Jodi Bouer, EBCALA board member and health insurance attorney, discussed the controversial redefinition of autism proposed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) on FOX and Friends on January 28.
A Yale School of Medicine researcher, Dr. Fred Volkmar, recently used the APA’s new criteria for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version five (DSM V) to find that only 45% of individuals who have an autism diagnosis today would retain that diagnosis. The New York Times reported extensively on this development last week.
Since diagnoses determine eligibility for services, this constricted definition would likely withhold remedial services for more than half of all individuals diagnosed with autism today. This could be a disaster for both the autism community and the wider public.
EBCALA issued a press release with other autism and environmental groups to warn of the serious risks of the proposed changes. The coalition is deeply concerned about the possible cut-off of services and about the future of scientific research. Could this redefinition jeopardize years of research and millions of dollars already invested? Has the APA fully considered all the ramifications of the proposed changes? SafeMinds Executive Director, Eric Uram, stated in the press release, “Toxic exposures to the general population change over time and having good consistent epidemiology allows researchers to judge the likelihood of a toxin being involved in autism.”
EBCALA can see no solid foundation for these proposed changes. Dr. Fred Volkmar stated in the New York Times, “The changes would narrow the diagnosis so much that it could effectively end the autism surge… We would nip it in the bud.” Ending the autism epidemic in name only is surely an unworthy goal for the APA or anyone else.
Please contact the APA to express your concern about how these changes might affect those living with autism at
- firstname.lastname@example.org or
Ask the APA what impact it expects the redefinition to have on health insurance coverage, state services, school district services, and epidemiological research. Ask the APA to explain its rationale for these changes. Tell them your views.