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Update on diagnostic classification in autism

King, Bryan H.a,b; Navot, Noab; Bernier, Raphaela,b; Webb, Sara Janea,b

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: March 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 2 - p 105–109
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000040

Purpose of review In the lead up to and following the recent publication of the DSM-5, the diagnostic construct of autism has received intense scrutiny.

Recent findings This article briefly reviews the history of the diagnosis of autism, the changes that have occurred in the diagnosis over time, and the rationale for change. The most significant changes being introduced with the DSM-5 are highlighted, as well as some of the concerns that will be a focus of attention with respect to the potential impacts going forward.

Summary The categorical divisions that characterized the pervasive developmental disorders are now collapsed into a single entity, autism spectrum disorder. The final DSM-5 criteria have yet to be formally compared prospectively against prior criteria, but early indications suggest that the boundaries around the pervasive developmental disorders have not been substantially altered.

aSeattle Children's Hospital, Seattle

bUniversity of Washington Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Washington, USA

Correspondence to Bryan H. King, MD, Professor and Vice Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Director, Seattle Children's Autism Center, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, PO Box 5371/M1-1, Seattle, WA 98105, USA. Tel: +1 206 987-1837; fax: +1 206 987-2246; e-mail:

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