Speech-language pathologists and audiologists will have a final opportunity to comment on proposed changes to be incorporated into the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), scheduled for publication in May 2013.
Specific dates for the spring 2012 comment period have not yet been released.
The DSM provides diagnostic criteria for classifying many communication and related disorders. The DSM and the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM), are used widely in the United States and other countries by a variety of professionals, agencies, and policymakers—including clinical practitioners, researchers, and third-party payers.
The proposed diagnostic criteria revisions are available on the DSM-V development site. The two sections most related to communication sciences and disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., intellectual developmental disorders, communication disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and learning disorders) and neurocognitive disorders (e.g., mild and major neurocognitive disorder).
ASHA provided comments for these sections during previous comment periods (April 2010 [PDF] and June 2011 [PDF]). In its comments, for example, ASHA disagreed with proposed changes to the definition and subcategories of "learning disabilities," and called for the use of the definition developed by the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities. ASHA also disagreed with a proposed definition of "intellectual disabilities" and suggested the use of a new definition proposed by the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The association supports proposed changes in the sections on autism and cognitive disorders.
After each comment period, work groups for each of the sections, in consultation with their advisory groups, review the comments and determine whether to make changes in the diagnostic criteria. Amy Wetherby, director of the Autism Institute in the College of Medicine at Florida State University, serves on the neurodevelopmental work group and chairs the Communication Disorders Advisory Committee. Other speech-language pathologists who serve on the Communication Disorders Advisory committee are Nickola Nelson, director of the doctoral program in interdisciplinary health sciences at Western Michigan University; Mabel Rice, director of the child language doctoral program at the University of Kansas; and Diane Paul, ASHA director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology. Many other speech-language pathologists have provided input for the proposed diagnostic criteria.