Nightly News   |  May 19, 2013

New guidelines have Asperger’s families worried

Families worried after the release of new guidelines on how to classify those diagnosed with Aspergers, NBC’s Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> from the fda tonight -- a warning to health care providers about sterile products made by a leading compounding pharmacy . the government says the products made by the dallas-based nuvision pharmacy may have been contaminated and could put patients at rick of infection.

>>> we turn now to mental health and new guidelines to help professional diagnose some common disorders. nbc's chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman says for some the new classifications are causing controversy.

>> reporter: at 5 years old, scott was diagnosed with asperger 's syndrome. now, 23, he's lived with the disorder for as long as he can remember.

>> it just makes me unable to read people.

>> reporter: people with asperger 's like scott have often relied on assistance from health services and early intervention, received because of their diagnosis. many families worry this critical aid will be in jeopardy after the release after new handbook.

>> it is a very scary thing for us and for families who have children on the autism spectrum that need services.

>> reporter: that handbook, the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders , or the dsm , is the gold standard used by psychiatrists for more than 60 years to guide them when diagnosing mental disorders .

>> they is a considerable 5789 amount of research and crinkle expertise and advances that made it very appropriate for us to issue a dsm . 5.

>> reporter: under the new guidelines, those who had once been diagnosed with asperger 's noul fall under the broader umbrella of autism spectrum disorder . new diagnoses, such as hoarding disorder and binge eating disorder have also been added to the manual. changes that have created controversy.

>> dsm -5 has been too innovative allowing too many openings for untended consequences that will lead to excessive and harmful treatment.

>> reporter: despite the debate, some experts say that while disorder classification will change, treatment option s will remain the same. so does the new dms give docs more freedom to just say it i'll just fix it with a pill?

>> no. the new manual doesn't give that kind of permission to fix it with a pill at all. it is not a treatment document. never was. it's a communication document.

>> maybe we can think about it differently.

>> reporter: a bright spot for families like the finklesteins, trying to make sure loved ones with disorders get the proper care.

>> just because it's gone away in the book doesn't mean it is going away in real life .

>> reporter: no matter how those disorders are defined. dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, new york.