autism spectrum disorders

Assessment, diagnosis and clinical
interventions for children and young
people with autism spectrum disorders
A national clinical guideline
1 introduction  1
2     Definitions and concepts     3
3     Recognition, assessment and diagnosis     5
4     Principles of intervention     15
5     Non-pharmacological interventions     16
6     Pharmacological interventions     21
7     Service provision     25
8  information for discussion with  28
children, young people, parents and carers
9     Implementation, resource implications      36
and audit
10     Development of the guideline     39
Abbreviations 44
Annexes     45
References     60
the guideline can be used in
association with the suite of Asd
specific resources developed by
nhs education for scotland
July 2007
copies of All sign guidelines Are AvAilABle online At http://www.sign.Ac.uK
Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
S IGN
98
98this document is produced from elemental chlorine-free material and       is sourced from sustainable forests
Key to evidence stAtements And grAdes of recommendAtions
levels of evidence
1++ High quality meta-analyses, systematic reviews of RCTs, or RCTs with a very low risk of bias
1+ Well conducted meta-analyses, systematic reviews, or RCTs with a low risk of bias
1 – Meta-analyses, systematic reviews, or RCTs with a high risk of bias
2++  High quality systematic reviews of case control or cohort studies
High quality case control or cohort studies with a very low risk of confounding or bias and a
high probability that the relationship is causal
2+  Well conducted case control or cohort studies with a low risk of confounding or bias and a
moderate probability that the relationship is causal
2 –  Case control or cohort studies with a high risk of confounding or bias and a significant risk that
the relationship is not causal
3 Non-analytic studies, eg case reports, case series
4 Expert opinion
GRADES OF RECOMMENDATION
Note: The grade of recommendation relates to the strength of the evidence on which the
recommendation is based. It does not reflect the clinical importance of the recommendation.
A  At least one meta-analysis, systematic review, or RCT rated as 1++,
and directly applicable to the target population;  or
A body of evidence consisting principally of studies rated as 1+,
directly applicable to the target population, and demonstrating overall consistency of results
B A body of evidence including studies rated as 2++,
directly applicable to the target population, and demonstrating overall consistency of results; or
Extrapolated evidence from studies rated as 1++ or 1+
C A body of evidence including studies rated as 2+,
directly applicable to the target population and demonstrating overall consistency of results; or
Extrapolated evidence from studies rated as 2++
D Evidence level 3 or 4;  or
Extrapolated evidence from studies rated as 2+
GOOD PRACTICE POINTS
  Recommended best practice based on the clinical experience of the guideline development
group.Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
Assessment, diagnosis and clinical
interventions for children and young
people with autism spectrum disorders
A national clinical guideline
July 2007© Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
ISBN(10) 1 905813 08 2
ISBN(13) 978 1 905813 08 7
First published 2007
SIGN consents to the photocopying of this guideline for the
purpose of implementation in NHSScotland
Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
28 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1EN
http://www.sign.ac.uk
1 Introduction
1.1 THE NEED FOR A GUIDELINE
In 200, the Public Health Institute of Scotland (PHIS) Autistic Spectrum Disorders Needs Assessment
Report recommended that a SIGN guideline should be developed to improve the assessment and
management of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in Scotland.

The 2003 National Autism Plan for
Children (NAPC) for England and Wales highlighted the need for a systematic approach to ASD
assessment, diagnosis and intervention.
2
The PHIS report reviewed ASD prevalence studies and estimated that there were 7,74 children
under 19 in Scotland with ASD. The figure was based on a previously published ASD prevalence
rate of 70.3 per 0,000 in pre-school children.
, 3
In a more recent study, the total prevalence of ASD in 9-0 year olds was 6. per 0,000 in the
Thames region of London in 2006.
4
ASD occurs more commonly in boys than girls, at a ratio of approximately 4:, although this varies
across the spectrum.
5
There is no evidence of an association between ASD and social class
6, 7
or
ethnicity.
7, 8
Early diagnosis and appropriate intervention, specialised education, and structured support may
help a child to maximise his or her potential. There are significant disparities in multiagency ASD
provision in Scotland.
9
Variation in referrals from primary care may be related to the problems that
some primary care professionals can have in recognising the key symptoms of ASD. Referral rates may
also be influenced by parental education and social class.
0
There is variation in referral pathways
and service provision and in the range of healthcare and other professionals involved.
1.2 REMIT OF THE GUIDELINE
The guideline applies to children and young people up to the age of 8, which may include the
period of transition from childhood to adult services. Sometimes the evidence and any consequent
recommendations are age specific.
This guideline focuses on assessment, diagnosis and clinical interventions for ASD. It considers the
evidence for joint working and consultation with children and young people, and with parents and
carers. It also considers the evidence for how multidisciplinary and multiagency working can best
address the needs of individuals with ASD at all levels of provision (primary, secondary and tertiary
care).
The guideline does not examine the broad range of educational and social opportunities offered
to children and young people with ASD, which may add value to their lives and promote social
inclusion. Educational interventions which may influence clinical outcomes have been considered
(see section 3).
The guideline does not review epidemiology, including that relating to the possible increase in the
prevalence of ASD, and the use of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Summaries of
the issues and the evidence around ASD and MMR have been published elsewhere, for example:
http://www.mmrthefacts.nhs.uk/ or http://www.healthscotland.com/immunisation/mmr/mmrdiscussionpack.cfm
and http://www.mrc.ac.uk/pdf-autism-report.pdf
The management of ASD involves a wide range of professionals. A number of different pathways
of care, all involving a variety of specialists, exist across Scotland. This guideline will be of interest
to healthcare professionals and others involved in the care of children with ASD, including; child
and adolescent psychiatrists, clinical and educational psychologists, commissioners of health,
educational and social children’s services, dietitians, general practitioners (GPs), health visitors,
nurses, occupational therapists, ophthalmologists, paediatricians, parent/carer groups, primary care
mental health workers, psychotherapists, physiotherapists, social workers, speech and language
therapists and teachers. The guideline will also be of interest to children and young people with
ASD and their families.
1  INTRODUCTION2
AASSESSMENT SSESSMENT, , DIAGNOSIS DIAGNOSIS AND AND CLINICAL CLINICAL INTER INTERvvENTIONS ENTIONS FOR FOR CHILDREN CHILDREN AND AND y yOUNG OUNG p pEOEOppLELE w wITHITH AUTISM AUTISM SSppECTRUM ECTRUM DISORDERS DISORDERS
1.3 AIM AND ETHOS OF THE GUIDELINE
The aim of this guideline is to provide the evidence base and recommendations to inform
clinical service provision, in particular, assessment and clinical intervention. The guideline
development group hopes that the concept of “ASD-friendly” services is a constant throughout
this guideline. The involvement of parents and family and the young person affected by ASD is
important to the success of any intervention. Healthcare professionals should be given adequate
time for discussion with children, young people and parents and there should be continuity of
care across services.
It is recognised that many assessments and interventions will be undertaken with partners
in education, supported within the new framework of the Additional Support for Learning
(Education) Scotland Act (2004), and with partners in social services (see http://www.opsi.gov.uk/
legislation/scotland/acts2004/20040004.htm).
1.4 CHALLENGES IN REvIEwING THE EvIDENCE
Accurate diagnosis of ASD can be difficult, but when reviewing the literature for this guideline, it
has only been possible to interpret and generalise from studies where the approach to diagnosis
has been clearly stated.  When considering the literature it was evident that studies of children
and young people with ASD varied in terms of how the diagnosis had been made. This made
it difficult to compare or combine the results of studies, as it was not always clear which, if
any, definition of ASD had been used, or whether populations with similar characteristics were
being studied.
When reviewing the literature the guideline development group considered the assessment
process, classification system and diagnostic instrument to be important in the accurate diagnosis
of ASD (see annex 1 for further details). Recommendations derived from studies that did not
clearly describe how participants were diagnosed were downgraded according to the SIGN
grading system.
Some interventions may be evaluated through methods not currently defined within the SIGN
grading system. In recognition of this, meta-analyses of well conducted single case designs
carried out over at least two cycles have been classed as level 2 evidence.
Recommendations have been made where evidence is available. There was often a lack of
evidence for investigations and interventions that are in everyday use. Research in these areas
should be a priority (see section 9.4, recommendations for research).
1.5 STATEMENT OF INTENT
This guideline is not intended to be construed or to serve as a standard of care. Standards
of care are determined on the basis of all clinical data available for an individual case and
are subject to change as scientific knowledge and technology advance and patterns of care
evolve. Adherence to guideline recommendations will not ensure a successful outcome in
every case, nor should they be construed as including all proper methods of care or excluding
other acceptable methods of care aimed at the same results. The ultimate judgement must be
made by the appropriate healthcare professional(s) responsible for clinical decisions regarding
a particular clinical procedure or treatment plan.  This judgement should only be arrived at
following discussion of the options with the patient and their carer where appropriate, covering
the diagnostic and treatment choices available. However, it is advised that significant departures
from the national guideline or any local guidelines derived from it should be fully documented
in the patient’s case notes at the time the relevant decision is taken.
1.6 REvIEw AND UpDATING
This guideline was issued in 2007 and will be considered for review in three years. Any updates
to the guideline in the interim period will be noted on the SIGN website: http://www.sign.ac.uk3
2 Definitions and concepts
2.1 DEFINITIONS
The term autism spectrum disorders has been used throughout this guideline to cover
conditions termed autism, atypical autism and Asperger’s syndrome (see annex 2). These are
complex developmental disorders, behaviourally defined, that include a range of possible
developmental impairments in reciprocal social interaction and communication, and also a
stereotyped, repetitive or limited, behavioural repertoire. ASD may occur in association with
any level of general intellectual/ learning ability, and manifestations range from subtle problems
of understanding and impaired social function to severe disabilities.

Impairments in each of the areas relevant to ASD diagnoses occur along a continuum from
minimal to severe and categorical diagnoses inevitably involve defining a cut off. Diagnostic
classification in itself should not be the basis for decisions about provision within education,
or needs for social care and support.
2
2.2 DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA
There are two major diagnostic classification systems in current use, the International
Classification of Diseases, version 10 (ICD-10)

and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders 4
th
edition (DSM-IV).
2
They have similar symptom criteria for diagnosis,
based on a triad of impairments, with the behaviours being discrepant from the individual’s
mental age:
3, 4
social – impaired, deviant and delayed or atypical social development, especially
interpersonal development
language and communication – impaired and deviant language and communication, verbal
and non-verbal. Impairment in pragmatic aspects of language
thought and behaviour – rigidity of thought and behaviour and impoverished social
imagination. Ritualistic behaviour, reliance on routines, impairment of imaginative play.
A comparison of the two systems is given in annex 2.
ICD-0 (available in complementary clinical and research forms) is the most commonly used
ASD classification system in the UK, although many research studies use DSM-IV or other
criteria. For this reason and to minimise complexity, where differences of terminology occur
between ICD-0 and DSM-IV, this guideline has used that within ICD-0.
The diagnostic criteria for ASD continue to develop as more research is done and understanding
improves, and they are likely to change with future revisions. For example, for a diagnosis of
Asperger’s syndrome, both systems require no clinically significant general delay in language
(speech of words and phrases by specified times) and no clinically significant general delay in
cognitive development. DSM-IV also employs an explicit hierarchy, so that Asperger’s syndrome
can only be diagnosed if criteria for autism are not met. This is not specified in the same way
within ICD-0.
Wider usage of diagnostic terms may be influenced by other factors and may not always reflect
the definitions in classification systems. For example, the name Asperger’s syndrome may be
used for some individuals who speak well later, but did in fact have early language delay.



2  DEFINITIONS AND CONCEpTS4
2+
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
There is limited evidence on the reliability and validity of the existing classification systems,
ICD-0 and DSM-IV. Several studies have explored the discriminatory validity of Asperger’s
syndrome and autism, but no studies have looked at predictive validity.
Three studies all found that the use of DSM-IV and ICD-0 criteria for autism improve the
reliability of the diagnostic process.
5-7
The studies consistently found that:
using either DSM-IV or ICD-0 increases the reliability of the diagnostic process. The effect
is even greater when inexperienced practitioners are making the diagnosis
the current criteria for Asperger’s syndrome and autism have poor discriminant validity.
C All professionals involved in diagnosing ASD in children and young people should
consider using either ICD-10 or DSM-Iv.

5
2+
3
3 Recognition, assessment and diagnosis
3.1 RECOGNITION IN pRIMARy CARE
3.1.1 INTRODUCTION
The early detection of children requiring assessment for health problems and developmental
disorders is desirable and is the aim of child health screening and surveillance programmes.
These programmes are reviewed regularly by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
The most recent review entitled Health for all Children,
8
and commonly referred to as Hall
4, has led to a significant change in the provision of child health surveillance and screening in
Scotland.
9
Hall 4 states that every child and parent should have access to a universal or core programme
of preventative pre-school care, but that formal screening should be confined to the evidence
based programmes agreed by the UK National Screening Committee.
8
Hall 4 does not
recommend formal universal screening for speech and language delay, global developmental
delay or autism, but states that staff should elicit and respond to parental concerns as part of
child health surveillance. The report emphasises the need for an efficient preliminary assessment,
or triage process, to determine which children may need referral for fuller assessment and/or
intervention.
3..2 SCREENING
Screening has been defined by the UK National Screening Committee as “a public health service
in which members of a defined population, who do not necessarily perceive they are at risk of,
or are already affected by a disease or its complications, are asked a question or offered a test,
to identify those individuals who are more likely to be helped than harmed by further tests or
treatment to reduce the risk of a disease or its complications”.
20
Any screening test must have a known specificity (analogous to the risk of false positives)
and sensitivity (analogous to the risk of false negatives) within the population to which it is
being applied. The UK National Screening Committee
20
and a systematic review2
have not
identified any research into ASD screening instruments that meet the rigorous criteria for a
robust population screening test.
Population screening for ASD is not recommended. False positive or false negative results from
inappropriate use of screening tests may delay correct diagnosis. The decision about the need
for referral and further assessment should be made on clinical grounds.
C population screening for ASD is not recommended.
3.1.3 SURVEILLANCE
Child health surveillance takes a broad clinical approach involving partnership between
parents, children and health professionals. Child health surveillance can contribute to the early
recognition and diagnosis of ASD.
22
Surveillance for ASD should follow general developmental
surveillance and should be considered by all professionals working with children and young
people.
Responding to concerns raised by parents has a role in surveillance, and healthcare professionals
should be aware that parental concerns about the absence of normal developmental features
are as important as the presence of abnormal features.
22-27
The recognition of children requiring further assessment for ASD requires a high level of vigilance
for features indicative of abnormal development, both at any specific age and as they emerge
over a period of time. Two structured instruments are of potential use to help identify young
children with possible ASD during child health surveillance.
3  RECOGNITION, ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSIS6
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
4
The Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) was designed to identify 8 month old children at
risk of ASD. It has been tested in a general population setting and was found to have acceptable
specificity, but the sensitivity was too low for it to be used in total population screening.
28, 29
The modified CHAT (M-CHAT) is a parent report version of the CHAT designed to be used as
part of clinician led child health surveillance, with 8-24 month old children.
30
A preliminary study suggests the M-CHAT is useful but final data on the psychometric properties
from the ongoing follow up study are awaited.
These instruments can provide a useful structure for considering relevant clinical features during
surveillance by healthcare professionals. Surveillance remains dependent on the use of clinical
knowledge and skills to identify unusual patterns of development. Not all children with ASD
will be identified during child health surveillance, and parents should be encouraged to return
for further assessment, if they remain concerned about the development of their child.
Features which should alert healthcare professionals to the possibility of ASD are shown in
Tables , 2 and 3.
D As part of the core programme of child health surveillance, healthcare professionals
can contribute to the early identification of children requiring further assessment for
ASD, and other developmental disorders:
clinical assessment should incorporate a high level of vigilance for features
suggestive of ASD, in the domains of social interaction and play, speech and language
development and behaviour
CHAT or M-CHAT can be used in young children to identify clinical features
indicative of an increased risk of ASD but should not be used to rule out ASD.


Table 1 General developmental warnings of possible ASD in pre-school children
31
warning signs
delay or absence of spoken language
looks through people; not aware of others
not responsive to other people’s facial expression/feelings
lack of pretend play; little or no imagination
does not show typical interest in or play near peers purposefully
lack of turn-taking
unable to share pleasure
qualitative impairment in non-verbal communication
does not point at an object to direct another person to look at it
lack of gaze monitoring
lack of initiation of activity or social play
unusual or repetitive hand and finger mannerisms
unusual reactions, or lack of reaction, to sensory stimuli












7
Table 2 Warnings of possible ASD in school-age children
2
warning signs
Communication impairments
abnormalities in language development including muteness
odd or inappropriate prosody
persistent echolalia
reference to self as ‘you’, ‘she’ or ‘he’ beyond three years
unusual vocabulary for child’s age/social group
limited use of language for communication and/or tendency to talk freely only about
specific topics






Social impairments
inability to join in play of other children or inappropriate attempts at joint play (may
manifest as aggressive or disruptive behaviour)
lack of awareness of classroom ‘norms’ (criticising teachers, overt unwillingness to cooperate in classroom activities, inability to appreciate or follow current trends)
easily overwhelmed by social and other stimulation
failure to relate normally to adults (too intense/no relationship)
showing extreme reactions to invasion of personal space and resistance to being hurried





Impairments of interests, activities and/or behaviours
lack of flexible cooperative imaginative play/creativity
difficulty in organising self in relation to unstructured space (eg hugging the perimeter of
playgrounds, halls)
inability to cope with change or unstructured situations, even ones that other children
enjoy (school trips, teachers being away etc)



Other factors
unusual profile of skills/deficits
any other evidence of odd behaviours including unusual responses to sensory stimuli


3  RECOGNITION, ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSIS8
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Table 3 Additional warnings of possible ASD in adolescents*
NB difficulties are likely to be more subtle in older individuals or those without learning disability.
warning signs
General picture
long standing difficulties in social behaviours, communication and coping with change,
which are more obvious at times of transition (eg change of school, leaving school)
significant discrepancy between academic ability and ‘social’ intelligence , most difficulties
in unstructured social situations, eg in school or work breaks
socially ‘naïve’, lack common sense, not as independent as peers



Language, non-verbal skills and social communication
problems with communication, even if wide vocabulary and normal use of grammar. May
be unduly quiet, may talk at others rather than hold a to and fro conversation, or may
provide excessive information on topics of own interest
unable to adapt style of communication to social situations eg may sound like ‘a little
professor’ (overly formal), or be inappropriately familiar
may have speech peculiarities including ‘flat’, unmodulated speech, repetitiveness, use
of stereotyped phrases
may take things literally and fail to understand sarcasm or metaphor
unusual use and timing of non-verbal interaction (eg eye contact, gesture and facial
expression)





Social problems
difficulty making and maintaining peer friendships, though may find it easier with adults
or younger children
can appear unaware or uninterested in peer group ‘norms’, may alienate by behaviours
which transgress ‘unwritten rules’
may lack awareness of personal space, or be intolerant of intrusions on own space



Rigidity in thinking and behaviour
preference for highly specific, narrow interests or hobbies, or may enjoy collecting,
numbering or listing
strong preferences for familiar routines, may have repetitive behaviours or intrusive
rituals
problems using imagination eg in writing, future planning
may have unusual reactions to sensory stimuli eg sounds, tastes, smell, touch, hot or
cold.




* developed by the guideline group based on their knowledge of the evidence base and their clinical experience9
4
3
2+
3.1.4 SCREENING OF HIGH RISK GROUPS
The screening of children and young people thought to be at high risk (defined as secondary
screening) may be applied, for example, to children referred to services because of developmental
delay, emotional and behavioural problems, certain genetic syndromes or to siblings
32
of children
and young people with a diagnosis of ASD.
Secondary screening is dependent on an awareness that a child is at higher risk of ASD, and
the application of sound clinical knowledge and skills. Several structured instruments for use
in secondary screening have been examined in a number of studies using relatively small
cohorts.
30, 33-38
With all these instruments, the findings of the studies have not been replicated
outwith the study settings.
The use of these instruments can be considered as a supplement to the clinical assessment of
at-risk children, and may improve the reliability of the process used to screen for ASD, see annex
4. A single specific instrument cannot be recommended as each one is designed for use within
a limited age group, and often focuses on one particular ASD eg Asperger’s syndrome.
  The assessment of children and young people with developmental delay, emotional and
behavioural problems, or genetic syndromes should include surveillance for ASD as part
of routine practice.
  Healthcare professionals should consider informing families that there is a substantial
increased risk of ASD in siblings of affected children.
C  The use of an appropriate structured instrument may be a useful supplement to the
clinical process to identify children and young people at high risk of ASD.
3..5 TIMING OF DIAGNOSIS
In children under two years old typical ASD behaviours may not be evident. Absence of such
behaviours should not rule out the possibility of diagnosis.
22
The evidence regarding the minimum age at which ASD can be reliably diagnosed is not clear.
Findings suggest that:
the diagnosis of autism is always more reliable and stable than the diagnosis of other autism
spectrum disorders, regardless of age, and can be reliably diagnosed between the ages of
2-3 years by experienced healthcare professionals.
39, 40
in children later identified as having ASD, features reported when they were under two
years may have been non-specific.
4
D  ASD should be part of the differential diagnosis for very young (pre-school) children
displaying absence of normal developmental features, as typical ASD behaviours may
not be obvious in this age group.
  Regardless of the findings of any earlier assessments, referral for further diagnosis of an
ASD assessment should be considered at any age.
Suggested criteria for alerting features for ASD in older children are given in Tables 2 and 3.
3.2 METHODS OF ASSESSMENT
3.2.  INITIAL ASSESSMENT
The initial presentation can be to a wide range of professionals in primary care, education or
social services. Important information can be gathered at this stage that may suggest the need
for specialist assessment. Those involved in carrying out the initial assessment should be aware
of the core features of ASD as well as of the wide range of different possible presentations,
depending on the child’s level of communication and intellect, personality, gender differences,
family and educational supports.


3  RECOGNITION, ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSIS0
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Key areas to explore at this stage include:
the nature of the problem: are the presenting features of the type represented by the diagnostic
criteria for ASD?
the severity of the problem (dysfunction and/or distress in a number of contexts including
individual, family, educational or workplace, or severity in one such context).
  If, on the basis of initial assessment, it is suspected that a child or young person may
have ASD, they should be referred for specialist assessment.
3.2.2 SPECIALIST ASSESSMENT
The aim of specialist assessment is to gather and record information that enables diagnosis and
to formulate a multiagency management plan, leading to the development of an appropriate
programme of supportive intervention. Such an assessment is necessarily comprehensive and
may take place over a period of time.
2
A diagnosis of ASD may be seen as a life long ‘label’. For this reason, it is of equal importance
that clinicians diagnose, and not diagnose, accurately. Specialist healthcare professionals
must ensure that they are sufficiently informed and experienced to confidently diagnose in
the majority of cases and that they collaborate, where possible, with relevant multiagency
colleagues, so as to achieve diagnostic consensus. Healthcare professionals should also have
a low threshold of referral to more specialised colleagues in cases of diagnostic disagreement
or subtle presentation.
The process of assessment and diagnosis aims to review functioning in relevant domains,
make diagnoses as appropriate and facilitate seamless, multiagency intervention. It should
acknowledge that other conditions (for example, specific language impairment in a three
year-old, or first onset depression in a 13 year-old) may present in a superficially similar way
to ASD and also that there is significant potential for comorbidity.
Although the research evidence is limited, there is support for the use of multidisciplinary or
multiagency teams.
42-45
  The use of different professional groups in the assessment process is recommended as
it may identify different aspects of ASD and aid accurate diagnosis.
  Specialist assessment should involve a history-taking element, a clinical observation/
assessment element, and the obtaining of wider contextual and functional
information.
  Specialist assessment should be available for any children and young people who
need it. Specialist teams should assess if their service is being used equitably. Apparent
inequalities should be investigated and addressed.
  The appropriateness of an assessment of mental health needs should be considered for
all children and young people with ASD.
3.2.3 COMPONENTS OF SPECIALIST ASSESSMENT
History taking (parent/carer interview)
This is an important component of any ASD assessment. Without it, evidence of ASD-like
behaviour cannot be put into context. Use of ASD-specific history-taking instruments can be
useful in this process, although healthcare professionals should be mindful of a global perspective
on the circumstances of a child or young person, taking into consideration the possibility of
comorbidities and the possible differential diagnoses.


A clinical history should include:
a description of the current problems experienced by the parent/carer, the child/young
person and other individuals (eg teachers, nursery staff). The focus should be on eliciting
features consistent with the triad of impairments described in section 2.2
a history of the child/young person’s pre-natal, perinatal and developmental history
(including social and emotional factors) up to the patient’s age at assessment. This should
include a detailed enquiry into evidence of any problems at home, school or in other social
relationships
a family history including evidence of any ASD, speech and language difficulties, psychiatric
disorders, learning disability, epilepsy or developmental neurological problems
a description of who is in the family (eg use of a genogram) and any history of family
problems (eg parental separation/divorce) which might be affecting the child or young
person’s behaviour.
A framework for an ASD-specific developmental history is important and a version is available
in the NAPC.
2
In an older or more able individual, there may be successful compensation for
disabilities, and problems may only be evident within a detailed developmental history.
46
ASD-specific diagnostic instruments may be used to supplement the process of clinical history
taking. There are two theoretical approaches to the diagnostic classification of ASD – the
categorical and the dimensional. Categorical systems (such as ICD and DSM) have led to the
development of such instruments as the Autism Diagnostic Interview – revised (ADI-R).
47, 48
The dimensional concept has led to the development of the Diagnostic Interview for Social and
Communication Disorders (DISCO)
49
and the Developmental, Dimensional and Diagnostic
Interview (3di).
50
The Autism Diagnostic Interview – revised (ADI-R) has been shown to be a reliable diagnostic
instrument.
47, 48
It should be used with caution in children with a developmental level below
the age of two years. It has also been shown to be a valid instrument for diagnosing autism in
children of pre-school age.
5
The 3di and DISCO allow structured data collection in relation to ASD and other conditions.
The published data on the 3di suggests that it is a reliable and valid ASD diagnostic interview
schedule when compared to the ADI-R.
50
The published data on DISCO suggest that it has adequate inter-rater reliability for ICD-0
categories.
49, 52
D  Healthcare professionals involved in specialist assessment should take an ASD-specific
diagnostic history.
C  ASD-specific history-taking instruments may be considered as a means of improving
the reliability of ASD diagnosis.
Clinical observation/assessment (Child/young person assessment/ interview)
The experience of interacting with a child or young person, in order to elicit clinical evidence
of ASD that is compatible with ICD-10 or DSM-IV, is a significant professional task, which
cannot be undertaken without a substantial amount of clinical experience. Such skills are not
exclusive to disciplines. The crucial ingredients are training and experience.
Assessments of children and young people for ASD cannot be rushed. It may not be possible to
obtain sufficient evidence in one session and the child/young person may require observation
in different settings, eg at school (especially in unstructured activity such as break-time) as well
as the clinic.
2
ASD-specific diagnostic instruments may be used to supplement the process of clinical
observation, as part of the diagnostic assessment.
The Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) is an older instrument which encompasses history
and observation of spontaneous behaviours relevant to autism.
53, 54




4
2+
3
3  RECOGNITION, ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSIS
2+2
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule–Generic (ADOS-G),
55
has been shown to be
a reliable diagnostic instrument and can be used to supplement clinical history. It provides
standard contexts to elicit relevant social and communicative behaviours, rather than relying
on what is spontaneously manifested by a child or young person. ADOS-G has an excellent
diagnostic validity for autism versus non-ASD conditions, if controlled for expressive language
level.
55
A study of an earlier version (the ADOS) found that it was also a very specific diagnostic
instrument.
48
D  Healthcare professionals should directly observe and assess the child or young person’s
social and communication skills and behaviour.
C  Healthcare professionals should consider using ASD-specific observational instruments,
as a means of improving the reliability of ASD diagnosis.
Contextual and functional information
Helpful information about a child or young person’s functioning should be available from preschool or school provision, and additional input can be sought from any other educational or
social care professionals involved. Frameworks for information gathering to guide education
professionals are available.
This type of information increases understanding as to how a child functions in groups, in
unstructured settings, and when performing real life tasks. It may point clinicians towards
difficulties that are not evident in one to one observations, or in more structured assessment
contexts.
  Information about children’s and young people’s functioning outside the clinic setting,
should routinely be obtained from as many available sources as is feasible.
3.3 INDIvIDUAL pROFILING
Children and young people with ASD vary considerably in their individual strengths and
difficulties. More detailed assessment of communication, neuropsychological functioning,
motor and sensory skills, and adaptive functioning may be helpful.
By definition, all children and young people with ASD have an impairment in communication
which ranges from profound comprehension problems and lack of speech to subtle pragmatic or
functional use of language difficulties, such as failure to understand sarcasm or use of metaphor.
A wide range of speech and language and communication assessments are available
56-58
but
there is limited evidence to support the use of one assessment tool over another (see annex 3
for communication, speech and language assessments).
D  All children and young people with ASD should have a comprehensive evaluation of their
speech and language and communication skills, which should inform intervention.
  Practitioners should note that an individual’s level of comprehension may be at a lower
developmental level than that suggested by their expressive language skills.
Children and young people with ASD will have a range of impairments in intellectual,
neuropsychological and adaptive skills. A wide range of assessments were included in the
search strategy (see annex 3). These are useful for individual profiling but are not diagnostic
instruments.
59-64
Some impairments, such as “theory of mind”
62-64
and executive function
60
are not
specific to autism, although they may be more severe in children and young people with ASD.
The degree of impairment is also influenced by levels of speech and language, communication
and verbal mental age.
Insights from these assessments may promote understanding by care-givers, therapists, education
and social work staff in optimally supporting the child and young person with ASD to reach
their potential.
3
3
2+3
“Theory of mind” is not a diagnostic marker for autism but relates to communication and linguistic
development. It may be of value as part of an assessment to inform intervention. Verbal mental
age should be taken into account to avoid over interpreting deficits in “theory of mind”.
D  Children and young people with ASD should be considered for assessment of intellectual,
neuropsychological and adaptive functioning.
There was insufficient evidence to make recommendations about occupational therapy or
physiotherapy assessments.
  Occupational therapy and physiotherapy assessments should be considered where
relevant.
3.4 BIOMEDICAL INvESTIGATIONS
There is a range of potential biomedical investigations that may be appropriate for a child or
young person with suspected ASD. These are carried out to aid diagnosis through establishing
aetiology, to exclude treatable conditions, to identify comorbid conditions and to establish
baseline information prior to starting treatment. The evidence does not support the use of
routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain imaging.
7-73
Whilst epilepsy is common in
children with ASD,
74
there is no indication for an electroencephalogram (EEG) in the absence
of other clinical criteria.
75
A fifth to a third of pre-school children with ASD have a history of regression in acquired
language skills during their second year of life. A total loss of acquired language skills is
associated with a high probability of autistic conditions when this occurs in children under
the age of three.
76
When children undergo language regression over the age of three, they are
more likely to experience seizures and the differential diagnosis should include consideration
of an acquired epileptic dysphasia/Landau Kleffner dysphasia.
76
Other conditions such as Rett
disorder may appear superficially similar to ASD77
and other neurodegenerative conditions such
as mitochondriopathies may need to be considered and investigated.
78
Around 10% of children with ASD have an identifiable cause
65
such as tuberous sclerosis and
genetic investigations may be helpful.
66-69
Clinical examination for dysmorphic features and
the presence of a learning disability may aid in the decision to investigate further.
66,70
For
these reasons, medical paediatric history and examination may indicate that further biomedical
investigations are warranted.
70
D  where clinically relevant, the need for the following should be reviewed for all children
and young people with ASD:
examination of physical status, with particular attention to neurological and
dysmorphic features
karyotyping and Fragile X DNA analysis
examination of audiological status
investigations to rule out recognised aetiologies of ASD (eg tuberous sclerosis, see
annex 3).
There is considerable interest in the role of the immune system and the influence of bowel
function in children and young people with ASD. An extensive search was carried out for
research in this area, using the terms listed in annex 3. In addition a variety of additional
investigations for children and young people diagnosed with ASD were considered (included
within the list of investigations given in annex 3). The guideline development group found no
research evidence of an acceptable level in support of the clinical use of these investigations,
and it is not possible at present to make a recommendation.




3
3
3  RECOGNITION, ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSIS4
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
2+
2+
2+
2-
2+
2+
3.5 CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED wITH ASD
Children with ASD can experience the full range of developmental, medical and mental
health problems that are experienced by children who do not have ASD. It is as crucial to their
development as to any other child’s that all comorbid conditions are appropriately assessed and
managed.  Clinicians should not assume that any problems are inevitable aspects of an ASD,
as many comorbid conditions benefit from careful assessment and management.
Equally, children with ASD that has not been recognised may initially present to clinical services
with a separate problem, eg epilepsy, a sleep disorder, or school refusal.
79
A case control study found no evidence that children with autism were more likely than
children without autism to have had defined gastrointestinal disorders at any time before their
diagnosis.
80
Parent-reported gastrointestinal symptoms, in particular frequent vomiting and
constipation, were more common post-diagnosis in one study. Parents also reported higher
rates of food selectivity.
8
Children and young people with ASD have higher rates of epilepsy
65, 82-84
visual impairment
65, 84
and hearing impairment.
84, 85
As these associations have been described in the main in children
and young people with learning disabilities, the extent of the specific association across the
ASD spectrum is uncertain.
There are some clinical conditions which seem to occur more frequently in children and young
people with ASD, regardless of intellectual ability. Children with ASD experience higher rates
of mental ill health and behaviour problems.
86, 87
In particular, there is evidence that anxiety and
depression
88-92
and  attention deficit and hyperkinetic disorders (ADHD)
93, 94
are more common.
Parent-reported sleep problems are more frequent in children and young people with ASD.
95-98
There is also evidence that neuromotor problems, such as clumsiness
99
and tics
94,00
are
commonly experienced by children and young people with ASD.
Children and young people with ASD display the same attachment behaviours as children
who do not have ASD. However, children and young people with ASD are more likely to be
insecurely attached, affecting their responsiveness in contact with care-givers.
0
  Healthcare professionals should recognise that children and young people with ASD may
also have medical problems or emotional difficulties/disorders and should have access
to the same range of therapeutic interventions as any other child.
C  Healthcare professionals should be aware of the need to routinely check for comorbid
problems in children and young people with ASD.  where necessary, detailed assessment
should be carried out to accurately identify and manage comorbid problems.
3.6 pROGNOSTIC INDICATORS IN CHILDHOOD
Only the evidence for prognostic indicators in childhood was reviewed.
In one small study, early joint attention and imitation skills were found to be predictive of
pre-school language levels.
02
High IQ and language skills at an early age were also found
to predict better eventual outcome in communication and social competence domains,
03-07
although social impairments and repetitive behaviours
03
may persist.
Improvements in adaptive behaviour and decline in atypical features have been reported for
adolescents with ASD and a high IQ, with poorer outcomes evident in social impairment and
social skills for young people with learning disability.
08, 09
Around a quarter of young children with ASD are reported to have had regression of skills.
Early language regression before three years of age, in children referred for paediatric neurology
assessment,
76
or those referred for ASD assessment
0
has a high probability of being associated
with an ASD diagnosis.  The majority of children with ASD who are reported to regress have not
had normal skills prior to the loss, and most are reported to subsequently regain the lost skills.

Regression does not appear to be associated with worse prognosis during pre-school years.
4,0
There have been no adequate studies of later childhood or adolescent onset regression and it
is not clear whether the phenomena are clinically the same.
2+
2+
35
4 principles of intervention
Following a diagnosis of ASD, children and young people, parents and carers, and professionals
want effective interventions to be available and need information to help make decisions about
what form these could take.
There are many different interventions and treatments for ASD in everyday use, some of which
are not evidence based.
2
In 200, the Medical Research Council (MRC) review of autism research stressed the need for
scientifically robust evaluations of interventions and treatments (see annex 3), with a particularly
urgent need to evaluate biomedical interventions.
3
If interventions and treatments are not supported by systematic reviews or RCTs (level  evidence)
they may not appear in the guideline. The interventions that were included in the literature
searches completed for this guideline are listed in annex 3.
Following a baseline assessment, the potential balance of risks and benefits from any treatment
or intervention needs to be considered for each individual child, and discussed as appropriate
with them and their parents/carers, so that they can make an informed decision. Children and
young people, their parents/carers and clinicians, should, as far as possible, plan how they
intend to evaluate the benefits from any intervention. This will help them to make a decision
about whether or not to continue after any trial period.
All children and young people are entitled to benefit from their education and have positive
wider life experiences. ASD symptoms can constitute a significant barrier and psychoeducational
interventions for ASD are employed in this context. Parents, educationalists, health professionals,
social workers and the voluntary sector may employ pragmatic, eclectic, individualised
interventions to optimise a child’s functioning, by promoting development of skills, or adapting
the environment to compensate when skills are not present.
3
Many of these approaches are
based on theoretical principles germane to ASD. Some are derived from generic considerations
such as visual support to communication, or behavioural approaches to reduce challenging
behaviour. Others are derived from more autism specific considerations such as the difficulty in
‘mentalising’ experienced in ASD, whereby the individual experiences difficulties understanding
the motivations and perspectives of others.
00
Where appropriate, the guideline comments
on these interventions as good practice points, recognising that many are in use in everyday
practice in the UK and have widespread practitioner support.
4  pRINCIpLES OF INTERvENTION6
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++
+
3
3
++
+
5 Non-pharmacological interventions
5.1 pARENT MEDIATED INTERvENTIONS
Parent mediated intervention programmes are used to both advance the development and
communication of an affected child and to offer practical advice and support to parents (see
section 7.2.2 for further details).
4-7
A Cochrane review of parent mediated early intervention for young children (aged -6 years)
with ASD was only able to identify a few small studies, which could not be directly compared.
This review concluded that there are insufficient reliable studies from which to draw general
conclusions.
8
A pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) described an increase in reciprocal social interaction
in young children but no effect on adaptive behaviour, when parent training was added to
standard care.
9
A non-randomised controlled trial of a training course for parents of pre-school children with
ASD using the Hannen more than words programme showed benefit in vocabulary development
and parents’ use of facilitative strategies.
20
  Parent mediated intervention programmes should be considered for children and young
people of all ages who are affected by ASD, as they may help families interact with their
child, promote development and increase parental satisfaction, empowerment and mental
health.
5.2 COMMUNICATION INTERvENTIONS
5.2.1 SUPPORT FOR EARLY COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Many children and young people with autism have little or no speech. Those who do have
speech have difficulties in using language effectively (pragmatic language impairment). The
manner in which this is manifest is influenced by the child’s acquisition of language.  Many of
the strategies implemented to support communication are designed and managed by speech
and language therapists, working in combination with a wide range of professionals and in
partnership with parents.  Parent led interventions incorporate features such as working on joint
attention and communicative intent (see section 5.1). Alternative/augmentative communication
is employed in day to day educational support.
3
Interventions which offer visual support to communication found increases in spontaneous
imitation and social communicative behaviour suggesting a focus for future research.
2, 22
The
evidence for interventions supporting communication was heterogeneous with a small number
of studies looking at different aspects, eg intelligibility,
23
reading and writing as a visual support
to communication.
22, 24
An RCT showed that clinician mediated early intervention supported the development of joint
attention and symbolic play.
25
A randomised comparison of two interventions for pre-school children with ASD provided
preliminary evidence that the effects seen on initiating joint attention depended on the child’s
existing level of ability.
26
D  Interventions to support communication in ASD are indicated, such as the use of visual
augmentation, eg in the form of pictures of objects.
  Interventions to support communication in children and young people with ASD should
be informed by effective assessment.7
5.2.2 INTERVENTIONS FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATION AND INTERACTION
A number of studies were identified that assessed the efficacy of interventions to directly support
social communication and interaction, eg visual timetabling, operationalising through short
stories or the use of speech bubbles or cartoons. The number of participants in each study was
very small and the study populations were heterogeneous, making it difficult to generalise from
their findings.
27-36
Although it is difficult to synthesise the evidence as it relates to many different facets, the
interventions are linked to theories about underlying core deficits in ASD.  They fall into a
number of areas, eg offering additional support to verbal social initiations, eg tactile prompting,
or visual reinforcement, to help children with autism acquire an alternative to a theory of mind.
Studies also looked at peer training, to support the social interaction and communication of
the child with ASD and “buddy” programmes that aim to elicit more appropriate social skills
in students with autism, in comparison to a passive proximity approach.
The evidence does not clarify which of these approaches is the most effective but many of them
are currently in everyday educational use for children with ASD.
D Interventions to support social communication should be considered for children and
young people with ASD, with the most appropriate intervention being assessed on an
individual basis.
  Adapting the communicative, social and physical environments of children and young
people with ASD may be of benefit (options include providing visual prompts, reducing
requirements for complex social interactions, using routine, timetabling and prompting
and minimising sensory irritations).
5.3 BEHAvIOURAL/pSyCHOLOGICAL INTERvENTIONS
Behavioural and other psychological interventions for ASD may be divided into three main
groups:
intensive behavioural programmes aimed at improving overall functioning and altering
outcome
interventions which aim to address specific behavioural difficulties associated with ASD,
such as sleep disturbance, or to increase positive behaviours such as initiating social contact
with peers
a range of other behavioural/psychological interventions which do not fall readily into the
other two groups (see section 5.5).
5.3.1 INTENSIVE BEHAVIOURAL PROGRAMMES
Most intensive behavioural programmes for ASD are based on the principles of behaviour
modification using applied behavioural analysis (ABA). These programmes are intensive,
usually involving 20 to 40 hours of intervention per week. Their focus is primarily on early
intervention with pre-school children, and they are often parent mediated, with support from
helpers and professional consultants. The best known of the intensive ABA interventions is the
Lovaas programme.
37, 38



-
3
5  NON-pHARMACOLOGICAL INTERvENTIONS8
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++
++
2++
++
The Lovaas programme was the only intensive behavioural intervention examined by a systematic
review.
39
The review confined itself to the question of whether this intensive behavioural
intervention for pre-school children with ASD could achieve normalisation (interpreted as the
capacity to follow a normal academic curriculum in a mainstream school). All studies included
in this review were marked by considerable methodological flaws and there was also a concern
that many had enrolled high functioning children with autism, making it difficult to generalise
from the conclusions. The review concluded that a causal relationship cannot be established
between a particular programme of intensive behavioural intervention and the achievement of
‘normal functioning’.
A    The Lovaas programme should not be presented as an intervention that will lead to
normal functioning.
A comprehensive literature search, based on the terms in annex 3 did not find any good quality
evidence for other intensive behavioural interventions.
5.3.2 INTERVENTIONS FOR SPECIFIC BEHAVIOURS
The possibility that specific skills deficits or sensory problems are contributing to particular
behaviour patterns should be investigated prior to initiating any interventions.
One systematic review examined 25 studies of focal treatments for children and young people
with ASD. Although the studies varied considerably in their quality, the review concluded that
focal behavioural interventions consistently result in positive behavioural outcomes across a
wide range of target areas.
40
These include aberrant behaviours (eg self-injury, aggression),
language skills, daily living skills, community living skills (eg public transportation and shopping
skills), academic skills and social skills.
B  Behavioural interventions should be considered to address a wide range of specific
behaviours in children and young people with ASD, both to reduce symptom frequency
and severity and to increase the development of adaptive skills.
  Healthcare professionals should be aware that some aberrant behaviours may be due
to an underlying lack of skills and also may represent a child’s strategy for coping with
their individual difficulties and circumstances.
5.3.3 AUDITORY INTEGRATION TRAINING
Auditory integration training (AIT) is offered to children with ASD on the premise that they
experience “discomfort” when listening to certain sound frequencies.  In AIT the subject listens
to modulated music tapes through headphones for specified time periods.  Two systematic
reviews of the intervention were identified.
4, 42
Two thirds of the studies showed no benefit.
An RCT showed no benefit conferred by AIT compared to listening to unmodulated music.
43
A Auditory integration training is not recommended.
5.3.4 MUSIC THERAPIES
Two well conducted systematic reviews were identified.
44,45
Due to the methodological
limitations of the studies included in the systematic reviews, the limited number of studies and
the lack of clinically relevant outcomes, there is insufficient evidence to make a recommendation
about the use of music therapy in ASD.
5.3.5 SLEEP PROBLEMS
By the age of one year most children are able to sleep through the night. If after this time a
child is regularly unable to sleep, or has a period of good sleep which is disrupted, then this
constitutes a sleep disorder. Sleep disturbance is reported to be a common problem for children
and young people with ASD. The benefits of therapy to improve sleep problems have only been
assessed in a small study of children with autism and fragile X syndrome, where it was shown
to have a benefit.
46
  Behavioural therapy should be considered for children and young people with autism
who experience sleep disturbance.9
++
++
+
5.3.6 OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
The available studies were insufficient to support an evidence based recommendation about
occupational therapy for ASD, including the use of particular interventions such as sensory
integration.
  Children and young people affected by ASD may benefit from occupational therapy for
generic indications, such as providing advice and support in adapting environments,
activities and routines in daily life.
5.3.7 FACILITATED COMMUNICATION
Facilitated communication is defined by the American Psychological Society as “a process by
which a facilitator supports the hand or arm of a communicatively impaired individual while
using a keyboard or typing device.”
Two systematic reviews of facilitated communication conclude that there is no evidence to
validate claims that the person with autism is being helped to communicate, although there is
extensive evidence of communications that are generated by the ‘facilitator’.
47, 48
Given the
ethical implications of these findings in relation to the integrity and dignity of children and
young people with autism, the American Psychological Association has passed a resolution
against the use of facilitated communication for people with ASD on ethical grounds.
49
A  Facilitated communication should not be used as a means to communicate with children
and young people with ASD.
5.4 BIOMEDICAL AND NUTRITIONAL INTERvENTIONS
Research into biomedical interventions, including diets and nutritional supplements, has been
identified as a key priority for members of the National Autistic Society.
50
The list of potential
biomedical interventions searched for in this guideline in given in annex 3.
A well conducted Cochrane systematic review was unable to identify an evidence base for or
against casein and gluten exclusion diets.
5
Results of a subsequent, preliminary double blind
clinical trial suggest that exclusion diets appear to have no significant benefits for children with
ASD, although the authors acknowledge limitations.
52
There is insufficient evidence on the use
of casein and gluten exclusion diets for children and young people with ASD and therefore no
recommendation can be made.
As with all children and young people, nutritional interventions may be required for children
and young people with ASD who also have significant food selectivity and dysfunctional feeding
behaviour (see section 8.4.3 for details of how to contact the British Dietetic Association).
A Cochrane systematic review of combined vitamin B6 and magnesium treatment for children
and young people with ASD found insufficiently robust studies to meet the criteria set for the
review and therefore no recommendation can be made.
53
  Gastrointestinal symptoms in children and young people with ASD should be managed
in the same way as in children and young people without ASD.
  Advice on diet and food intake should be sought for children and young people with
ASD who display significant food selectivity and dysfunctional feeding behaviour, or
who are on restricted diets that may be adversely impacting on growth, or producing
physical symptoms of recognised nutritional deficiencies or intolerances.
5.5 INTERvENTIONS FOR SpECIFIC GROUpS OF CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE
There was little evidence to inform the question of whether or not any specific dietary/nonpharmaceutical interventions are more appropriate for children with specific forms of ASD, or
particular types of comorbidity.
++
5  NON-pHARMACOLOGICAL INTERvENTIONS20
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
++
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) has been shown to be feasible in children with ASD who
have a verbal IQ of at least 69.
54
However, this systematic review was unable to draw reliable
conclusions about the effectiveness, or potential harm, of CBT in this group.
  Professionals should be aware that some interventions require a level of verbal and
cognitive development which precludes their employment with some groups of children
and young people with ASD.2
6 pharmacological interventions
6.1 GENERAL pRINCIpLES
Any pharmacological treatment considered for children and young people with ASD should not
be viewed in isolation but seen as a possible component of a multistranded package of care.
There are no controlled long term studies demonstrating that pharmacological interventions
affect the core difficulties or outcomes in children and young people with ASD. There is no
evidence directly comparing pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches.
Pharmacological treatment may be considered when appropriate, for treatment of comorbid
psychiatric or neurodevelopmental conditions in ASD. Pharmacological treatment may also
be considered as a short to medium term intervention for specific severe symptoms occurring
in children and young people with ASD. Treatment for other comorbid medical conditions,
eg epilepsy, which may be required for children and young people with ASD, is not further
discussed in this guideline (see SIGN guideline 8 diagnosis and management of epilepsies in
children and young people).
55
Only medications available in the UK are discussed. No pharmacological treatments have ASD
as a licensing indication, and there are few drugs specifically licensed for use in children and
adolescents.
An assessment of the need for pharmacological intervention should include an appraisal of the
child’s environment (school and home) and daily routines (eg sleep, daily activities, meals etc).
Changes in these areas may be worth attempting before using medication, and are likely to
complement the effects of medication, if it is appropriate for this to be prescribed. It is possible
that treatment of comorbid difficulties with medication may enhance the ability of children and
young people to benefit from other approaches. There have as yet been no systematic studies
of combining other interventions and medication.
6.1.1 FRAMEWORK FOR USE OF MEDICATION
The potential balance of risks and benefits from any pharmacological treatment needs to be
considered for each individual child, and discussed as appropriate with them and their parents/
carers, so that they can make an informed decision.
If a trial of pharmacological treatment is agreed, there should be careful pre-treatment assessment
of the child’s overall symptoms and functioning, and definition of the ‘target symptoms’, ie
those expected to respond to the drug, as far as possible. There should be agreement about
how symptoms and any emergent side effects of treatment will be measured, as well as the
monitoring arrangements and expected duration of any trial of medication. Children and young
people, their parents/carers and clinicians, should, as far as possible, plan how they intend to
make a decision about whether or not to continue with medication, after any trial period.
  Pharmacological treatment of children with ASD should only be undertaken by doctors
with appropriate training and access to pharmacy or other support as required.
6  pHARMACOLOGICAL INTERvENTIONS22
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
6.2 RISpERIDONE
Risperidone in low doses (up to 2 mg daily in children weighing up to 45 kg and up to 3.5 mg
daily in those weighing over 45kg)
56
may be helpful in reducing severe irritability and aggression
in children or young people who have autistic disorder and significant aggression, tantrums
or self injury. Effects persisted at six months, but not after medication was discontinued.
57
Scores on repetitive/stereotyped behaviours were reduced but there was no effect on core
social deficits.
58
Similar findings were reported in a separate though less robust trial.
59
In both
these trials the majority of patients had learning disability.  Adverse effects (most commonly
tiredness/sedation early in treatment and increased appetite and weight gain) occurred more
often with risperidone.
59, 60
A small blinded discontinuation trial in a group with ASD where
two thirds were of normal intellectual ability indicated a possible effect of risperidone on severe
aggression, tantrums and self injurious behaviour.
6
Weight gain may be a significant problem at daily doses of 2 mg and lower.
56, 62, 63
There is
no evidence that any specific variables predict weight gain.
64
Liver function tests do not appear to be significantly affected by up to 12 months treatment
with risperidone.
63-65
In young children (under 0 years) with ASD, raised prolactin levels without obvious clinical
effects, have been associated with short term (three months) risperidone treatment.
66-68
Levels
fell by 24 weeks in the only study where measurement was repeated.
66
No data are available
for older children or adolescents. The implications of raised prolactin levels are unknown.
B     Risperidone is useful for short term treatment of significant aggression, tantrums
or self injury in children with autism
weight should be monitored regularly in children and young people who are taking
risperidone.
  Doctors should inform young people and parents that prolactin levels may rise in
association with risperidone treatment and that the implications of this are unknown.
6.3 METHyLpHENIDATE
There is evidence that methylphenidate reduces hyperactivity in children up to 4 years with
ASD and comorbid ADHD (with a mean IQ in the learning disability range).
60
This finding is
supported by clinical experience/expert opinion about the use of stimulant medication in children
with ASD and attentional/hyperactivity problems (see SIGN guideline 52 on attention deficit
and hyperkinetic disorders in children and young people).
7
Adverse effects (difficulty falling
asleep, appetite decrease, irritability and emotional outbursts) were more common in children
receiving methylphenidate compared to those on placebo.
60
In one study from a specialist
paediatric clinic, response to methylphenidate and level of side effects were not significantly
different in children with ADHD and ASD compared with children with ADHD alone.
69
The
use of a test dose is worthwhile to assess whether methylphenidate will be tolerated.
60, 70
There is no evidence about the use of other stimulant medication for these problems in children
and young people with ASD. If methylphenidate is not tolerated use of other medication could
be considered with reference to SIGN guideline 52 on attention deficit and hyperkinetic disorders
in children and young people.
7
B Methylphenidate may be considered for treatment of attention difficulties/hyperactivity
in children or young people with ASD.
     Use of a test dose to assess if methylphenidate is tolerated could be considered in
children prior to any longer trial.
   Side effects should be carefully monitored (see SIGN guideline 52 on attention deficit
and hyperkinetic disorders in children and young people).
7

+
+
423
+
3
+
++
3
+
3
6.4 FLUOXETINE
A single RCT indicated statistically significant but small clinical benefit from fluoxetine on repetitive
behaviours in children and young people with ASD. Side effects were similar to placebo.
72
A case series of young children with ASD treated with fluoxetine found parent reported
response correlated with associated features including parent reported family history of affective
disorder.
73
There is insufficient evidence to make a recommendation about the use of fluoxetine.
6.5 NALTREXONE
All studies related to children less than eight years of age and naltrexone did not improve
symptoms of ASD.
74-77
6.6 SECRETIN
Secretin (human or porcine) as a single dose, or in multiple doses, for up to six months does
not improve ASD symptoms, and no subgroup of children who benefit has been consistently
identified.
78-87
A Secretin is not recommended for use in children and young people with ASD.
6.7 MELATONIN
Melatonin is not licensed as a medication in the UK, although it is in clinical use to treat sleep
problems in children and young people with ASD or other developmental difficulties.
In typically developing children there is some evidence that melatonin improves sleep difficulties
which have persisted after behavioural treatment.
88-90
For developmentally disabled children (only a very few of whom had ASD), there is evidence
that melatonin is tolerated but it is not clear if it is of any benefit.
9, 92
One small RCT including limited diagnostic and clinical information suggested that melatonin
improves sleep in children with autism.
93
An uncontrolled study indicated melatonin was tolerated in children and young people with
Asperger’s syndrome.
94
D Melatonin may be considered for treatment of sleep problems which have persisted
despite behavioural interventions.
  Obtain an adequate baseline sleep diary before any trial of melatonin.
Continue sleep hygiene measures (bedtime and wake up routine, avoidance of day
time sleep) and a sleep diary, during any medication trial.
Ensure patient and family are fully informed that melatonin is not a licensed
medication, which limits the information that is available about effectiveness and
safety.
6.8 OTHER TREATMENTS
There is insufficient good quality evidence to make recommendations on the use of the following
drugs, amantadine, (a single small RCT indicated possible benefit on investigator, but not parent
rated, measure of hyperactivity
95
), cyproheptadine as an adjunct to haloperidol (high risk of
side effects)
96
or divalproex sodium.
97, 98
For the following drugs single RCT evidence does not indicate benefit: clomipramine (high rate
of side effects),
99
lamotrigine (in children under ),
200
vancomycin (outcome measured two to
eight months after course of treatment in children with regressive autism).
20
Observational studies only have been completed for aripiprazole, citalopram, fluvoxamine,
guanfacine, olanzapine, quetiapine, sertraline or venlafaxine.


6  pHARMACOLOGICAL INTERvENTIONS24
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Sertraline is licensed for treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and
adolescents, and its use may be relevant in children or young people with ASD who have
comorbid OCD. The diagnosis may be difficult as compulsive behaviours are common in
ASD. Some children do have evidence of more typical OCD features with repetitive thoughts
or behaviours which appear to them as senseless and are, at least to some extent, resisted. The
possibility of benefit at a low dose of sertraline and worsening at a higher dose was indicated
in a single very small descriptive study of anxiety symptoms in children with ASD.
20225
4
4
7 Service provision
7.1 ASD TRAINING
Despite the increasing awareness of, and interest in, the nature of ASD, there are considerable
gaps in training for professionals working with children and young people with ASD. This
results in a lack of knowledge, skills and expertise across all general and specialist professional
groups.
203-209
The small body of evidence on training in ASD points to improvement in attitudes of mainstream
teachers towards the inclusion of children with ASD in their classes,
203, 208, 20
increased levels of
confidence of parents in relation to service provision

and in benefits in knowledge for medical
staff from evidence based educational intervention.
2
The PHIS Autistic Spectrum Disorders Needs Assessment Report viewed improved training
as vital to many of its proposals, and recommended that there should be a review of training
provision in Scotland.

Consequently, an extensive audit of existing training and training needs
was undertaken, leading to the publication of the National Training Framework for Autistic
Spectrum Disorders.
9
The framework highlighted major gaps in training at every level and across every sector. For most
practitioners there was no pre-service training and the majority of training that was undertaken
was introductory only, even for those whose work was mainly in the ASD field. Subsequent
work resulted in the creation of a web-based learning resource for primary care practitioners
http://www.nes.scot.nhs.uk/asd
D All professions and service providers working in the ASD field should review their
training arrangements to ensure staff have up-to-date knowledge and adequate skill
levels.
7.2 TRAINING AND SUppORT FOR pARENTS
7.2.  INFORMATION PROVISION
A limited amount of evidence was identified where either outcomes were not described in
terms of parent satisfaction,
22
there was no information on the diagnostic tool used to define
the children,
23
or the number of participants in the study was not clear.
24
The principles that
emerged were that parents felt more satisfied if at the time of disclosure they were given good
quality written information, with an opportunity to ask questions
23
and that parents value a
multidisciplinary diagnostic assessment.
24
D     Professionals should offer parents good quality written information and an
opportunity to ask questions when disclosing information about their child with
ASD
    parents should be provided with information in an accessible and absorbable form.
  The information provided should relate to the child or young person’s particular ASD
presentation.
7  SERvICE pROvISION26
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
4
+
4
7.2.2 MEETING SUPPORT NEEDS
Families with children with autism often experience high stress levels as a consequence of
their care giving responsibilities, the child’s cognitive impairment and the need for long term
support.
25-28

Education and skills interventions have been shown to lead to significant improvements in the
self reported mental health of parents of pre-school children.
6
B Education and skills interventions for parents of pre-school children with ASD should
be offered.
  Education and skills interventions should be offered to parents of all children and young
people diagnosed with ASD.
Informal social supports are important to absorb family stress.
29, 220
It is important to consider
the needs of siblings of children and young people with ASD. Supporting parents through
provision of training in communication with their children
25
is discussed in section 5..
  Professionals should assess the family context and informal support systems that are
available and consider supplementing these as appropriate.
7.2.3 SUPPORT DURING TRANSITION
Transitions, at all stages from pre-school to adulthood, are recognised as posing challenges for
children and young people with ASD. However, available evidence is very limited. A single
study was identified in which telephone interviews with parents were used to capture their
perceptions of transition and the support needed.
22
Parents reported that increased social work
contact with families during periods of transition was valued.
Professionals should be aware that difficulties with transition may arise because the high level of
support being provided prior to a transition was unrecognised. Reassessing support needs and
planning ahead prior to a transition may allow appropriate new support to be put in place.
Although individual support needs will vary, some basic aspects may be generally applicable.
For example, a survey of supervisors of adults with ASD employed within a supported work
environment, indicated the support strategies used were based on principles largely applicable
to all young people, including clear guidance, mentoring and regular reviews.
222
In the Scottish legal context, ‘parental responsibility’ ends when a young person reaches the
age of 6. If parents wish to continue to be involved in decisions about their child’s medical
treatment, ie to be in a position to give consent or take decisions on behalf of their children
beyond age 6, they can do so only by acquiring the relevant authority under the Adults with
Incapacity legislation.
 Families and services should plan ahead to reduce the impact of transitions.
  Social work contact with families should be instituted or extended during periods of
transition.
  Families should be advised of relevant legislation under the Adults with Incapacity Act
(Scotland).
7.3 TIMING OF INTERvENTIONS
No evidence to guide service provision was identified regarding the optimum timing of
interventions. No robust evidence was found to support the benefits of early intervention or
to suggest that late intervention may not be worthwhile. Some types of intervention are more
appropriate at different developmental stages (see sections 5 and 6).
  Interventions should commence as soon as possible after concerns are identified.27
7.4 MODELS OF SERvICE pROvISION
No evidence was identified to indicate whether a particular model of service provision was more
effective in improving outcomes for children and young people with ASD. There appears to be
a consensus in the literature that the involvement of a range of professionals is important and
that the competencies of those professionals are more important than their professions as such.
There appears to be agreement on the need for multiagency involvement. This is particularly
relevant given the situation with regard to legal responsibilities, where for example, additional
support for learning (ASL) provision is an educational responsibility and disability assessment
is the responsibility of social services.
There is a danger that a piecemeal approach is taken to the delivery of services to individuals
over the course of their lifetime. As a result, particularly in regard to periods of transition, there
should be multiagency life long planning.
In response to the PHIS assessment report,

the Scottish Executive has published an
implementation report
223
which includes a quality diagnostic service standard for children
and adults with autistic spectrum disorders. This is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/
Publications/2006/02/2809466/
7  SERvICE pROvISION28
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
8 Information for discussion with children, young
people, parents and carers
This section reflects the issues likely to be of most concern to children, young people and their
parents and carers. These points are provided for use by health professionals when discussing
ASD with children, young people and their parents and carers and in guiding the production
of locally produced information materials.
8.1 pROvIDING INFORMATION AND SUppORT
Provision of information should always be viewed as a two way process. The concerns and
questions which children, young people and their parents/carers wish to raise should be identified
during assessment, and be responded to as far as possible. There is evidence to suggest that
parents are more satisfied if they are given good quality information and have the opportunity
to ask questions.
23, 224
8..  AT THE TIME OF DIAGNOSIS
Information on the diagnostic process and the roles of children, young people and parents should
be explained along with information on the roles of the various professions involved. Parents
need to have their early concerns acknowledged and to receive support in the management of
their child.
23, 225-227
It is essential that parents of children diagnosed with ASD, and children and young people
themselves, receive clear, accurate and appropriate written and verbal information about the
condition including short and long term consequences. The information should be appropriate
to the child’s age, ability level and cultural background and should be provided at a pace that
suits the circumstances.
Where feasible and appropriate childcare should be made available for a short time during
disclosure of the diagnosis. This would allow parents to focus fully on the information being
given and allow for questions.
Consideration should be given to how the diagnosis should be shared. This may require seeing
children, young people and parents separately, sequentially or simultaneously. For young people
their own engagement and understanding of the diagnosis will be important in negotiating
appropriate supports.
It is recognised that this is a particularly stressful period for children, young people and
their parents and links forged with local professionals at this time can be helpful following
diagnosis.
Surveys of parents reported the importance placed on the quality of the communication skills
of the professionals disclosing the diagnosis.
23, 225-227
A negative experience could affect parental
satisfaction and cause added stress. Healthcare professionals should be aware that the absence
of clearly defined terminology and uncertainty of diagnosis is difficult for parents. This can
be challenging when young people have a mixture of difficulties. Where a diagnosis can be
clearly made the use of straightforward terminology in communication to parents is important.
When the diagnosis is uncertain (ie borderline according to current diagnostic criteria) then
healthcare professionals should explain this situation to parents. In all circumstances healthcare
professionals should work with the family to identify how services can meet the needs of the
child.
Children, young people and their parents should have the opportunity to ask questions following
the diagnosis. It has previously been recommended that follow-up arrangements should be
offered once there has been time to reflect on the implications of the diagnosis.

Professionals should recognise that children, young people and their parents may have a
significant adjustment reaction to the diagnosis and for some this adjustment period may be
prolonged and difficult.29
ASD affects all aspects of the child’s and the family’s life and the importance of social supports
and family networks were noted.
25, 29, 220, 226, 228
Families are required to take on multiple
roles when their child is diagnosed including at times, the roles of co-therapist, and advocate.
Supporting family involvement in these roles is crucial and will impact on the success of any
intervention.
A number of studies comment on the issue of encouraging families to participate in any decisions
related to their child and the importance of feeling that their opinions are valued.
23, 225-227
  Families require high quality verbal and written information at time of diagnosis. This
should include a written report of the outcome of the various assessments and the final
diagnosis.
The sample checklist in section 8.3 suggests the type of information required.
   Professionals involved in diagnostic disclosure and information giving should receive
ongoing education and training.
  Children, young people and their parents should routinely receive written information.
This may include copies of the letters sent to the various professionals who have been
asked to assess their child.
  Children, young people and their parents should be encouraged to continue to learn
about ASD and useful interventions and support.
8.2 FEEDBACK FROM FOCUS GROUpS
Young people with ASD may themselves make use of this guideline, and it was felt important
to obtain as much input from them as possible, in addition to the information provided via
parents and professionals, during the work of the guideline development group. Focus group
sessions involving an independent facilitator and young people were held in two centres, in
different regions of Scotland.
In keeping with the goal of ‘ASD friendly services’, the aim of the focus groups was to hear
how young people themselves understood or heard of their diagnoses, to explore what they
had found helpful and to ask for their ideas about information about ASD which should be
provided.
The young people who took part were a selected sample without learning disability, who
knew about their diagnoses of ASD, were of late primary or secondary school age, and were
attending specialist educational provision (relevant permission having been obtained). In one
centre four young people were seen individually by the independent facilitator, and in the other
eight young people met with the facilitator in two small groups. The young people were asked
about their diagnosis and how they had been told about it, what was better or worse for them
once they knew, what they found helped them, and what they thought others should be told
about ASD.
Young people referred to difficult experiences prior to diagnosis, and in their previous schools,
including bullying. Most young people wanted to be told the truth and spoke of things being
better once they knew what was wrong. The young people thought others should understand
and not make fun of them, and often said things were easier when they where in a school where
ASD was understood. They thought it was important to know that they were not ‘mad’ or ‘stupid’.
The kind of difficulties which they would want others to know about, or be told, included that
they needed space, got confused, might lose their patience, found it hard to concentrate, and
needed a quiet place to go. Some had read relevant books about ASD and found them helpful,
and there were also comments that it would be easier to speak to someone with ASD.
Young people able to contribute to these focus groups were obviously a selected sample but
their perspectives emphasise the importance of young people being involved in discussion
about diagnosis at some appropriate stage, and being able to contribute to the information
others receive about their individual difficulties.
8  INFORMATION FOR DISCUSSION wITH CHILDREN, yOUNG pEOpLE, pARENTS AND CARERS30
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Checklist for provision of services and information
Before assessment
Initial professional
concerned should:
(eg health visitor,
teacher, GP)
    explain to child/young person and parent/carer that a child/ young
person’s behaviour shows various ‘clinical clues’ that may suggest
the possibility of an autism spectrum disorder or a social interaction
or social communication difficulty (see Tables 1,2 and 3)
    discuss the advantages and disadvantages of further assessment with
the parent/carer (and young person, as appropriate) as they see it
and check that they have agreement to organise this
    healthcare professionals should enquire about any other information
which might represent evidence of comorbidity (eg ADHD,
depression) or an alternative diagnosis (eg specific language
impairment) as far as their expertise allows
Person making
referral for further
assessment should:
    include all relevant information regarding any concerns, the child/
young person’s current situation and details of any professionals
involved
    explain the patient/parent’s understanding of the reason for
referral
    consider providing patient/parent with a copy of the referral letter
    initiate general management/behaviour strategies and family support
in the interim, if necessary by involving multiagency colleagues
The specialist
team receiving the
referral should:
    ensure child/ young person and parents receive information about
the process which will follow referral, including likely timescale
of any pre-assessment and assessment phases, and who will be
involved
    if corresponding with professional colleagues to arrange assessments,
consider copying correspondence to families
    inform the parent/carer that they are welcome to bring a supporter
if they wish
    explain that, if any part of the assessment is to be video recorded,
the team will obtain written consent of the patient and/or carer (as
appropriate) to retain the recording
8.3 CHECKLIST FOR pROvISION OF SERvICES AND INFORMATION
This section explains what information parents/carers, and the child or young person as
appropriate, can reasonably expect to be provided at the key stages of the patient journey and
how assessment and intervention should usually be organised (see sections 3.2 to 3.6 for more
discussion of the evidence base).
The checklist was designed by members of the guideline development group based on their
clinical experience and their understanding of the evidence base.3
At assessment appointment(s)
Specialist team
should:
    check current understanding of child/ young person and parents/
carers, as appropriate, about the reasons for referral and their level
of agreement with the concerns of the referring professional
    explain proposed assessments and agree with child/young person
and parent/carer how these will be organised and which colleagues
will be involved
    repeat explanations and revise arrangements as needed
At any feedback appointment(s)
Specialist team
should:
    allow sufficient time for explanation and discussion of the findings
and be sensitive to the potential distress that may arise in the child/
young person and parent/carer and their possible needs to be seen
separately
    find out what child/young person and family understand about
diagnosis, and add information as appropriate (eg if a diagnosis of
ASD has been made, a member of the team should explain the triad
of impairments and how the referred patient’s presentation fits into
ICD-0/DSM-IV criteria)
    offer basic information based on current knowledge re causation,
intervention and prognosis, any investigations indicated, and the
probable next steps to provide appropriate  multiagency supportive
intervention, as appropriate
    provide information about what written feedback will be made
available, and check with the child/ young person and parent/
carer (as appropriate) how it should be made available to relevant
colleagues
    if any part of the assessment has been video recorded, obtain written
consent of the parent/carer and patient (as appropriate) to retain the
recording
    if the patient is considered unable to have the outcome of the
assessment explained to them at feedback, discuss with parent/carer
how this might be undertaken at a later date and the best timescale
    in cases of diagnostic uncertainty, discuss with the parent/carer how
and when to best review/repeat the assessment, or options for further
specialist assessment
8  INFORMATION FOR DISCUSSION wITH CHILDREN, yOUNG pEOpLE, pARENTS AND CARERS32
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Supportive intervention following diagnosis of ASD
Multiagency/
multiprofessionals
should:
(integrated and
collaborative and
in partnership
with the family)
    involve relevant multiagency colleagues (education, social work,
voluntary sector, careers advisors, as appropriate)
    tailor intervention to requirements of individual and family, working in
partnership
    provide further information as needed eg about  the triad of impairments
or any comorbidity
    consider implementing specific therapeutic interventions/approaches
including for any comorbidity
    discuss potential educational approaches with the parent/carer and
patient (as appropriate), including additional support for learning
    have in place arrangements for liaising/sharing required information
with education services
    discuss wider family/sibling support, provision of respite, and role of
social work assistance
    provide information about :
     entitlement to benefits
     potential voluntary/community supports
     available parent training opportunities
     recommended sources of further information
    organise for the family to have a named contact for ongoing assistance
(consider implementing National Autism Plan for Children’s
recommendation of a key worker).
233
8.4 SOURCES OF FURTHER INFORMATION
Useful sources of general information on autism spectrum disorders including contact details
for local parent support groups across Scotland.
8.4.1 SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS
The Scottish Society for Autism
Hilton House
Alloa Business Park
Whins Rd
Alloa
FK10 3SA
Tel: 0259 720044
Email: autism@autism-in-scotland.org.uk
Website: http://www.autism-in-scotland.org.uk
National Autistic Society –Scotland
Central Chambers
09 Hope St
Glasgow
G2 6LL
Tel: 04 22 8090
Email: autismhelpline@nas.org.uk
Website: http://www.autism.org.uk
NHS Education for Scotland
NES has developed, in conjunction with the University of Birmingham, a learning resource
about ASD for primary care professionals, including GPs. This includes a web resource and
downloadable leaflets, accessible from http://www.nes.scot.nhs.uk/asd
NES also has an information booklet for parents and carers of recently diagnosed children or young
people. Professionals living in Scotland who are involved in diagnosing ASD have been given
copies of this booklet to give to parents. Additional copies can be requested from the Scottish
Autism Service Network by calling 04 950 3072 or by emailing scottishautismnetwork@
strath.ac.uk
Scottish Autism Service Network
The Scottish Autism Service Network is a professional network for autism in Scotland. The
network will support networking and an information hub.
Tel: 04 950 3072
E-mail: scottishautismnetwork@strath.ac.uk
Website: http://www.scottishautismnetwork.org.uk/
8.4.2 ADDITIONAL READING
This reading list is not meant to be comprehensive and some books may endorse treatments
that are not recommended by the guideline.
The autistic spectrum. A guide for parents and professionals
L Wing. Constable. (996)
A mind apart. Understanding children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome
P Szatmari. Guilford Press. (2004)
Autistic spectrum disorders: Good practice guidance. Department of Education and Skills.
DfES Publications, Sudbury, Suffolk CO0 6ZQ
http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/sen/asds
Explaining the enigma
U Frith. Blackwell Publishing. (2003)
People with autism behaving badly. Helping people with ASD move on from behavioural and
emotional challenges. J Clements. Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2005)
8  INFORMATION FOR DISCUSSION wITH CHILDREN, yOUNG pEOpLE, pARENTS AND CARERS34
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
For parents of younger children
Autism: How to help your young child.
Leicestershire County Council and Fosse Health Trust (998)
Autism in the early years. A practical guide.
V Cumine, J Leach and G Stevenson. David Fulton Publishers (2000)
Sleep Better! A Guide to Improving Sleep for Children with Special Needs.
VM Durand. Jessica Kinsley Publishers (1998)
Toilet training for individuals with autism & related disorders. A comprehensive guide for
parents and teachers.
M Wheeler. Jessica Kingsley Publishers (1999)
Can’t eat, won’t eat; dietary difficulties and autistic spectrum disorders.
B Legge. Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2001)
Sensory perceptual issues in autism & Asperger syndrome.
O Bogdashina. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (2003)
Books for siblings
Everybody is different. A book for young people who have brothers and sisters with autism.
F Bleach. The National Autistic Society. (200)
Can I tell you about Asperger syndrome? J Welton. Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2003)
Personal accounts (autism)
George and Sam.
C Moore. Penguin Publishers (2004).
Through the eyes of aliens. A book about autistic people.
JL O’Neil. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (1999)
Emergence labeled autistic
T Grandin. Warner Books. Arena Press (986)
For parents of older children/adolescent age
Understanding and working with the spectrum of autism
W Lawson. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (2001)
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome.
T Atwood. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (2006)
Aperger syndrome. A practical guide for teachers.
V Cumine J Leach and G Stevenson. David Fulton Publishers (998)
Asperger syndrome and adolescence. Helping preteens and teens get ready for the real
world.
T Bolick. Fair Winds Press (2004)
A parent’s guide to Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism
Ozonoff, Dawson and McPartland. Guildford Press (2002)
Autism and Asperger Syndrome: Preparing for adulthood. Second edition
Patricia Howlin. Routledge (2004)35
Transitions
Transition toolkit. A framework for managing change and successful transition planning for
children and young people with ASD.
K Broderick & T Mason-Williams. BILD publications (2005)
Succeeding in college with Asperger syndrome. A student guide.
J Harpur. M Lawlor and M Fitzgerald. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (2004)
Personal accounts (Asperger’s syndrome)
Martian in the playground.
C Sainsbury. Lucky Duck Publishing. (2000)
Pretending to be normal
L Holliday-Willey. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (1999)
Eating an artichoke.
E Fling. Jessica Kingsley Publishing (2000)
Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome. A user guide to adolescence.
L Jackson, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (2002)
8.4.3 WEBSITES
British Dietetic Association
Provides a range of fact sheets in relation to diet including diet and autism spectrum
disorders.
http://www.bda.uk.com
Careers Scotland
Provides services, information and support to individuals at all ages and stages of planning a
career.
http://www.careers-scotland.org.uk
Enquire
The Scottish advice service for Additional Support for Learning.
http://www.enquire.org.uk
http://www.autism.org.uk
The NAS website is extensive, comprehensive and easy to use. Includes information on
parent training and support programmes, EarlyBird and Help!
http://www.asd-forum.org.uk
Asperger and ASD UK Online Forum. Well supported, well organised Internet support group
with email discussion and bulletin boards for sharing information.
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/lifeevent/discare
Information on benefits and disability living allowance.
Skill Scotland
An information and advice service for young people and adults with any kind of disability in
post-6 education training and employment.
http://www.skill.org.uk/scotland
HM Inspectorate for Education
Improving Scottish Education.  Education for Pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorders 2006
http://www.hmie.gov.uk/documents/publication/epasd.pdf
8  INFORMATION FOR DISCUSSION wITH CHILDREN, yOUNG pEOpLE, pARENTS AND CARERS36
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
9 Implementation, resource implications and audit
9.1 LOCAL IMpLEMENTATION
Implementation of national clinical guidelines is the responsibility of each NHS Board and is an
essential part of clinical governance. It is acknowledged that every Board cannot implement every
guideline immediately on publication, but mechanisms should be in place to ensure that the care
provided is reviewed against the guideline recommendations and the reasons for any differences
assessed and, where appropriate, addressed. These discussions should involve both clinical staff
and management. Local arrangements may then be made to implement the national guideline in
individual hospitals, units and practices, and to monitor compliance. This may be done by a variety
of means including patient-specific reminders, continuing education and training, and clinical
audit.
9.2 RESOURCE IMpLICATIONS
Group members identified the following recommendations which may have resource implications
for NHSScotland.
From section 3.2.3
C  ASD-specific history-taking instruments may be considered as a means of improving the
reliability of ASD diagnosis.
C  Healthcare professionals should consider using ASD-specific observational instruments,
as a means of improving the reliability of ASD diagnosis.
The use of such instruments requires training for staff. At present the availability of such training
courses is limited. Resources are required for trainers, attendance at courses and updates, training
materials and equipment for ADOS-G (kit cost £300, training pack £700).
From section 3.2.3
D  Health care professionals should directly observe and assess the child or young person’s
social and communication skills and behaviour.
From section 3.4
D  where clinically relevant, the need for the following should be reviewed for all children
and young people with ASD:
examination of physical status, with particular attention to neurological and dysmorphic
features
karyotyping and Fragile X DNA analysis
examination of audiological status
investigations to rule out recognised aetiologies of ASD (eg tuberous sclerosis, see
annex 3).
From section 3.5
C  Clinicians should be aware of the need to routinely check for comorbid problems in
children and young people with ASD.  where necessary, detailed assessment should be
carried out to accurately identify and manage comorbid problems.
Implementation of these recommendations is likely to require local services to look at the
organisation of child and adolescent services to ensure that relevant investigations and assessments
are undertaken for all children with ASD. In some areas this may lead to a requirement for additional
sessions of some staff groups, such as those providing cognitive assessment, to avoid an effect on
waiting times for patients with other conditions.



37
From section 3.3
D  All children and young people with ASD should have a comprehensive evaluation of
their speech and language and communication skills, which should in turn, inform
intervention.
D  Children and young people with ASD should be considered for assessment of intellectual,
neuropsychological and adaptive functioning.
From section 5.2
D  Interventions to support communication in ASD are indicated, such as the use of visual
augmentation, eg in the form of pictures of objects.
From section 5.2.2
D  Interventions to support social communication should be considered for children and
young people with ASD, with the most appropriate intervention being assessed on an
individual basis.
From section 5.3.2
B  Behavioural interventions should be considered to address a wide range of specific
behaviours in children and young people with ASD, both to reduce symptom frequency
and severity and to increase the development of adaptive skills.
These recommendations may require additional sessions from speech and language therapists
and clinical psychologists in some areas of Scotland. This may have a resultant effect on waiting
times for patients with other conditions.
From section 7.
D  All professions and service providers working in the ASD field should review their
training arrangements to ensure staff have up-to-date knowledge and adequate skill
levels.
Implementation of this recommendation is likely to require resources for trainers, attendance
at courses and updates and training materials and equipment.
9.3 KEy pOINTS FOR AUDIT
The following clinical indicators could be used to gauge the assessment and management of
children and young people with ASD:
referral routes for diagnosis of ASD, eg the number of children recommended for further
assessment following child health surveillance, the use of CHAT or M-CHAT to identify
clinical features indicative of an increased risk of ASD
diagnostic criteria, and procedures used for diagnosis of ASD, eg the number of professionals
using either ICD-0 or DSM-IV when making the diagnosis of ASD, the number of children
having all appropriate diagnostic measures done eg the availability of information about
children and young people’s functioning from sources outside the clinic setting
additional assessments of children and young people with diagnoses of ASD, eg the
proportion of children and young people with ASD who have a comprehensive evaluation
of their speech and language and communication skills, intellectual, neuropsychological
and adaptive functioning, physical or other assessments if relevant
treatment of sleep problems including baseline sleep diaries, use of behavioural therapy
pharmacological treatment provision and monitoring – access to pharmacy support, weight
monitoring if risperidone prescribed





9  IMpLEMENTATION, RESOURCE IMpLICATIONS AND AUDIT38
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
proportion of parents offered post-diagnosis training, proportion receiving social work
support, nature of preparation for transitions
information provision – type and timing of information provided for children, young people,
families and relevant professionals
training of staff – generic and ASD specific.
9.4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RESEARCH
Further research is required to address numerous areas where there is insufficient evidence to
make a recommendation or to support existing clinical practice. The following areas have been
identified as especially important:
Recognition, assessment and diagnosis
Psychiatric comorbidity in children and adolescents with ASD
Development/validation of ASD screening instruments that meet the rigorous criteria for a
robust population screening test
What is the minimum age at which ASD can be reliably diagnosed?
Improved evidence on the reliability and validity of the existing classification systems, ICD-
0 and DSM-IV
Which parallel assessment tools (eg speech and language, communication, neuropsychological)
to use and when
Research into the role of biomedical investigations in identifying the aetiology of ASD.
Non-pharmacological interventions
What is the efficacy of biomedical interventions, including diets and nutritional
supplements?
What is the efficacy of non-pharmacological interventions?
Are there any specific dietary/non-pharmaceutical interventions that are more appropriate
for children with specific forms of ASD, or particular types of comorbidity?
What is the optimal timing of interventions? Are there benefits from early intervention?
The role of occupational therapy and physiotherapy for children and young people with
ASD, in particular at assessment
The role of music therapy for children and young people with ASD
The role of environmental adaptation.
pharmacological interventions
Melatonin use
Further risperidone studies and systematic reviews/meta-analysis
Long term effectiveness of medication, including potential synergistic effects with other
interventions
More research is needed on the use of fluoextine and other selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors.
Service provision
Are particular models of service provision more effective in improving outcomes for children
and young people with ASD?
How are transitions, at all stages from pre-school to adulthood, best managed?
The role of multidisciplinary or multiagency teams
What comprises effective training in ASD for professionals?























39
10 Development of the guideline
10.1 INTRODUCTION
SIGN is a collaborative network of clinicians, other healthcare professionals and patient
organisations and is part of NHS Quality Improvement Scotland. SIGN guidelines are developed
by multidisciplinary groups of practising clinicians using a standard methodology based on a
systematic review of the evidence. Further details about SIGN and the guideline development
methodology are contained in “SIGN 50: A Guideline Developer’s Handbook”, available at
http://www.sign.ac.uk
10.2 THE GUIDELINE DEvELOpMENT GROUp
Dr Iain McClure*(Chair) Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Murray Royal
Hospital, Perth
Mrs Jennifer Beattie Principal Teacher in Special Needs, Kenmay Academy,
Aberdeenshire
Mrs Sheila Boyd Occupational Therapist, Scottish Centre for Autism, Glasgow
Ms Margo Cattanach Community Charge Nurse – Learning Disabilities, Larbert
Dr Sally Cheseldine Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Child and Adolescent
Mental Health Services, Edinburgh
Mr Paul Dickinson Clinical Psychologist, NHS Highland, Inverness
Mrs Penny Ellingham Social Worker, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh
Dr David Fitzpatrick Clinical Paediatric Geneticist, MRC Human Genetics Unit,
Edinburgh
Mrs Bette Francis Vulnerable Adults Unit, Scottish Executive Health
Department, Edinburgh
Dr Anne Gilchrist* Consultant Adolescent Psychiatrist, Royal Cornhill Hospital,
Aberdeen
Dr Rob Henderson Specialist Registrar in Public Health Medicine, Highland
NHS Board, Inverness
Mrs Alison Leask* Project Manager, NHS Education for Scotland and Chair,
Autism Argyll
Dr Tommy MacKay Consultant Psychologist, Psychology Consultancy Services,
Dunbartonshire
Ms Marjory Macleod  Senior Dietitian, Sighthill Health Centre, Edinburgh
Mrs Roslyn McCaughey Senior Speech and Language Therapist, Renton Primary
(Secretary) School, Renton
Dr John March Research Scientist, Moredun Research Institute, Penicuik
Dr Craig Melville* Senior Lecturer in Learning Disabilities Psychiatry,
University of Glasgow, Gartnavel Royal Hospital
Mrs Rona Membury Lay Representative, Inverness
Dr Elise Merry Consultant Paediatrician, Armitstead Child Development
Centre, Dundee
Professor Anne O’Hare* Consultant Paediatrician, Royal Hospital for Sick Children,
(Vice-chair) Edinburgh
Dr Safia Qureshi SIGN Programme Director
Ms Marion Rutherford  Speech and Language Therapist, Royal Hospital for Sick
Children, Edinburgh
Ms Chris Simmonds Health Visitor, Aberdeen
Dr Georgina Soulby Consultant Community Paediatrician – Children Services,
Raigmore Hospital, Inverness
10  DEvELOpMENT OF THE GUIDELINE40
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Ms Janis Toy Residential Services Manager, Daldorch House School,
East Ayrshire
Ms Diane Waugh Lay Representative, Sense Scotland, Glasgow
Ms Joanna Welsh SIGN Information Officer
*member of the writing group
10.2.1 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The guideline development group is grateful to the following former members of the guideline
development group and members of SIGN staff who have also contributed to the development
of this guideline.
Dr Jaqueline Atkinson Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Public Policy,
University of Glasgow
Mr Robin Harbour SIGN Quality and Information Director
Dr Roberta James SIGN Programme Manager
Dr Ken Lawton General Practitioner, Great Western Road Medical Group,
Aberdeen
Ms Jean MacLellan Branch Head, Community Care Division Branch 4, Scottish
Executive Health Department, Edinburgh
Dr Julie Pennycook General Practitioner, Merrylee Medical Centre, Glasgow
The membership of the guideline development group was confirmed following consultation
with the member organisations of SIGN. All members of the guideline development group
made declarations of interest and further details of these are available on request from the SIGN
Executive. Guideline development and literature review expertise, support and facilitation were
provided by the SIGN Executive.
10.3 SySTEMATIC LITERATURE REvIEw
The evidence base for this guideline was synthesised in accordance with SIGN methodology.
A systematic review of the literature was carried out using a search strategy devised by a SIGN
Information Officer. Databases searched include Medline, Embase, Cinahl, PsychINFO, and the
Cochrane Library. For most searches, the year range covered was 996-2006. Internet searches
were carried out on various websites including the New Zealand Guidelines Programme, NeLH
Guidelines Finder, and the US National Guidelines Clearinghouse. The Medline version of the
main search strategies can be found on the SIGN website, in the section covering supplementary
guideline material. The main searches were supplemented by material identified by individual
members of the development group.4
10.4 CONSULTATION AND pEER REvIEw
0.4.  NATIONAL OPEN MEETING
A national open meeting is the main consultative phase of SIGN guideline development, at
which the guideline development group presents its draft recommendations for the first time.
The national open meeting for this guideline was held on 3 October 2005 and was attended
by representatives of all the key specialties relevant to the guideline. The draft guideline was
also available on the SIGN website for a limited period at this stage to allow those unable to
attend the meeting to contribute to the development of the guideline.
Details of the search coverage, also see annex 3.
patient searches
Databases covered:
Caredata
Cinahl
Embase
Medline
Psychinfo
Social Work Abstracts
Dates covered:
996 – April 2004
996 – April 2004
996 – April 2004
996 – April 2004
996 – April 2004
988 – April 2004
Guidelines
GIN Website
National Guidelines Clearinghouse
NeLH Guidelines Finder
NICE Website
Embase (999-2004)
Medline (999-2004)
Systematic reviews
Databases covered: Medline, Embase,
Cinahl, PsycInfo, Cochrane
Dates covered:
996-2006
RCTs
Databases covered:
CINAHL
CCTR
Embase
Medline
Psychinfo
Dates covered:
996 – 2006
Observational studies
Databases covered: Medline, Embase,
Cinahl, PsycInfo, Cochrane
Dates covered:
996-2006
Diagnostic studies
Databases covered: Medline, Embase,
Cinahl, PsycInfo, Cochrane
Dates covered:
996-2005
10  DEvELOpMENT OF THE GUIDELINE42
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
0.4.2 SPECIALIST REVIEW
This guideline was sent in draft form to the following independent expert referees, who were
asked to comment primarily on the comprehensiveness and accuracy of interpretation of the
evidence base supporting the recommendations in the guideline. SIGN is very grateful to all
of these experts for their contribution to the guideline.
Professor Gillian Baird Professor of Developmental Paediatrics, Guy’s and
St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Trust, London
Ms Sue Barnard Consultation and Involvement Officer for Children with
Disabilities and their Families, Aberdeen
Dr Alan Begg General Practitioner, Angus
Dr Isabel Claire Clinical Psychologist, Autism Research Centre,
Cambridge University
Ms Joanna Daly Policy and Parlimentary Officer – Scotland, National
Autistic Society
Ms Amanda Di Candia Lay Reviewer, Aberdeen
Professor Aline-Wendy Dunlop Professor of Childhood and Primary Studies, Lead Director,
National Centre of Autism Studies, University of Strathclyde
Dr Allison Ferguson Consultant Paediatrician and Lead Consultant for Yorkhill
Community Autism Teams, Glasgow
Mr John Forrester Training and Assessment Consultant, Jigsaw Centre,
Aberdeen
Professor David Goldberg Consultant Epidemiologist, Health Protection Scotland,
Glasgow
Professor Rita Jordan Professor in Autism Studies, The University of Birmingham
Dr Deb Keen Associate Professor of Educational Psychology,
The University of Queensland, Australia
Professor Ann Le Couteur  Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Royal Victoria
Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne
Professor Catherine Lord  Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of
Michigan Autism and Communicative Disorders Clinic, USA
Mr John McDonald  Chief Executive, The Scottish Society for Autism, Alloa
Ms Fiona McGillivary Social Worker, Errol
Mr Andy Moir Occupational Therapist, Borders Autism Team, Selkirk
Mr Andrew Power Head of Prescribing Team, North Glasgow NHS Trust
Ms Trish Reynolds Chair, Wick Caithness Autism Parent Support Group
Mr David Rex               Child Health Dietitian, Raigmore Hospital, Inverness
Professor Sir Michael Rutter Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Institute of
Psychiatry, London
Ms Val Sellars Speech and Language Therapist, Scottish Centre for Autism,
Glasgow
Professor David Skuse Professor of Psychiatry, Institute of Child Health, London
Dr Vicky Slonims Prinicpal Speech and Language Therapist, Guy’s and St
Thomas’ Hospital NHS Trust, London
Mrs Laura Stewart    Paediatric Dietitian, Royal Hospital for Sick Children,
Edinburgh
Dr Lorna Wing Consultant Psychiatrist, The Centre for Social and
Communication Disorders, Kent43
10.4.3 SIGN EDITORIAL GROUP
As a final quality control check, the guideline was reviewed by an editorial group comprising
members of SIGN Council to ensure that the specialist reviewers’ comments were addressed
adequately and that any risk of bias in the guideline development process as a whole has been
minimised. The editorial group for this guideline was as follows:
Dr Keith Brown     Member of SIGN Council
Mr Robert Carachi    Member of SIGN Council
Professor Gordon Lowe   Chair of SIGN; Co-Editor
Ms Anne Mathew    Member of SIGN Council
Dr Moray Nairn     Programme Manager, SIGN
Dr Sara Twaddle     Director of SIGN; Co-Editor
10  DEvELOpMENT OF THE GUIDELINE44
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Abbreviations
3di   Developmental, dimensional and diagnostic interview
ABA Applied behavioural analysis
ADHD Attention deficit and hyperkinetic disorders
ADI-R Autism diagnostic interview – revised
ADOS-G Autism diagnostic observation schedule–generic
AIT   Auditory integration training
ASL   Additional support for learning
ASD Autism spectrum disorder
CARS Childhood autism rating scale
CAST   Childhood Asperger syndrome test
CBT   Cognitive behaviour therapy
CHAT Checklist for autism in toddlers
DISCO Diagnostic interview for social and communication disorders
DNA   Deoxyribonucleic acid
DSM-Iv Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders 4th edition
EEG Electroencephalogram
Gp   General practitioner
Hall 4 Health for all Children
ICD-10 International classification of diseases, version 10
IQ   Intelligence quotient
M-CHAT Modified checklist for autism in toddlers
MMR Measles, mumps and rubella
MRC   Medical Research Council
MRI   Magnetic resonance imaging
NApC   National autism plan for children
OCD   Obsessive compulsive disorder
pHIS   Public Health Institute of Scotland
RCT   Randomised controlled trial
SIGN Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network45
Annex 1
Criteria for assessing the reporting of the diagnosis of
ASD in the literature
When reviewing the literature the guideline development group found that the definitions of
ASD used for diagnosis varied considerably when reported and were often not reported at all.
To allow for consistency within the guideline the group agreed that three elements – assessment
process, classification system and diagnostic instrument – were important in the accurate
diagnosis of ASD. If a paper did not record diagnosis in this way it was downgraded.

A. Components of diagnostic assessment
1.  A recognised process of obtaining information in necessary domains, usually by multidisciplinary or multiagency personnel
2.  Mapping of the resulting information into a recognised  classification system such as
DSM–IV or ICD–10 (see section 2.2)
3.  Assessment using a recognised and published diagnostic instrument
B. Components of a reliable diagnosis
Increasing
accuracy and
reliability
Use of a process, and a diagnostic classification system, and an instrument
(i.e. , 2,  and 3, from A)
1. Use of a process and a diagnostic classification system
OR
2.   Use of an instrument and a diagnostic classification system
The use of a process, a diagnostic classification system or an instrument,
used singly
Diagnosis simply stated
NB each component of the assessment should be explicitly stated in the study/report under
consideration
ANNEX 146
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Annex 2
Comparison of ICD-0

and DSM-IV
2
definitions of
autism
ICD-10 research criteria DSM-Iv
F84.0 Childhood autism
A.  Presence of abnormal or impaired
development before the age of three
years, in at least one out of the following
areas:
()  receptive or expressive language as used
in social communication;
(2)  the development of selective social
attachments or of reciprocal social
interaction;
(3)  functional or symbolic play.
B.    Qualitative abnormalities in reciprocal
social interaction, manifest in at least
one of the following areas:
()    failure adequately to use eye-to-eye
gaze, facial expression, body posture
and gesture to regulate socialnteraction;
(2)  failure to develop (in a manner
appropriate to mental age, and despite
ample opportunities) peer relationships
that involve a mutual sharing of
interests, activities and emotions;
(3)  A lack of socio-emotional reciprocity
as shown by an impaired or deviant
response to other people’s emotions;
or lack of modulation of behaviour
according to social context, or a weak
integration of social, emotional and
communicative behaviours.
C.  Qualitative abnormalities in
communication, manifest in at least two
of the following areas:
()  a delay in, or total lack of
development of spoken language that
is not accompanied by an attempt to
compensate through the use of gesture
or mime as alternative modes of
communication (often preceded by a
lack of communicative babbling);
2)  relative failure to initiate or sustain
conversational interchange (at whatever
level of language skills are present) in
which there is reciprocal to and from
responsiveness to the communications of
the other person;
299.00    Autism
.  A total of six (or more) items from (),
(2), and (3), with at least two from (),
and one each from (2) and (3):
.  qualitative impairment in social
interaction, as manifested by at least
two of the following:
A.  marked impairment in the use of
multiple nonverbal behaviors such as
eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body
postures, and gestures to regulate social
interaction
B.  failure to develop peer relationships
appropriate to developmental level
C.  a lack of spontaneous seeking to share
enjoyment, interests, or achievements
with other people (e.g., by a lack of
showing, bringing, or pointing out
objects of interest)
D.  lack of social or emotional reciprocity
2.  qualitative impairments in
communication as manifested by at
least one of the following:
A.  delay in, or total lack of, the
development of spoken language
(not accompanied by an attempt to
compensate through alternative modes
of communication such as gesture or
mime)
B.  in individuals with adequate speech,
marked impairment in the ability to
initiate or sustain a conversation with
others
C.  stereotyped and repetitive use of
language or idiosyncratic language
D.  lack of varied, spontaneous makebelieve play or social imitative play
appropriate to developmental level
3.  restricted repetitive and stereotyped
patterns of behavior, interests, and
activities, as manifested by at least
one of the following: 47
(3)  stereotyped and repetitive use of
language or idiosyncratic use of words
or phrases;
(4)  abnormalities in pitch, stress, rate,
rhythm and intonation of speech;
D.  Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped
patterns of behaviour, interests and
activities, manifest in at least two of the
following areas:
()    an encompassing preoccupation with
one or more stereotyped and restricted
patterns of interest that are abnormal
in content or focus; or one or more
interests that are abnormal in their
intensity and circumscribed nature
although not abnormal in their content
or focus.
(2)    apparently compulsive adherence to
specific, non-functional, routines or
rituals;
(3)  stereotyped and repetitive motor
mannerisms that involve either hand or
finger flapping or twisting, or complex
whole body movements;
(4)    preoccupations with part-objects or
non-functional elements of play
materials (such as their odour, the feel
of their surface, or the noise or vibration
that they generate);
(5)  distress over changes in small, nonfunctional, details of the environment.
E.   The clinical picture is not attributable
to the other varieties of pervasive
developmental disorder; specific
developmental disorder of receptive
language (F80.2) with secondary
socio-emotional problems; reactive
attachment disorder (F94.) or
disinhibited attachment disorder
(F94.2); mental retardation (F70-F72)
with some associated emotional or
behavioural disorder; schizophrenia
(F20) of unusually early onset; and Rett’s
syndrome (F84.2).
A.  encompassing preoccupation with one
or more stereotyped and restricted
patterns of interest that is abnormal
either in intensity or focus
B.  apparently inflexible adherence to
specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
C.  stereotyped and repetitive motor
mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping
or twisting, or complex whole-body
movements)
D.  persistent preoccupation with parts of
objects
.  Delays or abnormal functioning in at
least one of the following areas, with
onset prior to age 3 years: () social
interaction, (2) language as used in
social communication, or (3) symbolic or
imaginative play.
2.  The disturbance is not better accounted
for by Rett’s Disorder or Childhood
Disintegrative Disorder.
299.80 pervasive Developmental Disorder
not otherwise specified (inclulding Atypical
Autism)
This category should be used when there
is a severe and pervasive impairment
in the development of reciprocal social
interaction associated with impairment in
either verbal or nonverbal communication
skills or with the presence of stereotyped
behavior, interests, and activities, but the
criteria are not met for a specific Pervasive
Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia,
Schizotypal Personality Disorder, or
Avoidant Personality Disorder.  For
example, this category includes “atypical
autism” – presentations that do not meet
the criteria for Autistic Disorder because of
late age at onset, atypical symptomatology,
or subthreshold symptomatology, or all of
these.
F84. Atypical autism
A.  Presence of abnormal or impaired
development at or after age three years
(criteria as for autism except for age of
manifestation).
B.   Qualitative abnormalities in reciprocal
social interaction or in communication,
or restricted, repetitive and stereotyped
patterns of behaviour, interests and
activities (criteria as for autism except
that it is not necessary to meet the
criteria in terms of number of areas of
abnormality).
299.80 Asperger’s Disorder
.  Qualitative impairment in social
interaction, as manifested by at least two
of the following:
.   marked impairment in the use of
multiple nonverbal behaviors such as
eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body
postures, and gestures to regulate social
interaction
2.   failure to develop peer relationships
appropriate to develpmental level
ANNEX 248
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
C.   The disorder does not meet the
diagnostic criteria for autism (F84.0).
Autism may be atypical in either age of
onset (F84.) or phenomenology (84.2),
these two types being differentiated with
a fifth character for research purposes.
Syndromes that are atypical in both respects
should be coded F84.2.
F84.0 Atypicality in age of onset
A.   Does not meet criterion A for autism.
That is, abnormal or impaired
development is evident only at or after
age three years.
B.   Meets criteria B, C, D and E for autism
(F84.0).
F84. Atypicality in symptomatology
A.   Meets criterion A for autism (i.e.
presence of abnormal or impaired
development before the age of three
years).
B.   Qualitative abnormalities in reciprocal
social interactions or in communication,
or restricted, repetitive and stereotyped
patterns of behaviour, interests and
activities (criteria as for autism except
that it is not necessary to meet the
criteria in terms of number of areas of
abnormality).
C.   Meets criterion E for autism.
D.   Does not meet the full criteria B, C and
D for autism (F84.0).
F84.2 Atypicality in both age of onset and
symptomatology
A.   Does not meet criterion A for
autism. That is abnormal or impaired
development is evident only at or after
the age of three years.
B.   Qualitative abnormalities in reciprocal
social interactions or in communication,
or restricted, repetitive and stereotyped
patterns of behaviour, interests and
activities (criteria as for autism except
that it is not necessary to meet the
criteria in terms of number of areas of
abnormality).
3.   a lack of spontaneous seeking to share
enjoyment, interests, or achievements
with other people (e.g., by a lack of
showing, bringing, or pointing out
objects of interest to other people)
4.   lack of social or emotional reciprocity
.   Restricted repetitive and stereotyped
patterns of behavior, interests, and
activities, as manifested by at least one
of the following:
.   encompassing preoccupation
with one or more stereotyped and
restricted patterns of interest that is
abnormal either in intensity or focus
2.    apparently inflexible adherence to
specific, nonfunctional routines or
rituals
3.   steroetyped and repetitive motor
mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger
flapping or twisting, or complex
whole-body movements)
4.   persistent reoccupation with parts of
objects
3.   The disturbance causes clinically
significant impairment in social,
occupational, or other important
areas of functioning.
4.   There is no clinically significant general
delay in language (e.g., single words
used by age 2 years, communiative
phrases used by age 3 years).
5.   There is no clinically significant delay
in cognitive development or in the
development of age-appropriate selfhelp skills, adaptive behavior (other
than in social interaction), and curiosity
about the environment in childhood.
6.   Criteria are not met for another specific
Pervasive Developmental Disorder or
Schizophrenia.
C.   Meets criterion E for autism.
D.   Does not meet the full criteria B, C and
D for autism (F84.0).49
Annex 3
The key questions used to develop the guideline
KQ
No.
Question Include/Exclude
 Which methods, parental concerns and developmental features are of relevance to surveillance for ASD?
All questions relate to children.
In this context the term “child”
encompasses all individuals
aged 0 – 8 years inclusive.
2 Can groups at high risk for a diagnosis of ASD be reliably identified for the purposes of screening?
3 Is there a sensitive, specific, cost-effective method of screening for ASD?
4 What is the minimum age at which ASD can be reliably diagnosed?
5 Are there reliable, valid and useful methods of assessment for use in the diagnosis of ASD? (See list below)
6 Are there reliable, valid and useful diagnostic interview/observation schedules for use in ASD assessments? (See list below)
7
What evidence is there that, prior to and at the time of diagnosis, specific methods of support or providing
information to parents have a positive impact on children and their families?
Genetic counselling
8 Is there any evidence that early assessment and diagnosis confers benefit to an individual or their family?
9
Are there effective training interventions for professionals involved in the recognition, assessment, and diagnosis of
ASD?
0 What is the evidence to support the use of multiagency teams in assessment and support in ASD?

Is there evidence for a reliable and valid diagnostic classification system/list of diagnostic criteria for use in the
diagnosis of ASD?
(See below)
2
Which conditions occur in association/comorbidly with ASD, and can their presence be specifically excluded or
confirmed?
(See below)
3
What range of psychological, biological, communication, or social investigations are indicated during the process of
assessment and diagnosis of ASD, and when should they be carried out?
(See below)
ANNEX 350
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
4 Is there evidence that specific findings at the time of ASD diagnostic assessment can reliably predict prognosis?
5 Which dietary/non-pharmaceutical interventions have been shown to improve outcome for children with ASD? (See list below)
6 Which pharmaceutical medications have been shown to improve outcome for children with ASD? (See list below)
7 Does timing, duration, and intensity of dietary/non-pharmaceutical interventions influence outcome in ASD? (See list below)
8 Does timing, duration, and intensity of pharmaceutical interventions influence outcome in ASD? (See list below)
9 Is early intervention more effective than late intervention in ASD?
20
Is there evidence that any specific dietary/non-pharmaceutical interventions are more appropriate for children with
particular forms of ASD, or particular types of comorbidity?
(See list below)
2
Is there evidence that any specific pharmaceutical interventions are more appropriate for children with particular
forms of ASD, or particular types of comorbidity?
(See list below)
22
Is there evidence that particular models of service delivery are more effective than others in improving outcome in
ASD?
ASD-specific service compared
to general service.
Inclusive educational setting
compared to special educational
setting.
Multidisciplinary/agency service
compared to single agency
Home based compared to
classroom based interventions
Clinical integrated pathway
compared to single service.
23
What evidence is there to support particular approaches to providing information to parents or carers of children who
have, or may have, ASD?
24
What evidence is there that identifies the general support needs of parents or carers following a diagnosis of ASD in a
child?
Include genetic counselling
25
What are the support needs of ASD patients, their parents or carers during transitions, and how should they be
monitored?
Include genetic counselling5
Assessment methods for use with Question 5:
Activities of daily living (ADL)
Assessment of communication
Assessment of social functioning
Clinical history
Developmental history
Dietitian
Direct observation
Functional skills assessment
Multiagency assessment
Multi-disciplinary assessment
Neurocognitive assessment
Occupational therapist
Paediatrician
Peer interaction
Physical examination
Play-based assessment
Psychiatrist
Psychologist
Psychotherapist
Speech and language therapist
ANNEX 352
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
For use with Question 6:
ASD specific instruments (screening and diagnostic):
3di
ACE
Asperger syndrome (and high-functioning autism) diagnostic interview (ASDI)
Asperger syndrome screening questionnaire (ASSQ)
Australian Scale for Asperger syndrome (ASAS)
Autism behaviour checklist (ABC)
Autism diagnostic observation schedule (ADOS) and ADOS-G
Autism screening questionnaire (ASQ)
Autism spectrum quotient (AQ)
Autistic diagnostic interview (ADI, and also ADI-R)
Childhood Asperger syndrome test (CAST)
Childhood autism rating scale (CARS)
Child communication checklist (CCC)
Diagnostic interview for social communication disorders (DISCO)
ERNIE
Gillam autism rating scale (GARS)
Narrative assessment protocol
Parent interview for autism
Pervasive developmental disorders – mental retardation (PDD-MR)
Prutting Pragmatic Profile Social communication questionnaire
SCDC
SNAP
Social Response Scale (SRS)
STAT
TEACCH checklist
Wing autistic disorder interview checklist53
For use with Question 11:
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders – 3
rd
Edition (DSM-III)
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders – 3
rd
Edition (Revised) (DSM-III-R)
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders – 4
th
Edition (DSM-IV)
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders – 4
th
Edition (Text Revision) (DSM-IV-TR)
Gillberg’s criteria (989, 99)
International classification of diseases 8 (ICD 8)
International classification of diseases 9 (ICD 9)
International classification of diseases 10 (ICD-10)
Szatmari’s criteria (989)
For use with Question 12:
Anxiety
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Catatonia
Conduct disorder
Constipation
Depression
Disruptive behaviour
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
Epilepsy
Gastrointestinal disorders
Hearing disorders
Immunology
Learning difficulties
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Psychomotor disorders
Reactive attachment disorder
Sensation disorders
Sleep disorders
Speech/Communication disorders
Tics
Tourette syndrome
Vision disorders
ANNEX 354
AASSESSMENT SSESSMENT, , DIAGNOSIS DIAGNOSIS AND AND CLINICAL CLINICAL INTER INTERvvENTIONS ENTIONS FOR FOR CHILDREN CHILDREN AND AND y yOUNG OUNG p pEOEOppLELE w wITHITH AUTISM AUTISM SSppECTRUM ECTRUM DISORDERS DISORDERS
For use with Question 13: Physical examination
Auditory testing
Blood tests: calcium/phosphorus; creatinine; full blood count; lactic acid; lead; magnesium; phenylalanine; pyruvic acid; 24 hour urine–uric acid
Chromosomal investigations
CT Scan
Electroencephalogram (EEG)
Immunological testing
Karyotyping
PET Scan
Molecular genetics testing, including fragile X
Monitoring of growth and development
MRI scan
Sleep electroencephalogram
SPECT Scan
Test for inborn errors of metabolism – methylmalonic acidurea; mitochondrial cytopathies; mucopolysaccaridoses; ornithine transcarbamilase;
phenylketonuria; purine and pyrimidine disorders; Smith’s Lemli-Opitz syndrome; tyrosine hydroxylase deficiency; urinary indolylacryloylacine (IAG).
Visual testing55
For use with Question 13: Communication, speech and language assessment
A gesture test
A visual perception/spatial assessment
British picture vocabulary scale
Central coherence
Child communication checklist
Clinical evaluation of language fundamentals (CELF – pre-school 3-6. years,
CELF–3UK 6-21 years)
Derbyshire language scheme
Functional skills assessment
Happe stories
Macarthur communication development inventory
Movement ABC test
Play assessment
Pre-school language scales-3 (UK)
Renfrew language scales
Reynell developmental language scales
School based assessment of motor and process skills
School function assessment
Sensory motor profile
Social use of language programme
Symbolic play test
Test of pretend play
Test of reception of grammar
The autistic continuum
The pragmatics profile of early communication skills in children
Theory of mind stories
Understanding ambiguity
For use with Question 13: Cognitive assessments
Bailey
BASII
Emotion perception tests (eg FEEST)
Frontal lobe/executive function tests (eg Tower of
Hanoi, Wisconsin card sort)
Griffith scales
Kaufman
Leiter
McCarthy scales
Merrill-Palmer
Mullen scales
Psychoeducational profile revised (PEP-R)
Ravens CPM
Stanford-Binet
Vineland adaptive behaviour scales
Wechsler tests – WPPSI, WISC WAIS
ANNEX 356
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Investigations to be covered
Supplementary investigations following diagnosis (to supplement KQs 13, 14 and 15):
Absolute CD4 cells
Absolute CD8 cells
Absolute CD16 NK cells
Absolute CD9 B cells
Albumin
Blood toxic metals –lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminium
C-reactive proteins
Calcium/corrected calcium
CD4/CD8 ratio
Cholesterol
Chromium
Coeliac screen
Copper
Cytotron lymph count
Essential fatty acids – red cells
Ferritin
Folate
Functional blood B vitamins
Globulin
Glucose
Hair mineral analysis
HUFA – highly unsaturated fatty acids
IgA
IgE
IgG
IgM
Iron/iron saturation
Liver function tests
Magnesium
Malabsorption
Manganese
Measles serology
MMR antigens
Nitric oxide
Opioid peptides
Organic acid profile –glycolysis, amino acid metabolites, fatty acid
metabolites, yeast/fungal, bacterial, anaerobic bacterial, Krebs cycle,
neurotransmitters, pyrimidines
Phosphate
Plasma sulphate
Red cell lipid
Red cell magnesium
Routine haematology
Selenium
Serum vitamins, including B6, B2
Stool culture/parasitology/clostridia difficile toxin
Total protein
Triglycerides
Urea and electrolytes
Uric acid
Urine kryptopyrroles
Urine sulphate inorganic /organic
Urine sulphite
Zinc57
Interventions to be covered
Non-pharmacological interventions (re: KQs 15, 17 and 20):
Anger management programme; attachment; circle
of friends
Behavioural interventions
British sign language
Challenging behaviour interventions
Child’s talk
Cognitive behavioural therapy; desensitisation
therapy; group therapy
Communication/language training; augmentive
communication
Communication intervention; computer
interventions; virtual reality training
DDAT (Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit
Treatment Centre)
Developmental skills
Dolphins
EarlyBird
Facilitated communication
Gentle teaching; growing minds; intensive
interaction
Hanen Parent Programme
Heavy metal chelation
HELP
Herbal/homeopathic interventions
Holding therapy
Homeopathy
Light and sound therapy
LOVAAS or ABA (applied behavioural analysis)
Makaton
Movement programmes; physical exercise
Occupational therapy;  art therapy; auditory
integration therapy; music therapy; Tomatis
method
Parent programmes
Peer mediated intervention
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS);
sign communication; signed English
Portage
Precision teaching
Psychotherapy; autogenic training
Psychodynamic psychotherapy
Self awareness training
Sensory integration therapy
Sexual health
Social communication training
Social interaction training
Social skills training; daily life therapy
Social stories
Sonrise OPTIONS
Speech therapy
SPELL
SPIRALS
Talking mats
TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and
related Communication in Handicapped Children)
Teaching methods; brain gym
Theory of mind training
Total communication
Verbal behaviour
Visual language
Visual therapies; colorimetric therapy; Irlen lenses/
glasses; orthoptics
and combinations of the above
ANNEX 358
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
Interventions to be covered
(a) pharmacological therapy (Re: KQs 16, 18 and 21)
Antibiotics
Anticonvulsants; carbamazepine, valproic acid
(sodium valproate)
Antidepressants; atomoxetine
Antiemetic agents; chlorpromazine
Antifungal agents
Antimigraine agents; clonidine
Antipsychotic agents; clozapine; olanzapine;
quetiapine; risperidone; thioridazine
Antiviral agents; acyclovir
Haloperidol
Laxatives
Lithium
Melatonin
Naltrexone
Nystatin
Opiate antagonists
Pimozide
Psychostimulants; dexamphetamine;
methylphenidate (Ritalin)
Secretin
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs);
fluoextine; fluvoxamine; paroxetine; sertraline;
venlafaxine
Sertraline
Steroids
Tricyclic antidepressants; amitriptyline;
clomipramine; desipramine; imipramine
Interventions to be covered
(b) Diet therapy (Re: KQs 15, 17 and 20)
Amino acids
Dietary supplements; enzymeaid; evening primrose oil
Dimethylglycine
Eye-Q
Fatty acids; essential fatty acids
Highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA)
Liquorice
Magnesium
Manganese
Myelin based protein supplements; probiotics
Omega 3 fatty acids; docosahexaeonic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid
(EPA), short chain fatty acids
Special diets; additive free, exclusion diets, casein free, gluten free, low
salicylate, low sugar, molecular diet, orthomolecular diet, yeast free.
Vitamins; vitamin B6, vitamin C/ascorbic acid
Zinc59
Annex 4
Structured instruments for use in screening high risk groups
Instrument Format Description Target Age Range
Pervasive Developmental Disorders
Rating Scale
229
Completed by a professional Adequate reliability  - 8 years old
Modified-Checklist for Autism in
Toddlers (M-CHAT)
30
Parent questionnaire Developed from the CHAT, accurately
discriminates autism from other
developmental disorders
8-30 months old
The Childhood Autism Rating Scale
CARS ( )
53
Completed by professionals after taking a
clinical history and observing the child
Over 2 years old
The Screening Tool for Autism in Two
Year Olds (STAT)
34
Completed by a professional after
interacting with the child in a structured
play context
High sensitivity, specificity and
acceptable reliability
24-35 months old
Checklist for Autism in Toddlers
CHAT ( )
37
Completed by a professional after a
brief interview with parents and a semistructured observation period with the
child
Accurately discriminates autism from
other developmental disorders
2-3 years old
The Social Communication Disorders
Checklist
230
Parent self report Good reliability and validity 3-8 years old
Social Communication
Questionnaire
36
Parent or primary care giver report Based on ADI-R, able to discriminate
between children with a diagnosis of an
ASD and children who do not have an
ASD
Over 4 years old
Social Responsiveness Scale
23
Parent or teacher report Measures the severity of social
impairment. Correlates with ADI-R scores
4-8 years old
Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test
CAST ( )
33, 232
Parent questionnaire Good sensitivity and specificity 5- years old
ANNEX 460
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND CLINICAL INTERvENTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND yOUNG pEOpLE wITH AUTISM SpECTRUM DISORDERS
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BehAviourAl psychologic / Al interventions 
development of adaptive skills.
symptom frequency and severity and to increase the
a wide range of specific behaviours, both to reduce
Behavioural interventions should be considered to address  B
difficulties and circumstances.
represent a child’s strategy for coping with their individual
behaviours may be due to an underlying lack of skills or may
Healthcare professionals should be aware that some aberrant  
young people who experience sleep disturbance.
Behavioural therapy should be considered for children and  
environments, activities and routines in daily life.
therapy, eg providing advice and support in adapting
Children and young people may benefit from occupational  
   the lovaas programme should not be presented as an
intervention that will lead to normal functioning.
   Auditory integration training is not recommended.
   facilitated communication should not be used as a
with A
means to communicate with children and young people
sd.
A
people with ASD.
their employment with some groups of children and young
a level of verbal and cognitive development which precludes
Professionals should be aware that some interventions require  
non ph- ArmAcologicAl interventions
pArent medi – Ated interventions 
and mental health.
development and increase parental satisfaction, empowerment
they may help families interact with their child, promote
Parent intervention programmes should be considered as  
communicAtions interventions 
   interventions to support communication are indicated,
of pictures of objects
such as the use of visual augmentation, eg in the form
   interventions to support social communication should
being assessed on an individual basis.
be considered, with the most appropriate intervention
d
of children and young people with ASD may be of benefit
Adapting the communicative, social and physical environments
(eg
and minimising sensory irritations).
social interactions, using routine, timetabling and prompting
providing visual prompts, reducing requirements for complex

managed in the same way as in children without ASD.
Gastrointestinal symptoms in children with ASD should be  
BiomedicAl And nutritionAl inteventions 
deficiencies or intolerances.
or producing physical symptoms of recognised nutritional
on restricted diets that may be adversely impacting on growth,
selectivity and dysfunctional feeding behaviour, or who are
and young people with ASD who display significant food
Advice on diet and food intake should be sought for children  
aggression or other symptoms.
as a short to medium term intervention for specific severe
psychiatric or neurodevelopmental conditions in ASD or
be considered when appropriate, for treatment of comorbid
in children and adolescents. Pharmacological treatment may
indication, and there are few drugs specifically licensed for use
No pharmacological treatments have ASD as a licensing
decision.
and their parents/carers, so that they can make an informed
individual child, and discussed as appropriate with them
pharmacological treatment needs to be considered for each
The potential balance of risks and benefits from any
risperidone 
melAtonin 
   risperidone is useful for short term treatment of
children with autism
significant aggression, tantrums or self injury in
   weight should be monitored regularly in children and
young people who are taking risperidone.
B
access to pharmacy or other support as required.
be undertaken by clinicians with appropriate training and
Pharmacological treatment of children with ASD should only  
phArmAcologicAl interventions
methylphenidate may be considered for treatment of
people with A
attention difficulties/hyperactivity in children or young
sd.
B

could be considered in children prior to any longer trial
Use of a test dose to assess if methylphenidate is tolerated
  Side effects should be carefully monitored.

melatonin may be considered for treatment of sleep
interventions.
problems which have persisted despite behavioural
d
methylphenidAte Assessment, diAgnosis And clinicAl interventions for children And young people with Autism spectrum disorders
98
speciAlist Assessment
recognising possiBle Asd 
population screening for Asd is not recommended. c
the use of an appropriate structured instrument may be
children and young people at high risk of A
a useful supplement to the clinical process to identify
sd.
c
recognition, Assessment & diAgnosis
d
assessment for A
to the early identification of children requiring further
surveillance, healthcare professionals can contribute
As part of the core programme of child health
sd, and other developmental disorders:

vigilance for features suggestive of A
clinical assessment should incorporate a high level of
sd, in the domains
development and behaviour
of social interaction and play, speech and language
   chAt or m ch – At can be used in young children to
of A
identify clinical features indicative of an increased risk
sd but should not be used to rule out Asd
part of routine practice.
or genetic syndromes should include surveillance for ASD as
developmental delay, emotional and behavioural problems,
The assessment of children and young people with  
affected children.
that there is a substantial increased risk of ASD in siblings of
Healthcare professionals should consider informing families  
Asd should be part of the differential diagnosis for very
developmental features, as typical A
young (preschool) children displaying absence of normal
sd behaviours may
not be obvious in this age group.
d
considered at any age.
for further diagnosis of an ASD assessment should be
Regardless of the findings of any earlier assessments, referral  
specialist assessment.
or young person may have ASD, they should be referred for
If on the basis of initial assessment, it is suspected that a child  

of ASD and aid accurate diagnosis
process is recommended as it may identify different aspects
The use of different professional groups in the assessment

information
and the obtaining of wider contextual and functional
element, a clinical observation/assessment element,
Specialist assessment should involve a history-taking

people with ASD.
needs should be considered for all children and young
The appropriateness of an assessment of mental health

history tAKing 
   healthcare professionals should take an Asd specific
diagnostic history
   Asd specific history taking instruments may be
A
considered as a means of improving the reliability of
sd diagnosis.
c
d
as many available sources as is feasible.
outside the clinic setting, should routinely be obtained from
Information about children and young people’s functioning  
clinicAl oBservAtion/Assessment 
   healthcare professionals should directly observe
communication skills and behaviour
and assess the child or young person’s social and
   healthcare professionals should consider using Asd
improving the reliability of A
specific observational instruments, as a means of
sd diagnosis.
c
d
conteXtuAl And functionAl informAtion 
individuAl profiling 
All children and young people with Asd should have a
intervention.
and communication skills, which should in turn, inform
comprehensive evaluation of their speech and language
d
that suggested by their expressive language skills.
comprehension may be at a lower developmental level than
Practitioners should note that an individual’s level of  
children and young people with Asd should be considered
adaptive functioning.
for assessment of intellectual, neuropsychological and
d
be considered where relevant.
Occupational therapy and physiotherapy assessments should  
speciAlist Assessment (contd)
service provision
All professions and service providers working in the Asd
staff have up-to-date knowledge and adequate skill levels.
field should review their training arrangements to ensure
d
extended during periods of transition.
Social work contact with families should be instituted or  
informAtion And support
   professionals should offer parents good quality written
disclosing information about their child with A
information and an opportunity to ask questions when
sd
   parents should be provided with information in an
accessible and absorbable form.
d
to assess their child.
letters sent to the various professionals who have been asked
receive written information. This may include copies of the
Children, young people and their parents should routinely  
education and skills interventions for parents of
pre-school children with Asd should be offered.
B
of all children and young people diagnosed with ASD.
Education and skills interventions should be offered to parents  
Adults with Incapacity Act (Scotland).
Families should be advised of relevant legislation under the  
conditions AssociAted with Asd 
to accurately identify and manage comorbid problems.
Where necessary, detailed assessment should be carried out
comorbid problems in children and young people with ASD.
Clinicians should be aware of the need to routinely check for  c
same range of therapeutic interventions as any other child.
emotional difficulties/disorders and should have access to the
young people with ASD may also have medical problems or
Healthcare professionals should recognise that children and  
where clinically relevant, the need for the following
with A
should be reviewed for all children and young people
sd:

and dysmorphic features
physical status, with particular attention to neurological
   karyotyping and fragile X dnA analysis
   audiological status
   investigations to rule out recognised aetiologies of Asd
(eg tuberous sclerosis)
d
BiomedicAl investigAtions 

 

 

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Posted on ธันวาคม 6, 2012, in บทความ. Bookmark the permalink. 1 ความเห็น.

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