Panama City -- The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has narrowed the guidelines to qualify as autistic meaning some people who were considered autistic, will no longer fit the definition.
Until now, autistic patients were required to show six of the twelve behaviors. Under the new criteria, they now must show three deficits in social interaction and communication, and at least two repetitive behaviors.
“As a population, we are not happy with the change” said Helen Ezell, Autism Education Center. The new definition will most likely potentially narrow the autistic population, which is estimated to be 1 in every 110 children. The new changes could result in funding cuts for patients and programs that treat autism.
Carrie Cross has a three year old son with autism. Cross says she has a family history of the disorder and knows how critical it is to act early on in a child’s life.
“Early intervention is key, early diagnosis is key” said Carrie Cross, mother of autistic child.
Cross believes the new guidelines could lead to misdiagnosis, labeling autism, as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anti-social personality disorder and avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, speech sound disorder, social anxiety disorder among others.
“I find it very hard to believe a lot of those diagnosis, will actually be recognized by the insurance companies or by Medicaid” said Cross.
Autism advocates also fear, autistic patients will be medicated instead of receiving therapy. Autistic children will not be the only ones impacted by the change in definition of autism. Autistic adults will also feel the impacts.
William Keeley considers himself lucky. As an author of his recent book entitled “Tech Tactics, Money Saving Secrets” and advocate for autism, he has lived with the disorder well into adulthood, but he too fears the changes will make it difficult for people like him.
“Even in the Social Security disability, there is no criterion for diagnosing adults and proving them with benefits” said William Keeley, Autism Education Center.
“None of this can be good for us, I mean if our kids lose their diagnosis where does that leave them? No where” said Ezell.