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Changes to Mental Disorders Manual Impact Those with Autism

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(Memphis) Big changes are coming in the way mental disorders are diagnosed as the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual is published this weekend.

It’s the first major update in 20 years and it’s getting mixed reviews from medical professionals.

Executive Director of Bartlett’s Transformations Autism Treatment Center Tracy Palm said the changes are a positive move for those with autism.

“By having that broader diagnosis it might help with diagnosing some of those kids earlier on and getting them the services they need before it becomes a problem in the school system,” said Palm.

With the changes Asperger’s disorder will not be considered "autism spectrum disorder."

“Early intervention for kids with autism is vital. It actually goes in and can change the way their brain is operating and actually heal a lot of the characteristics that they have,” said Palm.

Palm is a behavior therapist and said the need for autism treatment has grown tenfold in the past several years, “Right now the stats are showing 1 in 88 children has autism."

Other changes in the mental disorder manual include broadening the definition of ADHD, a new diagnosis for severe recurrent temper tantrums and eliminating the term “gender identity disorder."

The changes will impact the way the insurance industry decides how to cover certain treatments and help school systems allot special needs resources.

Palm said the changes are a great move for families looking to live with autism, “Autism is a wife spectrum and a lot of doctors and things like that have a hard time differentiating between things like PDD, Asperger’s, autism and they kind of all blend together."