The fifth edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) (APA in diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, Author, Washington, 2013) has decided to merge the subtypes of pervasive developmental disorders into a single category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on the assumption that they cannot be reliably differentiated from one another. The purpose of this review is to analyze the basis of this assumption by examining the comparative studies between Asperger’s disorder (AsD) and autistic disorder (AD), and between pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS) and AD. In all, 125 studies compared AsD with AD. Of these, 30 studies concluded that AsD and AD were similar conditions while 95 studies found quantitative and qualitative differences between them. Likewise, 37 studies compared PDDNOS with AD. Nine of these concluded that PDDNOS did not differ significantly from AD while 28 reported quantitative and qualitative differences between them. Taken together, these findings do not support the conceptualization of AD, AsD and PDDNOS as a single category of ASD. Irrespective of the changes proposed by the DSM-5, future research and clinical practice will continue to find ways to meaningfully subtype the ASD.