name? Funding, in this case. So it seems the changes aren't really about the nature of Asperger's Syndrome, after all. And I'm all for any changes that make help available to kids who need it.
Still, like I said, I don't have kids with Asperger's syndrome -- would I feel differently if I did?
Do you think dropping Asperger's Syndrome from the DSM-5 is a good thing for kids or not?
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