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January 20 2012

Drexel University’s Dr. Craig Newschaffer, a renowned autism expert and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Drexel University School of Public Health, is available to comment on the proposed changes to the definition of autism and how they would impact the autistic population.

In regards to the proposed overhaul, Dr. Newschaffer says:

  • It is difficult to estimate what the impact of a change in diagnostic criteria will be moving forward through reanalysis of historical data.
  • The new DSM criteria, while different from the past criteria in that PDDNOS and Asperger’s are no longer included, should still allow for these individuals to be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and do appear to be addressing some of challenges in implementing the previous versions.
  • The most important thing from a public health perspective is to make certain that as we transition to the DSM-V individuals with autism who need a diagnosis to access important early intervention and ongoing supportive services are still able to do so.

Newschaffer is internationally recognized for his research on the etiology and epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders. Newschaffer currently directs the EARLI autism study, which is funded by more than $16M in grants and is one of only 11 Autism Centers of Excellence established by the National Institutes of Health.  The national network is one of the largest research studies of its kind to investigate early risk factors for autism spectrum disorders, and is considered to be one of the best equipped to discover biological markers and environmental risk factors for autism.

** To schedule an interview with Dr. Newschaffer, contact the Drexel Media Relations Team at 215-895-6741. **