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How will the new definition of autism affect OT?

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AOTA's Checking the Pulse blog is written by digital editor Stephanie Yamkovenko who reads hundreds of health and policy articles weekly to find the most engaging and enlightening content. Go beyond the news and learn how it affects OT.

How will the new definition of autism affect OT?

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AOTA has an exclusive story today about how the new definition of autism spectrum disorder will affect occupational therapy.

We talked to autism experts in your profession to get their opinions and thoughts on the proposed definition for the DSM-V.

Read the article and find out the following:

  • How the new definition might mean better outcomes and better interventions
  • The effects of the new definition in the clinic
  • What opportunity may now be available thanks to the new definition
  • And much more!

Read it now and let us know what you think about what our autism experts are saying about the new definition.

To comment, please log in to OT Connections (it's free to join!).

  • I am on the side of the fence with this one, obviously.

    1. I agree with the fact that criteria will become clearer.  It's really good because it will really help for future OT research.

    2. I also like the fact that OT is client-centered, not diagnosis driven.  I believe this is the way our profession should be in serving the autism community.

    3. However, I disagree that it should come at a cost of less people being eligible for services.  I believe if I were tested again, I might no longer fit the autism diagnosis... because I worked so hard on my social skills so that I can be competent to work in the OT profession.  Also, I am sure I am not alone... as there could be more people who could fall through the cracks due to the narrowing of the criteria- people who truly needed help, but now might not feel that they have the right diagnosis that will "answer" their questions about their problems in their daily lives.

    As a professional, I will definitely respect whatever stance the OT profession will be on when the changes come around.  However, as a consumer, I am not a happy camper.  I believe that the article didn't really consult the opinions of the greater majority of the autism community- from caregivers to consumers.

  • Hi Bill. Thank you for your comments. I am glad that you enjoyed  the information that we received from our autism experts in OT. One thing to remember is that the definition right now is still a proposed definition and will be open for comment, which means that determining the effect of it on access to services is very difficult. All three of our experts mentioned that it's very difficult, at this point, to know exactly how it could affect clients.

    As you are probably aware, this topic has been covered in detail by the mainstream media - the consumer/caregiver angle has been well reported. It seemed more helpful for our members to report on the OT angle, which had not been covered yet. We also wanted to try to find the positives in this proposed new definition, which I hope we were able to do.

  • I agree it's very hard to define at this point.  Personally speaking, I asked the psychologist who gave me the screening, as well as now going to for quarterly check up's.  She is pretty uncertain about the matter in regards to me herself, as she doesn't even know if I have to get retested.

    Of course, I also agree that being a person who has a rare perspective in this, it's really hard to pick a side... as I am not completely sure of what OT's views are myself.  So, I will wait to see whatever develops and offer my two cents whenever appropriate.

    No doubts there are positives in this definition.  As a person who is aspiring to do OT research on autism, the new definitions can help clearly define the inclusion and exclusion criteria.  Also, the findings will be more specific, which can really help in the age of evidence based practice.

    The questions remains to be seen are- how will this "controversy" affect all aspects of our roles as present/future OT professionals?  Also, when the changes are finalized and our boundaries are better defined, what is the impact on our relationship with the autism community?