Reflecting a new understanding of many mental illnesses, the proposed organization for the newest edition of the "bible" of psychiatry is now open for public comment at dsm5.org.
The American Psychiatric Association this week released its vision for the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V). The updates incorporate insights from research since 1994, the last time the manual was issued with substantial changes, the organization said. Publication of the DSM V is scheduled for 2013.
An earlier version of proposed information for the DSM V was released in February 2010. Tuesday, the American Psychiatric Association put out a more specific framework for how the new manual would be organized, showing connections between disorders that were previously unlinked. The goals are to call attention to commonalities and underlying vulnerabilities in certain groups of conditions, and to spur further research in those areas, said Dr. Darrel Regier, director of the Division of Research at the American Psychiatric Association.
"This organizational framework is trying to emphasize that we don’t have strict divisions between disorders," Regier said.
For instance, Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, instead of being its own diagnosis, would now fall under the broader “austism spectrum disorders.” This move has some parents unhappy because "autism" sounds scarier than Asperger's, which has taken on its own identity in that community, and because children with Asperger's have specific educational needs that are different from kids with more severe autism.
But the association has heard from other parents frustrated that their children with Asperger's are denied special education benefits reserved for autism, Regier said. And biologically speaking, Asperger's is a form of autism, doctors say.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Must meet criteria A, B, C, and D:
A. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across contexts, not accounted for by general developmental delays, and manifest by all 3 of the following:
1. Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity; ranging from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back and forth conversation through reduced sharing of interests, emotions, and affect and response to total lack of initiation of social interaction,
2. Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction; ranging from poorly integrated- verbal and nonverbal communication, through abnormalities in eye contact and body-language, or deficits in understanding and use of nonverbal communication, to total lack of facial expression or gestures.
3. Deficits in developing and maintaining relationships, appropriate to developmental level (beyond those with caregivers); ranging from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit different social contexts through difficulties in sharing imaginative play and in making friends to an apparent absence of interest in people
B. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities as manifested by at least two of the following:
1. Stereotyped or repetitive speech, motor movements, or use of objects; (such as simple motor stereotypies, echolalia, repetitive use of objects, or idiosyncratic phrases).
2. Excessive adherence to routines, ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior, or excessive resistance to change; (such as motoric rituals, insistence on same route or food, repetitive questioning or extreme distress at small changes).
3. Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus; (such as strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests).
4. Hyper-or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of environment; (such as apparent indifference to pain/heat/cold, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, fascination with lights or spinning objects).
C. Symptoms must be present in early childhood (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities)
D. Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning.