The new DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) includes three severity levels for autism. These levels specify the level of support required to function in the communityhereonthespectrum.com. These categories vary over time and may be influenced by context and the severity of restricted repetitive behaviors. While these severity ratings are useful for assessing and diagnosing autism, they are not used to diagnose the condition nor determine eligibility for services. Therefore, they are not always helpful.
The government guidelines also recommend that each state create its own autism certification medical board consisting of a pediatrician, a clinical psychologist, and a psychiatrist. An autism certificate must be provided to each child who meets all criteria for diagnosis and to parents and other health care providers. This certificate should be valid for five years, or until the individual reaches age 18 or achieves a permanent disability. The physician should also consider diagnostic difficulties associated with co-existing disorders and genetic testing.
The guidelines are based on current research, and are intended to provide a framework for the diagnosis of autism. While they do not recommend specific diagnostic tests, the early identification of the disorder is still a crucial step. Earlier diagnosis and intervention can help the child with autism reach an optimal level of development. Despite the limitations of these guidelines, the evidence shows that early intervention is beneficial in the long-term. If a child with autism is diagnosed with an earlier stage, a higher percentage of the child will achieve a better outcome.
Differential diagnosis of autism and other conditions based on the core domains is essential to ensure a high-quality care. The clinician must carefully examine the patient to rule out co-occurring conditions and search for the underlying etiology. The diagnostic process involves an assessment of the child’s birth history and present health, a physical examination, neurologic evaluation, and neuropsychological assessment. A genetic test is also optional.
The DSM-5 has been in use since the early 1970s and has changed a number of diagnostic guidelines. The DSM-5 includes a new definition of autism called Pervasive Developmental Disorders. The DSM-5’s autism definition, however, was much more comprehensive and has been used as the basis for diagnostic criteria ever since. The DSM-5 is the most recent version of the DSM and is a reference for clinicians, as it includes more details about the spectrum of symptoms that autism can lead to.
The DSM-5 recommends that a clinician consider the person’s cultural background and social factors in determining whether they have autism. For example, an individual with autism is likely to be bilingual, have an accent, or be able to communicate with people from different cultures. These criteria can lead to a more accurate diagnosis. A physician must consider these factors in determining whether a child has autism, and how to treat it.