A major study has been launched to develop Australia’s first national diagnostic guideline for autism led by The Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC).
There is strong evidence of substantial variability in autism assessment processes between clinicians, between states and between rural and metropolitan areas. This is leading to delays in diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and inequity in access to services.
Commissioned under a collaboration between Autism CRC and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), a national guideline will ensure that each individual across Australia has knowledge of, and access to, best practice in autism diagnosis.
The project will be led by Professor Andrew Whitehouse (Director of the Autism CRC Diagnosis Research Program), in conjunction with Clinical Associate Professor John Wray, Professor Margot Prior, Professor Valsamma Eapen and Kiah Evans.
Professor Whitehouse from The University of Western Australia said this project will define a diagnostic process that ensures consistency and accuracy in diagnosis, is feasible to deliver, and acceptable to those on the spectrum and their families.
“The substantial variability that exists across Australia in autism diagnostic processes provides confusion to families, clinicians and government,” said Professor Whitehouse.
“Developing a national diagnostic protocol is a critical step to ensuring consistent and equitable access to autism diagnosis across Australia for both children and adults.”
NDIA Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Louise Glanville, said the Agency was committed to co-design and recognised the design of the Scheme must be informed by the lived experiences of participants and people with disability.
“Working with Autism CRC provides the Agency with an opportunity to participate in an exceptional collaboration with the autism community, researchers, practitioners and service providers to improve the diagnosis and early identification and understanding of autism,” Ms Glanville said.
While access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is not dependent on a diagnosis, the team will be working closely with the NDIA to ensure the guideline aligns with the processes for entry into the NDIS.
“Our aim is that all those on the autism spectrum and their families are given access to best-practice diagnostic processes. Aligning the guideline with the NDIS from the start will provide an integrated pathway to therapies and timely intervention, which will have enormous benefits for those with the lived experience of autism,” said Professor Whitehouse.
Autism CRC provides the national capacity to develop and deliver evidence-based outcomes through its unique collaboration with the autism community, research organisations, service providers and government.
The study underway is part of a broader collaboration between Autism CRC and the NDIA in research across the lifespan to support the autism community to access evidence-based services.
Autism CRC is the world’s first national research effort focused on autism across the lifespan, working together with the autism community to provide the evidence base to support individuals on the spectrum throughout their lives.
Click here for more information and to provide an expression of interest to stay updated on the progress of the study.
Tess Cosgrove, Autism CRC Communications Manager 0424 409 155/ firstname.lastname@example.org