At 9 a.m.: Day 5 of Public Impeachment Hearings

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    Proposed Changes to DSM go online

    People interested in mental health issues can get a sneak peak at the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders online. Proposed changes will be published on a website for public review and feedback.

    People interested in mental health issues can get a sneak peak at the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders online. Proposed changes will be published on a website for public review and feedback.

    Listen to the radio reports:
    [audio:100209MSDSM1.mp3]

    [audio:100209MSDSM2.mp3]

    To view the proposed changes in the DSM, please visit www.dsm5.org

    Simply put, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM, is a big deal. Psychiatrists use it to diagnose people, researchers use it to develop studies, policy makers use it to allot funding and services.

    The last Manual was published in 1994 – so the new edition has to reflect advances in research that have happened since then. One area up for revision is Autism. In the current DSM, it’s broken up into distinct categories – autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. The new edition will contain only be a single diagnostic category: autism spectrum disorder.

    In doing so, the manual catches up with practice, says Dr. David Mandell of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research:

    Mandell: All of the components of autism spectrum disorders really are best conceptionalized on a continuum, rather than trying to break them artificially into discrete categories.

    Having this current understanding of autism reflected in the DSM, says Mandell will make it easier to get services to children without having to fit them into narrowly defined categories .

    Another change speaks to how society’s vocabulary has changed in the last 16 years. The term “mentally retarded” will be replaced by “intellectual disabilities”.

    Robert Kreider is CEO of the Devereux Foundation, a service provider. He says this change is overdue, and stems largely from parents’ advocacy:

    Kreider: Families and other caregivers live with the realities of developmental disabilities every day, and it’s important for all professionals that support those families to be respectful of their wishes and insights.

    Kreider says recent examples of politicians and entertainers using the word “retarded” in a crude fashion show the need for this change.

    The new manual won’t be published until 2013

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