Don't Reduce the Criteria for an Autism Spectrum Condition in the DSM-5
WHEREAS . . . we, as adults and teens on the spectrum (as well as we, their loved ones) do not want to return to the days prior to the DSM-IV, when most of our (their) behavioral differences were thought of as character deficits
WHEREAS . . . the DSM-IV did not (as has been stated) financially drain clinical or government resources; on the contrary, the DSM-IV, in a big picture sense, actually saved money given the long-term cost of (a) children who if not educated properly would cost more in services later on, and who because of their appropriate education could be productive citizens as adults, and (b) individuals who by knowing who they were had their capacity for anxiety, depression, or anger lessened—thus decreasing incarceration and homeless rates and reducing their dependence on others to lead productive lives
WHEREAS . . . The DSM-IV did the world great good by broadening the criteria, thereby expanding our notions of behavioral pluralism and increasing the self-esteem of innumerable individuals: Furthermore, without the DSM-IV there would most likely not be anti-bullying campaigns; (given two wars since) the much-needed increase in attention to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; and a multitude of other, big picture improvements for us all
WHEREAS . . . autism spectrum diagnoses are not “over-diagnosed,” especially given our still-limited understanding of how these conditions manifest in women; and how many under-represented, economically-challenged communities (especially belonging to minority groups) still have not been properly evaluated
WHEREAS . . . the proposed changes to the DSM-5 contribute to the emotionally-destructive “competition of suffering” (between opposite ends of the spectrum) that the autism world was finally starting to back away from, wherein non-GRASP and non-like-minded entities often attempted to invalidate the seriousness of another’s experiences
WHEREAS . . . the DSM-5 has attempted to implement these changes in bad faith by releasing news thereof at a time when they had no outlet available to the public for receiving commentary
WHEREAS . . . the DSM-5 Committee’s autism spectrum experts seemingly carried no real expertise or experience with either (a) the end of the spectrum at risk with these changes, nor (b) adults; and we object not to the participation of these individuals but to the overall, and very poor composition of the Committee
WHEREAS . . . the DSM-5 Committee’s attempts at damage-control (including many statements of “Well, your child may or may not qualify, but don’t worry. Wait and see instead.”) only furthers our confusion over what their true motivations could possibly be in implementing such backward revisions
WHEREAS . . . the DSM-5 Committee is not beholden to, nor should they be guided by proven or unproven economic concerns whatsoever; that they should instead be guided solely by a concern over our mental and emotional well-being, which these changes dramatically threaten
THEREFORE . . . I believe that the proposed narrowing of criteria for an autism spectrum diagnosis will cause catastrophic and irreparable damage to (1) the future of innumerable children on the spectrum who need specialized education, (2) innumerable parents with children receiving specialized education, (3) innumerable adults on the spectrum who are receiving services under the current criteria, and (4) anyone on the spectrum needing to know that their behavioral differences are the product of wiring, and not personal defect. Don’t reduce the criteria for an autism spectrum condition in the DSM-5.
Michael John Carley
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