NLVD in Future DSMs

Inclusion of NVLD in Future DSMs (PI: Fisher, Methodology & Measurement Group

Non-verbal learning disability (NVLD) is not included as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Although an “NVLD profile” is increasingly recognized by neuropsychologists and in educational settings, there is no standard definition for making this diagnosis. Only if NVLD is established and defined as a discrete clinical entity, with a distinct set of agreed-upon criteria, will those with NVLD be able to access appropriate interventions and accommodations.

Further, because there is no standard definition, research groups vary in the definitions they use for NVLD, making it difficult to compare results between research studies. Consistency in criteria is important in moving the field forward by improving identification and designing and testing interventions.

Thus, a long-term goal of the NVLD Project is to submit a proposal to the Steering Committee of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) for the inclusion of NVLD in future DSMs.

In preparation for this, we are engaged in the following activities:

  1. Conducting a systematic literature review of NVLD to identify what criteria are currently being used to consider a diagnosis of NVLD and how these criteria were evaluated. We are examining the quality of the research (e.g., samples used, assessment, etc.), as well as consulting with recognized experts in NVLD.
  2. Preparing a critical review article which evaluates the current state of knowledge of NVLD and criteria for diagnosis.
  3. Creating a “working draft” criteria set that can be applied reliably by clinicians.
  4. Convening a consensus conference in which NVLD researchers and clinicians will meet to further define the disorder and discuss research, data, and strategies for preparing the proposal.