Asperger’s Syndrome Dropped From US Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual, Change Not Related To Newtown Shootings

Asperger’s Syndrome, defined as a mild form of autism with varying degrees of functionality, has been dropped from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Used and compiled by the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic handbook, the DSM-5 is one of the most widely referenced texts for the entire profession.

The term “Asperger’s disorder” will not appear in the latest edition of the DSM-5, which is due out in May 2013.

Instead, the symptoms of this disorder will be absorbed into the newly added “autism spectrum disorder” already in use, Reuters reports.

The expanded category will cover the spectrum of severe autism right through to those with much milder forms of the condition and will affect the diagnosis, treatment, and medical insurance of millions around the world, The Guardian notes.

In the first major update of the DSM in nearly 20 years, other changes include the re-terming of abnormal and frequent temper tantrums in children to “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” (DMDD) instead of “bipolar disorder,” the renaming of “gender identity disorder” to “gender dysphoria,” and a widening of the dyslexia category.

Concerns had been raised on the DSM revision panel and among families with Asperger’s members about the dropping of a specific diagnosis for Asperger’s. Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, an autism researcher at the University of California Los Angeles, said:

“One of the biggest concerns is that some who are higher functioning will no longer meet the more stringent criteria and will therefore have difficulty getting services.”

A 2012 study conducted by Dr. Fred Volkmar of the Yale School of Medicine suggested around 45 percent of those currently diagnosed with autism or a related disorder would no longer qualify under the new definition, according to Reuters.

After the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and indications that Adam Lanza reportedly may have been diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder, public awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome is the highest it’s ever been.