Possible implications of New DSM-5 PDD Diagnosis for OT, PT, and ST

Given the DSM-5 diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder “ASD” as a single diagnosis with differing degrees of severity and a subcategory of restricted repetitive behaviors occupational, speech-language, and physical therapists are uniquely qualified to offer important diagnostic input. ASD is categorized as Level 1 requiring support, Level 2 requiring substantial support, and Level 3 requiring very substantial support. Particularly given their respective expertise regarding functional sensory activities, speech/communication, and movement development occupational, physical, and speech therapist assessments can uniquely inform the diagnosis of PDD.

Occupational, physical, and speech/language therapists offer unique expertise in the areas of functional sensory, speech, and motor development. Their expertise regarding functional sensory, speech/communication, and movement development can enhance comprehensive intervention plans to enhance social skills as well as address repetitive behaviors. For example occupational therapy expertise regarding the development of functional sensory skills can enhance the abilities of children with PDD to learn to play catch, brush their teeth, and engage in many functional sensory tasks that normalize social development in a family context. Occupational, speech-language, and physical therapists are potentially valuable allies for pediatricians, psychiatrists, and mental health therapists in the assessment, treatment, and research of individuals with Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

Dunn, W. (2007). Supporting children to participate successfully in everyday life by using sensory processing knowledge. Infants & Young Children, 20(2), 84-101.
Silva, L.M. Schalock, M., Gabrielsen, C. (2011). Early intervention for Autism with a parent-delivered qigong massage program: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(5), 550-559.
Whitney, R.V. & Miller-Kuhaneck, H. (2012). Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 changes to the autism spectrum criteria: A critical moment for occupational Therapists. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 1(1), article 7.

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