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Severity Levels in the DSM-5's New Autism Spectrum Disorder: Requiring Support, Substantial Support and Very Substantial Support

Posted Jan 30 2011 5:13am

The DSM-5 will merge the disorders now commonly referred to  as Autism Spectrum Disorders into one diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and will divide that spectrum by severity levels.  The severity levels are Level 1 - Requiring Support, Level 2 - Requiring Substantial Support, and Level 3 - Requiring Very Substantial Support.  Intellectual Disability, as expected,  is not mentioned in this classification scheme even though it is obvious that Intellectual Disability will be common amongst persons with Level 3 Autism Spectrum Disorder and non-existent in the Level 1 ASD where most persons currently diagnosed with Aspergers will be reclassified.

I believe that the failure to acknowledge fully the relationship between Intellectual Disability and Autism Disorders is a form of Intellectual Dishonesty. As long as we continue to ignore the ID Pink Elephant in the Autism Spectrum we will never conduct the research necessary to fully understand autism disorders.  The Intellectual Dishonesty of omitting express reference to Intellectual Disability aside though, the division of the New Autism Spectrum Disorder into severity levels based on the levels of support required to function should at least help remove some of the romantic veneer with which autism disorders have been coated by various Neurodiversity and purported autism self advocates over the last two decades.  There is no reason to take joy in discovering that you, or your child, have an impaired functioning level requiring support, substantial support or very substantial support.  It is hard to glorify autism disorders in those terms.  

Despite my misgivings about  the New Autism Spectrum Disorder, I have to acknowledge that  the New ASD may at least be a  start toward a more realistic approach to public discussion of autism disorders. It is hard to tell at this time though whether it will be a substantial start or a very substantial start towards a reality based approach to autism disorders.
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