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By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – An expert panel in this country is studying proposed changes in the definition of autism.

In one camp are those who say it is currently too loose, vague and costly: allowing  too many people to qualify for certain insurance or government benefits who don’t really need them.

But the other side of that: tighten the clinical definition too much and tens of thousands who really need those services would no longer be eligible.

How do you draw the line between unusual and abnormal? This is what an expert panel of psychiatrists are dealing with when it comes to autism, a condition which now effects one in 100 people.

The panel is putting together the DSM5, which is the recognized standard reference for mental disorders. It is the first update in 17 years. A more strict definition can put this funding in jeopardy.

It is thought the proposed changes could probably exclude people with a diagnosis who are higher functioning. The disagreement about the effect of the new definition will almost certainly increase, as many people analyze the finer points of this document.

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