Autism Behaviors
According to the DSM 5

Autism Behaviors are the second part of the proposed DSM 5's definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder, specifically "restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities." The first part is about social communication.

*DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association and used by professionals to diagnose mental health conditions. The manual not only affects decisions that doctors make but also what the insurance companies will cover. The DSM 4 is the recently retired manual. You can learn more about it on the DSM 4 page.

DSM 5 was just published in 2013

NOTE: Tony Attwood, the current researcher of Aspergers Syndrome, does not agree with the elimination of Aspergers Syndrome from the manual.
Read more on the DSM 4 page, the DSM 5 page, and the ICD 10 page.

The criteria for social communication have become more strict; however, the criteria for the Autism behaviors in the second part, "restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities," may be tighter. I guess it depends on which behaviors your child is showing.

In the case of social communication, the proposed DSM 5 includes a new diagnosis of Social Communication, for which a child with PDD-NOS might be diagnosed under the new criteria.

However, there is no equivalent new diagnosis for children who have "restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities." I guess the researchers find that if children have the latter, they always also have social communication disorder.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the DSM 4 and the DSM 5's criteria for the Autism behaviors listed in the second part of the definitions of Autism and Aspergers.

DSM 4's Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities for both Autism and Aspergers

DSM 5's Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities for Autism Spectrum Disorder, which includes what was Aspergers and PDD-NOS in the DSM 4

as manifested by at least one of the following:

  • Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

These are two separate criteria in the DSM 4 that seem to be addressed with one criterion in the proposed DSM 5.

as manifested by at least two of the following:

  • Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (such as strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests)
  • Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • Excessive adherence to routines, ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior, or excessive resistance to change (such as motoric rituals, insistence on same route or food, repetitive questioning or extreme distress at small changes)
  • Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  • Stereotyped or repetitive speech, motor movements, or use of objects (such as simple motor stereotypies, echolalia, repetitive use of objects, or idiosyncratic phrases)

(I could not find a DSM 4 equivalent.)

  • Hyper-or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of environment (such as apparent indifference to pain/heat/cold, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, fascination with lights or spinning objects)

Other Pages About the DSM 5

Tighter Criteria for Social Communication

What is concerning is the tighter criteria for social communication/social interaction. The DSM 5 requires all three of the behaviors that characterize deficits; whereas, the DSM 4 lists one additional for a total of four and then requires two. Look at the side-by-side comparison on the Social Communication page.

Outline of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

When I saw how the new DSM 5 outlines Autism and ADHD, everything made more sense to me. (Notice that Aspergers and PDD-NOS have been eliminated.) I hope that reading the outline helps you, too. You may want to compare it to the recently retired DSM 4.

DSM 4 - DSM 5 Differences -- Where's Aspergers?

In the Association's own words, they have eliminated the diagnoses of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, PDD-NOS, and Aspergers, saying that they are now part of Autism Spectrum Disorder. (You may also want to read the PDD-NOS and High-Functioning Autism pages.)

I was initially not happy with this, and I'm still not sure about it, but let's examine the old and the new DSM to see if things were eliminated or just moved around and renamed. Check out my side-by-side comparison.

Do I say "Aspergers" or "Autism"?

Do I continue to say "Aspergers"? or do I change to the one of the new DSM diagnoses? I guess that all depends to whom you're talking.

Home | DSM 5 | top of Autism Behaviors According to the DSM 5

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