Change for Asperger’s designation to benefit patients

How to help autistic children cope with the holidays

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 5:00 pm

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BALTIMORE – A decision to include Asperger’s disorder within the autism spectrum is concerning parents of children with the condition but an area doctor says the change should benefit patients.

The American Psychiatric Association announced the change as part of an update of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, a go-to source for doctors when diagnosing mental and developmental disorders. Under the revisions, Asperger’s disorder will no longer be considered a separate condition.

Dr. Ericka Wodka, a neuropsychologist at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism in Baltimore understands families’ concerns.

“It’s hard enough, first of all, learning your child has a disability and coping with that,” Wodka says.

And because people with Asperger’s are often high functioning, Wodka says there’s a reluctance to have that diagnosis done away with.

But Wodka says the fact that Asperger’s will now fall within the autism spectrum shouldn’t result in a discernable difference for those children already diagnosed.

“The reason this change was made was to better describe their child,” Wodka says. “The treatments that their child needs to receive aren’t going to change based on the fact that the name of their diagnosis is changing.”

In fact, she says the new designation may change the public perception of autism – the public may see it is possible for someone with autism to function on a very high level.

And as far as school services, Wodka says,”It shouldn’t be a difficult or rocky transition educationally.”

She explains many schools already considered Asperger’s part of the autism spectrum.

And the new designation may make it easier for parents to obtain services and care to help their children, she says.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow her at @kateryanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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