Way back in 1840 there was a need by the government to classify mental health which lead to the census including the categories; mania, melancholia, monomania, paresis, dementia, dipsomania and epilepsy. Further developments evolved to the publication of the DSM in 1917, which was embraced by the Bureau of the Census. It was called the Statistical Manual for the Use of Institutions for the Insane and was created by the Committee on Statistics of the American Medico-Psychological Association (now the American Psychiatric Association) and the National Commission on Mental Hygiene. The committees separated mental illness into 22 groups. The manual went through 10 editions until 1942.
Today the DSM-5 is short for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. It is a classification and diagnostic tool by the American Psychiatric Association which is widely used by various organizations, clinicians etc. in the field to aid in the diagnosis of mental disorders, health care payments, insurance, policy and more. Although this has been developed in the U.S.A. it is very influential around the world, therefore the update from version 4 to 5 was highly criticized.
The diagnoses of Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder – NOS, and Asperger’s Disorder has been replaced by a single category entitled Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The DSM-5 includes a new diagnosis, Social Communication Disorder which refers to impairment of pragmatics and is diagnosed based upon difficulty in the social uses of verbal and nonverbal communication in a natural context and low social communication abilities which result in functional limitations.
The DSM-5 does have a large impact on the healthcare and educational system and if you are a parent or caregiver that has been impacted by this version do connect with us and share your story, you are not alone.
Autism Speaks does answer some questions about DSM-5 and they have an Autism Response Team if you need further help.
Although the current version is not perfect we do have to keep in mind that we still have a lot more to learn about the human mind, it’s connection to the rest of the body, geography, environment and more.
Criticism leads to debate which in turn leads us better understanding. So although the experts are divided about the DSM-5, lets continue the dialogue.