This graphic come from a presentation on the new DSM 5 diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders prepared by Dr. Walter Kaufmann. I like this graphic of the conceptual framework of ASD because it looks very similar to the way that I have always thought of autism. Different people can inhabit several different spheres to varying degrees but still fall within the spectrum. This is why one autistic person can be so different from another but similar at the same time.
So the DSM 5 is finally available to the public. The new diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders presents a bit of problem for researchers but also an opportunity. Previous research using DSM IV criteria will not be comparable to subsequent research using the new DSM 5 criteria. What does this mean for the research community? First, even though the diagnostic criteria in the DSM have changed the diagnostic tools, such as the ADOS and ADI-R, have not. So perhaps the data from studies using the same diagnostic tools can be evaluated using DSM 5 criteria. Second, hopefully previous studies will be replicated using the DSM 5 diagnostic criteria. This should lead to a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders.