A National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Australia
Download the National Guideline
Developed and published by Autism CRC with the financial support of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the Guideline aims to create greater consistency in diagnostic practices across the country to ensure individuals on the autism spectrum and their families can receive the optimal clinical care.
The Guideline also emphasises the importance of listening to individuals and their families about the impact of the behaviours on family life.
The community has been requesting a national and consistent guideline for autism assessment and diagnosis for many years, and we are pleased to release a guideline that responds to this need. The guideline recommendations were approved by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Guideline outlines a step-by-step process for conducting a Comprehensive Needs Assessment and a Diagnostic Evaluation of autism, from the time of referral until the results are shared in a written report.
The Guideline outlines processes for both diagnostic decision-making and the comprehensive assessment of individual support needs. An accompanying Administrative and Technical Report provides detailed information on the guideline development process and the Evidence Tables outlines the evidence supporting the recommendations made in this Guideline.
The number of sessions and the health professionals involved may differ according to a range of factors, such as the presentation of the individual being assessed, their geographic location and the organisation in which the assessment is conducted.
If the clinical team that conducted the previous diagnostic assessment has suggested you/your child is reassessed in the future, it is recommended that this future assessment utilise the process described in the guideline.
While it is not mandatory for clinicians to follow the consensus-based recommendations outlined in the guideline, a critical next step is for a coordinated implementation project that supports the clinical community and government departments to adopt the recommendations.
The purpose of the Comprehensive Needs Assessment is to understand the strengths, challenges and needs of the individual being assessed. This assessment consists of two parts: an Assessment of Functioning and a Medical Evaluation.
Assessment of Functioning
The purpose of this assessment is to obtain a detailed understanding of an individual’s level of ability across a broad range of areas, including cognitive abilities, speech and language function, and daily living skills. Some of the information collected during this assessment will be about:
- medical and health history
- family history
- developmental and functional abilities.
An Assessment of Functioning can be performed by one or more medical and/or allied health professionals. This could be a medical practitioner (e.g. GP, paediatrician, psychiatrist), nurse practitioner, occupational therapist, psychologist, social worker or speech pathologist with relevant training and expertise.Medical Evaluation
The purpose of this evaluation is to understand if there are medical causes for the behaviours that have prompted a referral for an assessment. A Medical Evaluation involves:
- a general physical examination
- other specific medical tests.
A Medical Evaluation is completed by a medical practitioner, such as a paediatrician, psychiatrist or GP.
- a review of previously collected information
- an interview with the individual and/or their caregiver
- an assessment of the signs and symptoms for ASD and other related conditions
- assessments of related behaviours, such as cognitive ability, and speech and language skills.
We thank Dr Emma Goodall for providing the cover art for the National Guideline.
"Hidden under the layers of the ¾ of an infinity symbol are a normal distribution curve, a brain and branches seeking connection from a brain/person to an anchor. The ¾ infinity symbol also more explicitly shows the variety within the spectrum but the gaps in knowledge and connections."