02/12/2012 05:49 GMT | Updated 02/12/2012 11:23 GMT

Asperger's Syndrome To Be Reclassified As Autism Spectrum Disorder By DSM

Aspergers Syndrome is to be reclassified in the next edition of one of the world's most influential psychiatric reference manuals.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders will group the symptoms of Aspergers under a new umbrella term, "autism spectrum disorder", reports the Guardian.

The new term is already in common usage and will cover those with mild symptoms through to individuals who do not talk or interact.


Aspergers sufferer, Gary McKinnon, was wanted in the US for hacking

The aim of the move is to simplify diagnosis. American mother, Kelli Gibson, has four sons, all with autism but each with a different form under the old system.

She told CNN: "To give it separate names never made sense to me. To me, my children all had autism."

The classification of mental disorders is important as it can affect how people not only receive treatment but what special services they are eligible for and how they are viewed by the courts.

British cyber-hacker, Gary McKinnon, recently avoided being extradited to the US, a decision based partly on his Aspergers.

The DSM is widely used around the world and is known as the "bible" of psychiatry, defining how doctors view mental disorders.

Dr. David J. Kupfer, who chairs the task force behind the decision told CNN: "I'm feeling quite good about the series of recommendations that were made in that area. It will help us diagnose these children in a more consistent way."

Some however, are worried that the changes may lead to people losing access the services. Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for the Autism Speaks charity, said: "The concern is we really don't know yet how these changes are going to affect people in real world settings."