Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2012


The new definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is expected to appear in May 2013 in the finalized Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) -5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2012). The current DSM-IV criteria uses Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) as the umbrella term for autism, a classification that many professionals believe has been outdated for several years. ASD will be the new name for the category that includes “autistic disorder (autism), Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified” (APA, 2012). It will also serve to better differentiate autism spectrum disorder from typical development as well as from similar but otherwise "nonspectrum" disorders. The hope is to reduce variability in diagnosis and subject recruitment across sites, especially those criteria associated with severity, language level, or intelligence. The purpose of the new definition is to (a) view autism through a wider lens, (b) support better diagnosis, more clarity in patient-centered outcomes research, and targeted interventions, and (c) provide a classification system more responsive to evolving clinical and scholarly discoveries by moving to an online, more easily edited format.