The DSM, the handbook clinical diagnosticians and therapists, such as psychiatrists, use to diagnose mental health conditions is undergoing some dramatic changes in its new edition, due out in a few months. Lending Hand Resources helps explain these changes.
The medical and psychiatric community will lose the Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS) diagnosis with the implementation of the new DSM-V. The Asperger’s and PDD diagnosis was given to individuals who display a certain set of behaviors and need certain therapeutic and educational services to support their growth and development. What will these changes mean for your child?
Practitioners currently use the diagnostic criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual- Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) to make certain diagnosis like Autism and related disorders. The current diagnostic criteria, as specified by the DSM-IV, separates all Pervasive Developmental Disorders by different diagnostic labels based on the severity of the disorder and a set of symptoms commonly seen in individuals with certain disorders. These diagnostic labels include: Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified).
This diagnostic manual has been under revision for quite some time and as a result an updated version entitled the DSM-V is set to be released sometime this year. It is important for parents and professionals who work with individuals that have some type of Pervasive Developmental Disorder to know the changes that are going to be made to the diagnostic criteria of these disorders in the DSM-V.
The most important change, that is going to be made in the DSM-V, is that all the diagnostic labels that are currently used in the DSM-IV, to describe Autism and related disorders, are now going to be replaced by one diagnostic category entitled “Autism Spectrum Disorder”. The severity and cluster of symptoms that an individual presents with will be specified by the designation of Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. This severity level will be assigned to indicate the level of support that an individual needs and to give an indication of the challenges an individual might experience in regards to social communication, restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.
The advisory board felt that Autism and related disorders are characterized by a common set of behaviors and only differ on the severity of these symptoms. This led them to develop a single name which is differentiated by a level of severity.
Some individuals currently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome will have the name of their disorder changed, which may confuse their parents and the professional working with them.
Individuals currently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and PDD NOS may now have to endure the misconceptions related with having an Autism diagnosis. It will also be more devastating for parents when their children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder as opposed to hearing your child has Asperger’s Syndrome or PDD NOS. This may also lead to some resistance, on the part of parents, to get their children evaluated or the help they need.
The stricter criteria that will be used to diagnose these disorders will cause some children who are currently eligible for an Asperger’s Syndrome or PDD NOS diagnosis to no longer qualify for a diagnosis of a developmental disorder, which is needed to get them the help they need, both in and outside of school, and may cause some parents to endure more financial burdens as a result of insurance companies no longer covering the costs of certain therapeutic services their child needs.
These diagnostic changes may lead to changes, at the state level, in how schools determine whether a child is eligible for special education and/ or related services. Currently, each state determines how a child will be eligible for these services, independent of the DSM-IV, but some disorders, like Autism, Asperger’s and PDD NOS, are mentioned in the state’s eligibility criteria as medical conditions that would qualify an individual for special educational services.
With stricter requirements for the diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, it will be interesting to see if states adopt a new classification system that would make a child eligible for special educational services when they display some of the behaviors currently associated with Asperger’s Syndrome and PDD NOS, independent of this new Autism diagnosis.
There will be a lot of adjustments associated with this diagnostic change in the DSM-V, but it is too early for parents and professionals to panic because the exact effects of these changes are yet to been seen.
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