Living with Autism

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Charlie Minto, 5, was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified, or non-severe autism, October of last year. Because of the changing definition of autism in the new Diagnositics Statistic Manual, many families like the Minto family are worried that they will lose certain state- or insurance-provided therapies that come with the diagnosis.

Photo Credit: Shannon Kintner | Daily Texan Staff

Editor's Note: These photos are part of an ongoing personal project of senior photographer Shannon Kintner.

“You go bye-bye?” says Charlie Minto, 5, to Kari Hughes, a behavioral therapist. Charlie was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, or, in layman’s terms, non-severe autism October of this past year and receives in-home therapy provided five days a week. When he’s ready for playtime and done with behavior therapy, he doesn’t keep it to himself.

“No, Charlie, it’s not time for me to go yet,” Hughes responds. In one year, however, Charlie might be saying “bye-bye” to his therapists forever.

The Diagnostic Statistics Manual, the guideline psychiatrists use to diagnose different types of disorders, will release its fifth edition May 2013, with its first set of revisions in 17 years. While the changes are not yet definitive, the proposed new definition of autism will be more rigorous than the current one. Many families with families members who are autistic are worried that, due to the strong wording of the definition, their loved ones will lose the diagnosis, and with it, all state-, school-, and insurance- provided therapies.

Mindy Minto, Charlie’s mother, worries that paying for the behavioral, occupational and speech therapies that Charlie needs out of pocket will be prohibitive. “my fear is that he wont get the help he needs and that he won’t ... be the Charlie that he can be, he won’t rise to his full potential. And that’s concerning.”