Sensory Processing Disorder: Possible Pathways to DSM-V

Michael B. First, M.D.
Columbia University
Editor, DSM-IV-TR

  The primary criterion for adding a new disorder to DSM-V is whether there is sufficient empirical evidence of its validity and clinical utility. In the case of Sensory Processing Disorder, three options for DSM-V were discussed: 1) adding it as a new disorder; 2) adding it as a subtype that would apply to disorders such as Autistic Disorder or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; or 3) adding a dimensional definition to the DSM-V appendix for "criteria sets and axes needing further study" in order to stimulate additional research. A very high threshold of empirical data has been set for adding a new disorder to DSM-V in order to insure that only diagnostically valid disorders are added to the system. The types of data that would be required include 1) evidence that sensory processing disorder describes a condition that is not adequately covered by an existing DSM-IV disorder; 2) evidence supporting its diagnostic validity; 3) evidence supporting its clinical utility; and 4) evidence supporting that there is a low risk of false positive diagnoses that might result if sensory processing disorder were to be added.


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