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3.1. Outline the current guidelines for the diagnosis of autism in the UK.


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The NHS describes the process for getting an Autism diagnosis in the UK on this page.


Initially, an individual that has signs of autism should speak with a health professional, such as their GP, or a child’s Health Visitor and ask to be referred for an autism assessment. It can take a few months to get an appointment for the assessment.

An autism assessment is then carried out by autism specialists. This involves one or more sessions that can include:

  • A consultation
  • A questionnaire
  • Speaking with family members and/or teachers
  • Observations at school
  • Checking medical history

Tools that may be used in the diagnostic process include:

  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)
    The individual is asked to carry out a series of tasks whilst the assessor provides opportunities for them to demonstrate social and communication skills. Typically lasts between 30-60 minutes.
  • Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO)
    Developed by Wing & Gould, DISCO is a detailed interview designed to build up a holistic picture of the individual
  • Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R)
    Semi-structured interview with the parents/caregivers of an individual being diagnosed for autism

Following the assessment, the individual will receive a report stating whether they meet the criteria for autism diagnosis or not and any recommended support. There will also be the opportunity to arrange another appointment to discuss the result.



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