Yale Daily News: Redefinition of autism sparks concerns

3 Feb

The proposed changes to the way autism is diagnosed with the DSM 5 has sparked a lot of discussion in the online autism communities and elsewhere. A surge in the discussion came in response to a New York Times article New Definition of Autism Will Exclude Many, Study Suggests, in which the Times discussed preliminary results of a study by Prof. Volkmar of Yale.

The Times put the emphasis on reducing the “autism surge”, quoting Prof. Volkmar as saying “We would nip it in the bud”:

The new analysis, presented Thursday at a meeting of the Icelandic Medical Association, opens a debate about just how many people the proposed diagnosis would affect.

The changes would narrow the diagnosis so much that it could effectively end the autism surge, said Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine and an author of the new analysis of the proposal. “We would nip it in the bud.”

The Yale Daily News has an article “Redefinition of autism sparks concerns” where they sought more dicussion from Prof. Volkmar:

“I think [the proposed revision] is a mistake,” Volkmar said. “It changes people’s eligibility for key services, and a lot of people expressed concern.”

He said the change would not only affect autistic patients’ access to medication and medical services, but also impact their eligibility for special schools. Volkmar also questioned the scientific validity of the decision.

You can read more about this story on the Yale Daily News website.

5 Responses to “Yale Daily News: Redefinition of autism sparks concerns”

  1. RAJ February 3, 2012 at 20:37 #

    Why wouldn’t Yale publish this article favorable to Fred Volkmar’s views. He heads the Yale study group on autism. Volkmar headed the field trials for DSM-III-R (1987) and DSM-IV(1994). Volkmar has been subjected to criticism for his direct contribution to the so-called ‘autism epidemic’.

    He either resigned or was given the chance to resign from the working group on DSM5 autism. He either considers himself to be a whistleblower on the wrong headedness of the DSM5 working group on autism or is a disgruntled partisan defending his own role in the false epidemic of autism.

    • Sullivan February 3, 2012 at 20:49 #

      Sorry RAJ, could you explain? I don’t believe I have insight into what Prof. Volkmar is thinking, whereas you have repeatedly suggested you do. The minor question is not whether the Yale newspaper is favorable to his views, it is what those views are. You have made statements about what you perceived those views to be.

      Does he feel that the majority of those currently diagnosed with autism are (a) accurately diagnosed and should keep the diagnosis and services (as the quote in the article noted above would indicate) or (b) feels that there is a “false epidemic of autism” as you assert?

      On a more substantive note, do you think it worthwhile to wait for actual data? Perhaps from Prof. Volkmar’s paper and from the DSM-5 field trials? Just to be clear, that’s my position. That we need to work from data. Not your opinion. Certainly not your opinion of what someone else thinks…especially when you seem to be wrong on that point.

  2. Laurentius Rex February 4, 2012 at 12:34 #

    It’s not often I find myself in agreement with RAJ, but he is right about Volkmar. Volkmar knows it is a political game, he admitted as much when I challenged him over DSMIV and the invention of the “Asperger’s Disorder” many years ago.

    What wins in each subsequent revision of DSM is not anything like the truth, it is whoever has the most powerful lobby and every so often the orthodoxy shifts. Poor old Fred, he must be feeling rather left behind, but then to Yale, Asperger’s Disorder simply represents big bucks and to some a career.

    I am content to keep the lable, but not on APA’s or Volkmar’s terms. Once it is relinquished as a diagnosis, it remains a viable and valid identity for some, and it doesn’t need Volkmar’s help in keeping that, quite the opposite.

  3. Roger Kulp February 7, 2012 at 03:53 #

    I’m sort of confused.The New York Times article and others I have read,have said people who are higher functioning would no longer be diagnosed,but Volkmar specifically mentions those with intellectual disability.Does this mean people at both ends of the spectrum would now be excluded?

  4. Sheogorath February 9, 2012 at 01:21 #

    @ Laurentius Rex: Please could you tell me when exactly Asperger’s Syndrome was invented? I’d be very much intersted to know.

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