Neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have undergone considerable diagnostic evolution in the past decade. In the United States, the current system in place is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), whereas worldwide, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) serves as a general medical system. This review will examine the differences in neurodevelopmental disorders between these two systems. First, we will review the important revisions made from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) to the DSM-5, with respect to ASD and ADHD. Next, we will cover the similarities and differences between ASD and ADHD classification in the DSM-5 and the ICD-10, and how these differences may have an effect on neurodevelopmental disorder diagnostics and classification. By examining the changes made for the DSM-5 in 2013, and critiquing the current ICD-10 system, we can help to anticipate and advise on the upcoming ICD-11, due to come online in 2017. Overall, this review serves to highlight the importance of progress towards complementary diagnostic classification systems, keeping in mind the difference in tradition and purpose of the DSM and the ICD, and that these systems are dynamic and changing as more is learned about neurodevelopmental disorders and their underlying etiology. Finally this review will discuss alternative diagnostic approaches, such as the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative, which links symptom domains to underlying biological and neurological mechanisms. The incorporation of new diagnostic directions could have a great effect on treatment development and insurance coverage for neurodevelopmental disorders worldwide.
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