In Diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorders Lack Reliability Pysch Central senior news editor Rick Naubert Ph.D., (article reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psych D) reports on a new study by Catherine Lord, Ph.D. and colleagues that examined the relationship between autism diagnoses and behavioral appearances at 12 university sites. The found that clinical distinctions among subtypes of autism spectrum disorders were not reliable and speculated that regional variations could be affected by availability of services for those with autistic disorder in some regions. Conversely greater stigmatization associated with autistic disorder could also affect the type of ASD disorder received.
As I interpret the Psych Central report on the study the study authors are asserting that the results support the DSM5's new combined Autism Spectrum Disorder which although creating a combined autism spectrum disorder also divides the spectrum by severity and functioning levels:
"The authors point out that their study results have implications for revisions of current diagnostic frameworks.
“Results support the move from existing subgroupings of autism spectrum disorders to dimensional descriptions of core features of social affect and fixated, repetitive behaviors, together with characteristics such as language level and cognitive function,” they conclude." (Underlining added, HLD)
Neurodiversity activists, including Mottron and Dawson, will not be happy with any mention of cognitive functioning dimensions or levels in connection with autism disorders. It will be interesting to read their statements opposing the results and the suggested implications of the Lord study.
It is also interesting to note that association with the lower functioning end of the Autism Spectrum, the Autistic Disorder category which contains the vast majority, the 70% of autistics with intellectual disabilities, is considered to be so stigmatizing as to affect the type of autism spectrum diagnosis given by health care professionals.