The DSM 5 does specify the severity levels of Autism Spectrum Disorder:
I have two comments about the levels. First, the description of Social Communication for Level 1 does not make any mention of peer communication. In our case, my son fooled our pediatrician because he communicated very well with adults, and she never saw him interact with kids his own age. That makes me wonder if my son and preschoolers like him would get the Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.
Second, since the Association specifies the severity levels anyway, why not make those three diagnoses within the Autism Spectrum Disorder category? For example, on the left below is how the Association treats Autism. On the right below is how I would write it--If I were a doctor on the Task Force! ;-)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (the category)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (as the category)
Do I continue to say "Aspergers"? or do I change to the one of the new DSM 5 diagnoses? I guess that all depends to whom you're talking.
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 proposed DSM 5 to see if things were eliminated or just moved around and renamed. Check out to my side-by-side comparison.
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.
Is early intervention at risk? Maybe... Maybe not. The new diagnosis of Late Language Emergence or LLE looks like a win for our kids.
When I saw how the proposed DSM 5 outlines Autism, ADHD, and Late Language Emergence, 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 current DSM 4.
The proposed DSM 5 is online at www.dsm5.org.