Changes to the DSM 5: Autism & Alzheimer’s Redefined

Changes to the DSM 5Major changes to the  DSM5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is about to take place which will include redefining the actual definitions of disorders such as Autism and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

In an article found over at, ADHD/autism and special needs expert Shelley Tzorfas, who has researched and reviewed the changes, paints a grim outcome for patients that are currently relying on services provided by the state.  Eliminating entire disease categories… Is this all just about money?

Changes to the DSM 5: Autism & Alzheimer’s Redefined

Terms such as Asperger’s Syndrome and the PDDNOS (Pervasive Developmental Disabilities Not Otherwise Specified) are being removed from the DSM5; and they are coming under the axe in order to create supposedly less confusion. Many of us are aware that in essence, by un-diagnosing these kids, it may reduce services in education, health, and other opportunities.

The definition for both (Alzheimer’s and autism) is about to go into analysis and under the knife. Asperger’s in plain English was the high functioning autism that the term “Rocket Scientists” would bring to mind. Geeks and nerds from the past may have fallen into that category. Think Dr. Sheldon Cooper, who plays the role of  theoretical physicist focusing on quantum mechanics and string theory on the show, “The Big Bang Theory.” The character Dr. Sheldon Cooper is obsessed with his field, but must eat a certain food and visit the comic stores on Wednesday nights. Changing the schedule would put him into a panic. He lives by structure and he can not handle disruptions. He  is unable to make transitions from one activity to another and is anal retentive about his likes and dislikes. And watch out if you sit on HIS spot on the couch.

The criteria for “Alzheimer’s is about to be changed as well.”
Most people currently diagnosed with a mild form of Alzheimer’s disease are about to be downgraded away from this term and re-categorized as having MCI – Mild Cognitive Impairment. This is according to an article authored by Rachel Rettner found on February 6, 2012. The article goes on to say that people diagnosed as having ‘Mild Alzheimer’s disease’ would be reclassified as having Mild Cognitive Impairment. MCI is recognized as an intermittent stage between “normal” loss of cognitive function that comes with age, and the development of Dementia. In essence they are changing and expanding the definition of Cognitive Impairment. It is a decline in cognitive functioning due to loss in memory and language, but does not interfere with everyday activities, yet reduces the Alzheimer’s population.

According to the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association, people with MCI can function independently. This could mean that even if people have some difficulties shopping, paying bills, and cooking but could still function, they would now be diagnosed as having MCI. Dr. John Morris, a professor of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine, looked at people in a study and found that approximately 92% to 98% could be reassessed as having MCI and not Alzheimer’s based on some tasks they were asked to perform including cooking and taking medication. This means that possibly 2 million people would have the diagnosis changed. whole article right here

I asked Shelley if she could provide some additional commentary/insights about changes to the  DSM5 not contained in the original article- here is is:

Shelley Tzorfas: There continues to be a battle between some of the the writer’s of the DSM IV, the cry of the general public, on one side of the issue versus the psychiatrists in authority who are busy rewriting and deleting decades of definitions on the other. For the first time the public has been allowed to give feedback and as a result 2 new mental illness categories have been dropped. One of them was a diagnosis to be given to toddlers at high “Risk” of becoming schizophrenic. What could be the purpose of that category? It was an expansion of a medication program.

Dr. Allen Francis, Chair of the DSM-IV has voiced concern over the proposed changes. Some feel that there has become a financial conflict of interest. In his article in the Huffington Post titled, ” Psychiatrists Mislabeling is Bad for Your  Mental Health,”  Dr. Allen Francis has weighed in. “DSM-5 has badly failed its own reliability testing because its writing is so imprecise that clinicians can’t agree on how to use it.”


If you liked this post and want to keep up to date with the court rulings on autism and /or ADHD information, please sign up for Shelley’s group below. Shelley, who has achieved incredible success with special needs children spanning 30 years, personally answers questions and wants to help your child.

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