A South Korean study, funded in part by Autism Speaks, found that previously diagnosed children who didn't fit the new autism criteria would instead be diagnosed with the newly created social communication disorder, which would likely qualify them for services.
But Roy Richard Grinker of George Washington University doesn't think that's going to happen to a lot of kids. The DSM-5 will be used primarily in research settings, where "diagnoses are based on rigorous application of criteria," he says. "In everyday life, diagnoses may be made for short or long-term benefits, like helping a child get into a classroom environment that will help him or her."
The people who actually assess kids with social interaction problems or repetitive behaviors usually aren't focused on the DSM-5 criteria, Grinker says. Instead they are asking, "What is the best set of services for this person?" and, "What diagnosis should I give the person to get him or her those services?"
So even if the government lowers its estimate of children with an autism spectrum disorder, Grinker says, there could still be an increase in number of kids across the country who receive an autism diagnosis from a local clinician.