(NEW YORK) — What has been known as Asperger’s disorder will become part of the “autism spectrum disorder” in a major rewrite of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, coming out this spring.
Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, says despite the broad term, the new fifth edition of the manual will be more specific when it comes to describing different symptoms and suggesting treatments.
“It will better define the cluster of symptoms that people are experiencing, so it will improve access to treatment for anyone who is diagnosed,” Singer says. “I think the issue needs to be more about the services that people need, and not the label that we put on them.”
But not everyone is happy about Asperger’s patients being included in a larger group, says Michael John Carley, director of the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership.
“I think that a lot of people have identity at stake with the term Aspergers being lost,” he says.
The new manual will also eliminate references to “gender identity disorder.” Activists have said that calling it a disorder is stigmatizing. Children or adults who believe they were born in the wrong body will now have “gender dysphoria.”
The manual helps the insurance industry decide which treatments to pay for, and it helps schools decide how to allot special education.
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