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Draft national guideline to improve diagnostic practices for Australians on the autism spectrum released

Australia’s first draft national guideline for autism diagnosis have been released for consultation. The draft guideline aims to create greater consistency in diagnostic practices across the country to ensure autistic individuals and their families can be assured of quality and knowledgeable advice.

Developed under a collaboration between Autism CRC and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), The draft guideline aims to ensure quality and knowledgeable advice. 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 diagnosis for many years. The partnership between the Autism CRC and the NDIA has enabled the draft guideline to be developed through a comprehensive research process and in close consultation with the clinical and autistic community”, said Professor Andrew Whitehouse, Chief Research Officer, Autism CRC.

Informed diagnosis is an important step to help families identify the nature and impact of autism on a person’s life, and importantly then identify the most appropriate types of supports best placed to assist - such as the education and health systems, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“By developing this draft national guideline, we hope to make the diagnostic process more consistent and efficient across Australia, so that everyone can receive an informed diagnosis regardless of age and location, and make informed decisions about next steps,” said Prof Andrew Whitehouse.

Autism diagnosis in Australia is a challenging issue. With no established biological marker for all individuals on the autism spectrum, diagnosis is not a straightforward task for several reasons:

  • Diagnosis is based on clinical judgement of behavioural presentation
  • Variability in autism symptoms, together with considerable behavioural overlap with other developmental conditions
  • Clinicians have varying levels of skill and experience.

Further complicating diagnosis, considerable variance exists between diagnostic practices across and within Australian states and territories. A review of diagnostic practices in Australia conducted by Autism CRC concluded these variances likely contribute to the inconsistent provision and availability of public services and support.

To obtain a copy of the draft national guideline and provide comments, go to

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