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There is a better way to diagnose autism


Looks like even when clinicians are staring at the same test results, the same interview notes and the same children, they are coming up with different diagnoses. How valuable is a diagnosis if they vary from clinic to clinic?

“Clinicians at one center may use a label like Asperger syndrome to describe a set of symptoms, while those at another center may use an entirely different label for the same symptoms. This is not a good way to make a diagnosis,” says the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Catherine Lord, director of the Institute for Brain Development, a partnership of Weill Cornell Medical College, New York – Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center. “Autism spectrum disorders are just that – a spectrum of disorders. “

Currently, to diagnose a spectrum disorder, clinicians administer tests and use observational data and parent interviews to classify an individual into a subcategory. The process is referred to as “best-estimate clinical diagnoses”.

People are already questioning the value of the subcategories: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. “There has been a lot of controversy about whether there should be separate diagnoses for autism spectrum disorder, especially Asperger syndrome,” Dr. Lord says. “Most of the research has suggested that Asperger syndrome really isn’t different from other autism spectrum disorders.”

Researchers found that diagnoses varied from site to site across the country. Test results on the individuals did not vary, but clinic diagnoses ranged from 0% to 21%. Clinicians varied on the way they weighed data and considered other factors like IQ. Dr. Lord wants the process changed. She wants children to receive a general diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder, followed by a list of their strengths and weaknesses.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Archives of General Psychiatry

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