Autism Spectrum Disorders Guidelines

The new DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorders guidelines were published in May 2013. These guidelines provide clinical and research guidance for diagnosing and managing ASD. The new criteria are based on current and past functioning and include observational criteria for early detection. Individuals with ASD may have difficulty initiating social interactions and exhibit unusual responses to social advances. They may also appear to have decreased interest in social interactions and may show a pattern of repetitive behaviors that interfere with daily functioning.

The new guidelines recognize the differences in diagnosis rates and assessment criteria among countries. This is likely due to increasing awareness of autism. The guidelines also acknowledge that different cultures have different thresholds for diagnosis and The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations are a good start for a comprehensive assessment. Although the diagnostic process is not always uniform, the tools help health care professionals determine the most appropriate intervention for each patient. The following are the most common symptoms of autism, as reported by health care providers.

The RCPsych and ICD-10 guidelines stress the importance of clinical judgement in the diagnosis of ASD. The DSM-5 outline the need for a combination of diagnostic criteria and flexibly applied guidelines. The NICE children’s guidelines recommend that clinicians use information from all sources, including family history and the child’s behavior. The DSM-IV guideline suggests that clinicians may rely on ‘feel’ or interactions with the patient when diagnosing ASD.

The guidelines acknowledge that there is variation in diagnosis rates and assessment criteria. However, despite the wide variance, the number of individuals with ASDs increases. This means that the need for diagnostic services is increasing. A good example of this is the increase in the numbers of individuals with ASD. With increased awareness, more individuals will be diagnosed. A proper treatment plan should be based on both evidence-based information and the patient’s history.

In the DSM-5, diagnostic criteria for assessing children with ASDs are not limited to a particular ethnicity or socioeconomic background. The DSM-5 states that autism can be diagnosed by using clinical judgment and ICD-10 or DSM-IV criteria. During a diagnostic process, clinicians may use ‘feel’ of the patient’s interaction. These guidelines are available in many languages and are intended for health care practitioners in any country.

The guidelines for Autism acknowledge the differences in diagnostic criteria, practice, and rates. The DSM-5 acknowledges that the best way to diagnose autism is through clinical judgment. There are no specific guidelines that can prescribe the right treatment. Most clinicians use the DSM-IV or ICD-10 criteria to diagnose a child with ASD. While the guidelines are helpful for diagnosing ASDs, they do not replace a qualified medical diagnosis.

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