Mild autism is no longer a mentally ill


By Anna Fleetwood, editted by Raisa Sugandi

Children with mild Autism may no longer be considered mentally ill due to under changes to diagnostic processes, according to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is currently under review by the American Psychiatric Association, which could prevent families from accessing medication and treatment.
College spokesperson Professor Gregory O’Brien fears the proposed changes and a  narrowed definition of Autism will exclude some sufferers from the support they require.

“People who suffer from mild degrees of Autism may not have a diagnosis,”Professor O’Brien said.

“Roughly half of the people who have a mild degree of Autism will no longer be diagnosed. The result of this some of them are likely to lose service, this is a real possibility.”

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Richard Kidd says despite the changes it remains the responsibility of Queensland’s mental health professionals to apply diagnostic guidelines with common sense.

“We in Australia ensure that our children who need help continue to be well-supported, that they aren’t disadvantaged in the way the DSM is applied by various government departments.”

The possible changes to mental health diagnostics, coincide with the start of Schizophrenia Awareness Week.

Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland has opened its 21st annual art exhibition in King George Square, which will run throughout the week.
MIFQ chief executive officerTony Stevenson says the exhibition is a chance to showcase the contributions schizophrenia sufferers make to our society.

“The exhibition is another way to raise that profile and promote the fact that a mental ilness is not a debilitating situation. It’s a part of our community and we can really value people with those experiences and give them support they need.”

Local artist and exhibitor Nicky Carey says he hopes the exhibition will change the conversation surrounding mental illness.

Artworks in the exhibition fetch up to $5000 a piece with 90 per cent of proceeds going to the artists. The exhibition concludes this Thursday.