Melinda Beck reviews the upcoming overhaul of the DSM-4 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders):

Asperger’s syndrome is out and hoarding is in, and starting next year, psychiatrists may diagnose some children with a new “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” if they have severe tantrums three or more times a week for more than a year.

Beck then brings up perhaps the most controversal change in the new DSM-5, the official guide to classifying psychological disorders:

One of the biggest flash points has been over autism and related disorders. The DSM-5 will combine subcategories such as Asperger’s syndrome, a mild version of the condition, and “pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified” into a single category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Some experts and parents fear the new criteria may exclude many children currently diagnosed with ASD, estimated to affect 1 out of 88 children in the U.S.

I think recognizing that symptoms of autism reside on a spectrum and calling it such is a good idea.  “ASD” is a diagnosis that should make getting developmental, therapeutic, and educational services for these kids easier, not harder.  I do not share the fears that the new criteria will exclude children already diagnosed with ASD.  In fact, my concern is the opposite:  placing a child who may be a bit awkward and quirky socially into a diagnostic spectrum in which they otherwise don’t belong would be inappropriate for that child and, perhaps, for society as a whole.  There are lots of people in this world who are “different.”  I like to think that more of these people are “variations of normal” rather than unique diagnostic entities.

Read Melinda Beck’s WSJ.com article, which reviews other changes for the new DSM-5,  here.