Friday, April 30, 2010

What's In A Name? DSM Changes May Have Impacts on Special Education

This is not an area I know all that much about, but from what I can gather, changes in definitions between the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder--Version 4) and the DSM-V (Verstion 5) could have a significant impact on special education services.

According to this NPR story, since the mid-1990s the number of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder has increased by 4,000 percent!
In particular: have children been diagnosed with Childhood Bipolar Disorder when they actually have Temper Dysregulation Disorder?
If they used to be diagnosed as having Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and then with Bipolar Disorder, or Conduct Disorder--what difference will it make?

And most importantly, what are the implications of these decisions for medication, treatment, and special education services?


  1. I'm pretty sure all of these fall under the designation of "Otherwise Health Impaired" so I'm not sure if the labeling change will affect qualifying for special ed services. However, the seriousness to which the staff give the different designations may be significant--since ADHD is so common, often ADHD kids just get offered a 504, not an IEP, while the other ones more often get Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs).

  2. Well, it goes back to early intervention, and that many of these kids are PDD-NOS poorly handled with emotional dysregulation. Simply a tremendous tragedy has been done to these children by them not having been properly identified and treated early in their lives. Instead, they were treated for a disease they did not have, because part of the symptomalogy overlapped.
    Simply tragic.

  3. So what does it mean for schools?
    Back to early intervention, EIBI< that can clean up tantrums and emotional regulation, so schools don't have to handle them.
    However, there are tens of thousands of kids currently misdiagnosed and being mishandled. What a mess.