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HTTP://www.interdys.org/ewebeditpro5/upload/BreakingNewsRed(1).pngBREAKING NEWS & CALL TO ACTION:
DSM-5 Proposed Revisions Remove the Term Dyslexia

by Carolyn D. Cowen & Karen Dakin

Every so often, an issue merits stopping whatever you are doing, paying attention, and, if you are concerned, taking action. This is one of those issues: The proposed revisions for the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) no longer include dyslexia.


What is DSM-5 and why is it important?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and includes codes for all mental health disorders currently recognized. Release of the manual’s final, approved fifth edition (DSM-5) is anticipated May 2013.

What are the proposed revision changes?  

Quoting from a recent DSM-5 update:

Stand by for IDA's official position statement on "DSM-5 and dyslexia" and for opportunities to participate in a petition campaign.

“Learning Disorder has been changed to Specific Learning Disorder and the previous types of Learning Disorder (Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Disorder of Written Expression) no longer are being recommended. The type of Learning Disorder will instead be specified as noted in the diagnosis.” (Emphasis added.)

For complete changes in diagnostic criteria and other proposed revisions, click here. For details about the diagnostic process and criteria for Specific Learning Disorder, click here. 

What are the concerns?

Many members of the International Dyslexia Association and dyslexia communities were heartened by inclusion of the term dyslexia in an earlier round of proposed DSM-5 revisions (click here to see previous draft revisions).

However, many view this latest round of revisions—which now omit the term dyslexia—as a significant step backward and worry that this omission will (a) perpetuate lack of recognition and understanding of dyslexia and (b) contribute to delays in diagnosis and treatment.

Some also see a chasm between current proposed DSM-5 revisions and growing dyslexia legislation and policies (e.g., see eXaminer articles, “Dyslexia Legislation Passes in Ohio” and “Dyslexia Comes to Congress: A Call to Action”).

If you share these concerns, you have an opportunity to submit comments on the draft DSM-5. The APA has provided eXaminer readers and IDA members with a direct email address for making comments—dsm5@psych.org. The deadline for comments is June 15. This commenting period marks the third and final time DSM-5 draft criteria will be available for feedback. (For more information, click here and here.)

Any good news?

Yes. Proposed revisions include this language:

“The diagnostic criteria do not depend upon comparisons with overall IQ and are consistent with the change in the USA’s reauthorized IDEA regulations (2004), which state that: 'the criteria adopted by the State must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10).'” (Click here for more detail about DSM-5 revision rationale.)

Call to action:

Very likely, the final language in DSM-5 will shape the diagnostic and treatment landscape for children and adults with dyslexia for generations to come. If you want to have a voice, submit your comments to dsm5@psych.org before June 15. Please also forward this information to other parties and stakeholders who may wish to comment. If you are concerned, now is the time to act!

Watch future issues of the eXaminer for updates and in-depth analysis on proposed DSM-5 revisions. Not a subscriber? Click here to subscribe for free.

Relevant Link: IDA’s Definition of Dyslexia

Carolyn D. Cowen, Ed.M.: Social-Media Editor & Strategist, The eXaminer; Executive Director, Carroll School Center for Innovative Education

Karen E. Dakin, M.Ed.: Editor, The eXaminer; Secretary, the International Dyslexia Association Board of Directors


DSM-5 Should Align with
ICD-10 and IDEA

By Susan Lowell

Two other considerations support the position that dyslexia belongs in DSM-5.

Dyslexia is an International Concern: It is important for the DSM-5 to include dyslexia in order to align with the work of the international scientific and clinical community. International agencies such as United Nations and professionals all over the world rely on The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Disease and Related Health Problems-10th Revision, commonly called the ICD-10, to list and describe diseases and other health problems including learning disabilities. Many learning disorders are listed in the ICD-10, including reading disorders described as dyslexia and developmental dyslexia.

Dyslexia is in IDEA: Recent U.S. federal special education law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, IDEA 2004, listed dyslexia under Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD). This definition of SLD remains the same; indeed dyslexia has been mentioned as a Specific Learning Disability since the first special education law, 94-142, Education of All Handicapped Children Act, was passed in 1975. It makes sense to have DSM-5 align with federal special education law.

DSM-5 must align with both national and international work. It is critical that DSM-5 does not once again neglect to mention dyslexia, the most common learning disability of all.

Susan C. Lowell, M.A., B.C.E.T; Vice President, The International Dyslexia Association; Chair, The International Dyslexia Association's Global Partners Committee; Educational Therapy Associates