How is ASD Diagnosed?
When diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), clinicians and diagnosticians use a number of measures to determine whether or not an individual meets the criteria for a diagnosis. They may conduct observations, take a developmental history, and assess the individual's communication skills, social and play skills, adaptive behaviour and cognitive skills. Usually a number of professionals are involved in the diagnosis, including a paediatrician, psychiatrist or psychologist.
The Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) has now released Australia's first National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The recommendations of the guideline are based on the best available scientific evidence and have been approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and had financial support from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Register to download the guidelines and supporting documents from the Autism CRC's website.
One of the items in a diagnostician tool kit is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, A publication of the American Psychiatric Association which includes the diagnostic criteria for many different conditions including ASD). The DSM is revised periodically to bring it in line with current research and practice. As new evidence about a condition is discovered, the manual changes to more closely reflect the new understanding of the condition.
The fourth edition of the DSM (DSM-IV) was published in 1994, and since this time there have been many studies conducted and thousands of articles published to give us a greater understanding of autism.
In May 2013, the DSM-5 was released and in it there have been some changes to the diagnostic criteria for ASD. These were based on expert advice from clinicians and researchers in the field of ASD. The proposed criteria were open for public discussion and underwent a number of revisions before the final criteria were settled. The criteria as they appear in the new edition are through to capture how we currently conceptualise ASD.