Asperger's syndrome will join other disorders with the label "autism spectrum disorder" under revisions to the American Psychiatric Association psychiatrists' diagnostic guide.
The changes are to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — considered the "bible" of psychiatry, according to CNN, because it contains the criteria mental health professionals use to diagnose their patients.
Under the changes, the term "Asperger's" — used to define certain disorders in children — will fall under the autism spectrum, WHEC.com reported.
The term gender identity disorder, meantime, is to be eliminated under the changes, replaced with gender dysphoria, which means emotional distress over one's gender.
Activists believe the condition isn't a disorder and say calling it one is stigmatizing, equating the change with the removal decades ago of "homosexuality" as a mental illness.
The approval of the changes came during a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees in Arlington, Virginia, CNN reported.
However, the revision has been a long time coming, according to Health.com, including input from more than 1,500 medical experts in 39 countries gathered over a decade.
While the fourth edition of the manual — or DSM-4 — has been in use since 1994, the new DSM-5 will be available in 2013, according to the publisher, American Psychiatric Association (APA).
Health.com quoted APA president Dr. Dilip Jeste as saying:
"We have produced a manual that best represents the current science and will be useful to clinicians and the patients they serve."
WHEC.com cited some families are worried they could lose essential services.
Pittsford resident Jenna Moran worried that with her 12-year-old son Jackson might lose his diagnosis completely.
"I worry for so many families. I worry about what will be the full outcome. Will children that can be helped, be left out of services and treatment and support. Support that they so desperately need."
Dr. Bryan Bruno, acting chair of psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed that the changes to the DSM “will have some impact ... not only to insurance coverage but to what we consider psychopathology.'