Title: 'Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children With Hearing Loss: How the DSM-5 Can Benefit Children and Families.'
Track: 7 - Family Perspectives and Support
Keyword(s): Autism, hearing loss, DSM, parent supports
Learning Objectives:
  1. Participants will be able to state one difference between the DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 use in diagnosing children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  2. Participants will be able to explain the differences in the “levels of support” in the DSM-5 and how this might assist parents
  3. Participants will be able to share two of the additional diagnoses that must be considered in diagnosing a child with autism


This session presents case studies to compare the evaluation process for children who have hearing loss (HL) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) IV-TR and DSM-5. The diagnosis of ASD is compounded in a child who presents with a HL since language development is a critical feature for each diagnosis, making the differential diagnosis critical for these children. Although objective and physiologic assessments exist that can assist in diagnosing young children with hearing loss, the diagnosis of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is made primarily through clinical observation. There has been much concern that the clinical criteria used to evaluate a child with ASD were changed significantly with the publication of the new DSM-5 in May of 2013. While there has been some realignment of the criteria for evaluating children suspected of having ASD, there are new features of the DSM-5 that may prove supportive for parents of children with HL and ASD. Specifically, the new DSM-5 requires a more holistic evaluation of children suspected of having ASD and requires that evaluators also discuss cognitive and language abilities, other neurodevelopmental, behavioral or mental disorders as well as medical, genetic or environmental factors. Both diagnoses often involve collaboration of an interdisciplinary team, including audiologists, deaf and special educators, medical providers, parents, psychologists, and speech-language pathologists. The DSM-5 also includes “severity specifiers” that may help parents when seeking services for their child. These specifiers (Level 1, requiring support; Level 2, requiring substantial support; Level 3, requiring very substantial support) can be used at the individual/family level in developing therapeutic priorities. This presentation will provide guidance in using the new DSM-5, clarify the interpretation and use of the severity specifiers, and discuss strategies for utilizing a team approach in making a differential diagnosis.
Presentation: 1329VickiSimonsmeier.pdf

Handouts: Handout is not Available
Vicki Simonsmeier - Primary Presenter
Utah State University
     Credentials: MS, CCC-SLP/Aud
     Other Affiliations: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), International Society on Early Intervention (ISEI)
      Vicki Simonsmeier is dually certified by ASHA in speech-language pathology and audiology. She is a Clinical Coordinator at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. Ms. Simonsmeier specializes in pediatric speech-language disorders, particularly autism, neurodevelopmental, and language-learning difficulties. She coordinates an Interdisciplinary Feeding Team at Utah State University and is a Core Faculty member for the Utah Regional Leadership in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) Interdisciplinary Training program. She teaches courses at USU and has lectured on feeding disorders and autism as well as hearing loss and effects on speech and language. She provides consultations to individuals, schools and insurance companies on treatment for multi-diagnosed children.

Financial - Receives Salary for Employment from Utah State University.  

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.
Lauri Nelson - Co-Presenter
Utah State University
     Credentials: PhD
      Lauri Nelson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education in the Listening and Spoken Language Deaf Education program at Utah State University. She has a dual background in both clinical audiology and LSL deaf education and currently directs the LSL deaf education graduate training program at Utah State University.

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.