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Our Passion for DSM-5 Revision of the Diagnostic Criteria for Autism

Updated: Mar 7


A rainbow gradient image of Dr. Michael B. First and the DSM-5-TR Cover
Dr. Michael B First and DSM-5-TR Cover

Background

On March 18, 2022, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will release the DSM-5-TR which includes updates as to how the criteria for autism spectrum disorder should be interpreted by clinicians. The updated specification seeks to make formal diagnosis less accessible, especially for people who present with less support needs and less outwardly expressed symptoms of social and sensory impairment. Any constricting revisions to these specifications refute current qualitative research on the heterogeneity of the autism spectrum. Any constriction seeks to gatekeep proper diagnosis, continue the spread of misinformation about autistic people, and consequently will bar thousands of people from receiving affirming, life-saving therapies and treatment.


Per a recent podcast, the co-chair of the DSM revision, Dr. Michael B. First, stated that the more conservative criteria seeks to reduce the prevalence rate of autism diagnoses, because being "on the spectrum" is overdiagnosed and has become too culturally prevalent. Dr. First gives zero regard to any current research—research that seeks to validate the experiences of people with all levels of support needs—people from all communities, races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, ability levels, and socioeconomic statuses who fall on the autism spectrum.


Dr. First gives zero concern for how this will harm our communities; how this will harm people of color; how this will harm females; how this will harm non-binary and transgender folx; how this will harm disabled people; and how this will harm people who live with the challenges of being autistic in an allistically-designed world. It seeks to protect insurers from covering affirming therapies and from providing access to psychotherapeutic supports for people on the autism spectrum. Lastly, these revisions seek to further marginalize autistics by diminishing and invalidating our lived experiences as autistic people.


What We're Intending to Do

Over the next several months, we will be putting together a comprehensive file of relevant autism clinical studies, meta-analyses, online resources, and first-hand accounts that seek to tell the true autism story from people who experience the world through the autistic lens. Ultimately, we plan to submit a professionally authored, evidence-backed proposal for DSM-5 revision of autism spectrum disorder to the American Psychiatric Association.


What You Can Do

Sign Our Petition. Head over to change.org to sign our petition. If and when we generate enough signatures to show a substantial impact, the petition will become part of our proposal to the APA for inclusive diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder.


Volunteer. If you'd like to get involved or assist in the effort for visibility in any way, please reach out to our bustling baby startup on our contact page.


Keep Talking About It. These changes affect our loved ones and our communities. Join us in continuing the discourse about neurodivergence and disability.


Stay tuned for updates when the new criteria are released on March 18th.


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