As two national organizations committed to working to empower the autism and Autistic communities today and into the future, the Autism Society of America and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network issue the following joint statement regarding the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder within the DSM-5.
The autism spectrum is broad and diverse, including individuals with a wide range of functional needs, strengths and challenges. The DSM-5′s criteria for the new, unified autism spectrum disorder diagnosis must be able to reflect that diversity and range of experience.
Over the course of the last 60 years, the definition of autism has evolved and expanded to reflect growing scientific and societal understanding of the condition. That expansion has resulted in improved societal understanding of the experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum and their family members. It has also led to the development of innovative service-provision, treatment and support strategies whose continued existence is imperative to improving the life experiences of individuals and families. As the DSM-5′s final release approaches and the autism and Autistic communities prepare for a unified diagnosis of ASD encompassing the broad range of different autism experiences, it is important for us to keep a few basic priorities in mind.