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The Definition of Autism: About to Change? (page 2)

The Definition of Autism: About to Change?

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Updated on Jan 25, 2012

How It Affects You

The redefining of autism as a mental disorder could have serious repercussions. If you have a child with Asperger's or who's been diagnosed with P.D.D.-N.O.S., the diagnosis may no longer be recognized by the medical community or disability panels. This could result in the removal of resources and services offered to you under the current system. If your child has been diagnosed with autism, a reevaluation might be necessary to compare symptoms against the new definition, to check for qualification.

"I know there are distinct differences in the way one educates an individual with Asperger's syndrome versus even a high-functioning individual with an autistic disorder," warns VanBergeijk. "The proposed reorganization of the diagnostic categories makes the distinction less clear...Without intervention, individuals on the autism spectrum face a 90% lifetime unemployment rate."

Even if you don't have a child with autism or an ASD, you could still be affected. If your school currently has the resources to have separate classes for ASD students, those classes could be removed due to a lack of funding—meaning bigger classes and a larger spectrum of learning for a single classroom.

It's a difficult decision for the panel, who are making the choice between lowering the skyrocketing autism diagnosis rate and offering help to those who are currently defined as autistic. While it's true that many higher-functioning ASD individuals can hold jobs, have relationships and function in society, other resources for learning disabilities and doctor's visits may still be required. Under the proposed changes, families who have come to rely on resources, schools and disability pay could be left in the cold.

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