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How Diagnosis Happens


While there are norms for arriving at a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), different procedures are sometimes used by medical professionals according to the situation and needs of their individual patients. For this reason, the information that follows is only a general guide to the process which usually occurs when a child is diagnosed with ASD. For a simple flowchart which shows the common processes for reaching a diagnosis of ASD click here.


There are a number of government-funded teams that specialise in the assessment and diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Parents/carers can contact these teams directly, or seek a referral from a doctor. Alternatively, families may access private medical services. Assessments are generally carried out by a psychologist, paediatrician and speech pathologist, however other health professionals (such as an occupational therapist, child and adolescent psychiatrist or others) may be involved in this process.


The health professionals consult with each other and reach agreement about whether the child meets the criteria for a diagnosis of ASD. These criteria are laid out in professional manuals which describe agreed criteria for a range of conditioning, including an ASD diagnosis.  The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) are used by medical professionals when making a diagnosis of ASD. It describes the agreed criteria for determining whether a person has ASD. The fifth edition of the DSM was released in 2013. This latest version of the DSM contained changes to the criteria for diagnosing ASD.


The process for assessing whether a student has ASD can be time-consuming. This is often a stressful period for parents/carers. Support and information are available through Amaze, formerly known as Autism Victoria. For more information about how to contact Amaze, click here.