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by Barbara Lester, LCSW

As a whole, I support the proposed changes to the DSM despite the controversy surrounding the potential shift.

About the Clinician or the Client? 
My professional experience with the current diagnostic nomenclature is that the diagnosis tells us more about the clinician then about the client. Some clinicians have diagnoses that they prefer to use and I can predict which diagnosis a client will get based on who they go to for their evaluation rather than the client’s symptoms (unless they go to a research based center that does hundreds of evaluations a year).

Creating Consistency 
I believe that the proposed changes will create more consistency without so many vague choices. I think the loss that will occur is the sense of identity that some experience with the term “Asperger’s Syndrome”.

Labels 
One thing to remember is that diagnostic terms are just labels that a group has decided upon.  For instance, if someone has previously been diagnosed with Asperger’s and if the American Psychiatric Association (APA) does eliminate that term, individuals could always still say “I have Asperger’s Syndrome”.  It would be similar to people referring to the term, manic-depression,  even though APA now uses Bipolar Disorder.   If individuals would like to clarify further, they could say, “The official term is now Autism Spectrum Disorder, but I think Asperger’s Syndrome is a better description.”

Open Up The Doors 
I am hopeful, that some people who at this time are excluded from services that only cover clients with “Autistic Disorder” might stand a chance of getting covered for those services.

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