First draft national guideline for autism diagnosis released

Tuesday, 12 September, 2017

First draft national guideline for autism diagnosis released

Now available for consultation, Australia’s first draft national guideline for autism diagnosis has been released. The draft guideline is a result of comprehensive research and a 12-month consultation process conducted by Autism CRC and the National Disability Insurance Agency in partnership with the Telethon Kids Institute.

The draft guideline aims to create greater consistency in diagnostic practices across the country to ensure autistic individuals and their families can be assured of quality and knowledgeable advice. The guideline also emphasises the importance of listening to individuals and their families about the impact of the behaviours on family life.

Autism diagnosis in Australia is a challenging issue. With no established biological marker for all individuals on the autism spectrum, diagnosis is not a straightforward task for several reasons:

  • Diagnosis is based on clinical judgement of behavioural presentation.
  • Variability in autism symptoms, together with considerable behavioural overlap with other developmental conditions.
  • Clinicians have varying levels of skill and experience.

Further complicating diagnosis, considerable variance exists between diagnostic practices across and within Australian states and territories. A review of diagnostic practices in Australia conducted by the Autism CRC concluded that these variances likely contribute to the inconsistent provision and availability of public services and support for autistic individuals and their families.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse — who is the Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at Telethon Kids Institute, Chief Research Officer at Autism CRC and Professor of Autism Research at The University of Western Australia — said the guideline has been developed through a comprehensive consultation process that engaged many people on the spectrum as well as family members, clinicians, service providers and policymakers across Australia.

“The community has been requesting a national and consistent guideline for autism diagnosis for many years. The partnership between the Autism CRC and the NDIA has enabled the draft guideline to be developed through a comprehensive research process and in close consultation with the clinical and autistic community,” he said.

“By developing this draft national guideline, we hope to make the diagnostic process more consistent and efficient across Australia, so that everyone can receive an informed diagnosis regardless of age and location, and make informed decisions about next steps.”

Consultation on the draft guideline is now open and members of the community are invited to provide feedback by 19 October 2017 via the Autism CRC website.

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