Some of the work I did for my dissertation dealt with “nosology“, the categorization and classification of symptoms, signs, syndomes, and diseases. I took a class in neuropsychology with David Tucker, an excellent teacher and clinician who got my interest in this subject going. Clinical neuropsychologists confront the problem of how complex an individual’s experience is, and diagnostic criteria may not capture this very well.
A minor theme of my dissertation was the particular issue of knowledge representation for cardiac “body knowledge” or “body cognition” disorders compared to autism. Psychiatrists, neurologists, pediatricians, psychologists, and other clinicians wrestle with how different one autistic patient is compared to another. The new classifications for autistic spectrum disorder coming out in the 2013 DSM-V will re-work how autism is defined, hopefully leading to better diagnoses. I write about this issue for DailyRX:
“Much discussion has centered on exactly who should be considered autistic, based on which diagnostic rules doctors should use. Diaglogue among clinicians, scientists, and patient advocates has focused on the proposed reworked definitions to be published by the American Psychiatric Association’s Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in mid-2013.
Currently, the 4th edition of the DSM categorizes autism, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and “pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified” as separate conditions.
If the proposed changes are indeed ratified and published, the larger category of “autistic spectrum disorder” will be used to categorize individual experience and behavior, ranging from mild to severe impaired functionality.”