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Neurodevelopmental disorders: Cluster 2 of the proposed meta-structure for DSM-V and ICD-11: Paper 3 of 7 of the thematic section: ‘A proposal for a meta-structure for DSM-V and ICD-11’

  • G. Andrews (a1), D. S. Pine (a2), M. J. Hobbs (a1), T. M. Anderson (a1) and M. Sunderland (a1)...

DSM-IV and ICD-10 are atheoretical and largely descriptive. Although this achieves good reliability, the validity of diagnoses can be increased by an understanding of risk factors and other clinical features. In an effort to group mental disorders on this basis, five clusters have been proposed. We now consider the second cluster, namely neurodevelopmental disorders.


We reviewed the literature in relation to 11 validating criteria proposed by a DSM-V Task Force Study Group.


This cluster reflects disorders of neurodevelopment rather than a ‘childhood’ disorders cluster. It comprises disorders subcategorized in DSM-IV and ICD-10 as Mental Retardation; Learning, Motor, and Communication Disorders; and Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Although these disorders seem to be heterogeneous, they share similarities on some risk and clinical factors. There is evidence of a neurodevelopmental genetic phenotype, the disorders have an early emerging and continuing course, and all have salient cognitive symptoms. Within-cluster co-morbidity also supports grouping these disorders together. Other childhood disorders currently listed in DSM-IV share similarities with the Externalizing and Emotional clusters. These include Conduct Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Separation Anxiety Disorder. The Tic, Eating/Feeding and Elimination disorders, and Selective Mutisms were allocated to the ‘Not Yet Assigned’ group.


Neurodevelopmental disorders meet some of the salient criteria proposed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to suggest a classification cluster.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Professor G. Andrews, 299 Forbes Street, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia2010. (Email:
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