Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Published in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (online before print October 24, 2013), doi: 10.1177/0004867413509695


Published by Sage Publications on behalf of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Used by permission.


A recent commentary reignited discussion within this journal about the access by clinicians to the updated Australian National Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (The Royal Australian College of Physicians, 2009). We seek to extend this debate by noting that the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) included a number of changes to the definition of ADHD. Given the reliance of these draft national guidelines on the DSM-IV, it can be expected that the DSM-5 changes will also have significant impact on the future form of guidelines, research and clinical practice (Al-Yagon et al., 2013). Further, the high prevalence of ADHD makes it important for clinicians to understand these recent changes and their implications for diagnosis and treatment (Bell, 2011).

Close analysis shows that the changes in the DSM-5 are more than just a tweak in terminology. The result is likely to be a growth in levels of diagnosis and increased demands on clinical, health and education professionals.