Dyslexia and the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
By: LD OnLine (2012)
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is not well known to the general public, yet it is very influential manual used to determine how doctors, teachers and other professionals interpret educational and mental health issues, how the press reports on them, and what kind of treatments and therapies will be covered by health insurance companies.
The DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), includes codes for all mental health disorders currently recognized. The 4th edition of the manual was last revised in 2000; the DSM-5 is scheduled to be released in May, 2013.
Small changes in the DSM can have a major impact on how conditions are understood and treated. Revisions to the 5th edition include changes to the name and types of learning disabilities that are identified within the document. Specifically:
Learning Disorder has been changed to Specific Learning Disorder and the previous types of Learning Disorder (Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Disorder of Written Expression) are no longer being recommended. The type of Learning Disorder will instead be specified as noted in the diagnosis.
Source: American Psychiatric Association
Through June 15, 2012, the APA's DSM-5 Development team welcomed comments and questions on these changes. According to the APA DSM-5 site, work group members will review all comments, and in conjunction with results from the recently completed DSM-5 Field Trials, will begin making final revisions to their proposed changes.
- International Dyslexia Association's Breaking News & Call to Action document
Covers proposed revision changes, concerns, good news, and information on how to submit comments.
- Comments on Proposed DSM5 Criteria for Learning Disabilities (Fletcher, Lyon, Fuchs, Barnes & Vaughn).
Presents an overview, an overall recommendation, wording changes, additional supporting comments, and concluding comments. This group applauds the movement away from the IQ-achievement discrepancy model and encourages less restrictive, more inclusive, intervention-linked framework.
- Snowling & Hume (2012). Annual research review: the nature and classification of reading disorders--a commentary on proposals for DSM-5.
Abstract of an article that reviews current understanding of reading disorders in children, and the risk of omitting these disorders from the DSM-5 in terms of assessment, treatment, and understanding of these disorders.
- A May 15, 2012 Op-Ed by Allen Frances, who led the task force that produced the DSM-4. Frances suggests the DSM-5 "promises to be a disaster" and argues that psychiatric diagnosis may best be handled by a (currently non-existent) organization rather than just by psychiatrists.
As with all issues, LD OnLine encourages parents and teachers to be informed and work as advocates for all learners.