Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Opinion: Why it Makes Sense to Redefine Autism

Jennifer A. Pinto-Martin is the Viola MacInnes/Independence professor and chair of Biobehavioral Health Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing. She is also the director of the university's Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology. 
 
"Will my child still qualify for a diagnosis of autism?" This is the question on the minds of many parents with children who have autism. The short answer is: Most likely, yes.
As an expert panel considers changing the definition of autism in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, parents are expressing concerns about what this will mean. The manual is the standard reference for the diagnosis of mental disorders and has an important influence on insurance coverage, access to educational support and therapeutic services, as well as research in the medical community.
But rather than debating whether the change is warranted or wise, we should focus on the effects.

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