Autism is a developmental disability that is not specifically defined. But a move to change that could occur in 2013. Proposed changes to the way autism is categorized has advocates wondering what the new classifications might do to diagnosis numbers and treatment. Executive Director of Autism New Jersey Linda Meyer sat down with NJToday Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss the proposed changes and what it might mean for the population on the autism spectrum.
New Jersey has the third highest prevalence rate of autism in children, behind Arizona and Missouri. Meyer says the proposed change in May 2013 would collapse four current categories – autism, pervasive developmental disabilities, childhood disintegrative disorder and Asperger disorder – into one called autism spectrum disorders. She says she’s unsure about the impact on the autism community at this time.
Meyer says Autism New Jersey focuses on getting people with autism access to the services they need. The group wants clear diagnostic criteria that can lead to services that improve the quality of life from those with the disorder. According to Meyer, New Jersey is a leader in autism with good educational services that support individuals between the ages of 3 and 21. She also says pediatricians in the state do an excellent job of diagnosing autism, which could be a reason why the state ranks so high on lists documenting autism cases.