Controversial changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders have led some to question if the new version will catch all autism cases. In a population-based study, a collection of United States researchers found that DSM-5 criteria likely captures about 81 percent of existing autism cases. Explore this page to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.
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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of conditions with common social and behavioral deficits. Trained specialists use behavioral tests to diagnose ASD. Although some ASD traits may appear as early as infancy, the average age for ASD diagnosis is about 4 years old. Despite increase in research funding and media focus, no molecular, genetic or brain imaging tests are available for diagnosing autism.
At present, diagnosing ASD requires a comprehensive approach that includes systematic and structured observation of a child by trained clinicians. Guidelines for ASD diagnosis are set forth by the American Psychiatric Association, through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition (DSM-5) in the United States and the International Classification of Diseases tenth edition (ICD-10) in the European Union.
There are two stages for diagnosing autism:
- The first stage is screening, an easy-to-use, general method that identifies a potential risk for developing ASD.
- The second stage is diagnostics, an in-depth examination that requires the assessment of cognition, linguistics, and motor skills by a qualified medical team to accurately diagnose the developmental disorder and the degree of the disorder.