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Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


Where Did the DSM-5 Criteria for ASD Come From and Where Are They Going to Take Us?

Lord CathyCatherine Lord, Ph.D., (Center for Autism and the Developing Brain)


Abstract: The proposed changes to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) were first discussed in 1999, when key leaders of the American Psychiatric Association and the National Institute of Mental Health decided to work together on expanding the scientific basis for psychiatric diagnosis and classification. This presentation will discuss how autism is currently being diagnosed and the various factors that have made diagnosing autism more challenging. Social, behavioral, and communication challenges and the characteristics that are often associated with individuals having ASD, will be defined and explained in the context of daily living (specifically in the home and school environment). The importance of evidence-based treatments and access to various types of services meant to improve quality of life for individuals with ASD will be highlighted. The presentation will explain why it is necessary to revise the DSM IV-TR criteria and discuss the process through which the new criteria for DSM-5 Neurodevelopmental Disorders have been developed. Clinical, political, and scientific questions about the criteria will be outlined. Research that contributed to the development of the criteria and what occurred subsequent to the first drafts of the Autism Spectrum Disorders criteria will be addressed. Strategies that concerned families and service providers may use to decrease confusion and possible misuse of the new criteria will be provided.


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