Adam Dayan, Esq.
What do you think would be the effect of changing the way that we define autism? Looks like we will soon find out. The front page of today's New York Times summarizes proposed changes to the DSM which have been the topic of conversation for months. What they want to do is narrow the definition in a way that would, effectively, weed out the "higher-functioning" (and I use that term cautiously) individuals and capture those with more severe forms of autism. People previously diagnosed with Asperger's or PDD might no longer be recognized as having autism. There is disagreement about how many people would be excluded as a result of the changes. It seems to me that it would be a significant chunk of the autism population. And even if it is mathematically a small percentage, aren't they still entitled to receive therapeutic services - whether it be because they struggle socially, emotionally, or in some other way? To the extent that a diagnosis is a sine qua non for receiving services, where does it leave those people who were previously diagnosed but from whom that diagnosis was stripped?