The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM has been treated as the “bible” for the diagnosis and classification of mental illnesses by many practitioners. As most people are aware, a revised version, the DSM 5, is due to be published later this month by the American Psychiatric Association. Some changes in the DSM 5 including those relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders have received a lot of publicity and left some people wondering what diagnosis they will have according to the DSM 5.
In a somewhat surprising statement, the Director of the National Institute for Mental Health, has stated that the DSM 5 “lacks validity” and should no longer be treated as the “gold standard” by clinicians.
He announced that the NIMH “has launched the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project to transform diagnosis by incorporating genetics, imaging, cognitive science, and other levels of information to lay the foundation for a new classification system.” He stated that this new system would be ” a more precise diagnostic system”.
What does this mean for our children? It means that if you don’t agree with your child’s diagnosis, or lack thereof, you have a good foundation to challenge the medical practitioner’s opinion. You can use the statements made by the Director of the NIMH to discredit reliance on the criteria in the DSM. For example, if you strongly believe your child has autism but your child’s psychiatrist refuses to make this diagnosis on the grounds that your child’s symptoms don’t meet all the DSM criteria, you can argue with credibility that the DSM criteria should not be the sole criteria used for making your child’s diagnosis.
The whole thing is a bit complicated but overall I think it is good news for people with special needs or disabilities.
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