Why Autism Diagnosis Standards Must Stop Overlooking Functional Ability of Individuals

There are many ways to highlight behavioral issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorder. It has also been one of the hot topics for discussions over the last four years, regarding the methods that could be adopted to understand and interpret mental conditions.

functioning ability is currently overlooked in autism diagnosis

The Diagnostic Elements

The three main points to make a note of when understanding a mental condition are:

  • The symptoms or features present
  • The daily functioning abilities of an individual in any given environment
  • An individual’s quality of life and their respective subject matter experience

A standard manual, the DSM 5 for instance, assists an expert in providing useful and theoretical descriptions of the many conditions that exist.

However, neither the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” nor the “International Statistical Classification (ICF) of Diseases” account for the necessary elements of an individual’s daily living or his/her quality of life, even though these should form the basis of any clinical assessment program.

The way manuals express the ideas and address various needs are raw and minimalistic, as they tend to not express precise details on a finer level and rather disabilities within contextual settings, for instance in social gatherings such as workplace or youngsters in their school environment.

During early 2001, WHO (World Health Organization) had a book published, which could serve as a standardized platform for clinical assessments of physical and mental functioning and address different needs.

The international classification has documented, all possible categories, as many 1600 conditions depicting the many unique categories of a person’s physical as well as mental condition.

Nevertheless, this guide is too wide to be practically implemented in day to day clinical settings.

This is one of the many reasons, subject experts around the globe have been working towards developing a standardized guide for few physical and psychological conditions.

The documents are being designed and developed to have only relevant categories and care is taken to avoid irrelevant details.

Further, they are being developed to specify the important disabilities and abilities that tend to be associated with each condition.

Shifting Focus on Autism Core Sets

Important collaborations of many experts in their respective fields, such as psychiatrists, educators and pathologies, have been incorporated to intensify the focus and to have a multidisciplinary approach.

This is evident from the fact that during the early September 2016, autism core set consisting of the most important entries from ICF was finalized.

This information could be used by researchers and clinicians to conduct an accurate analysis and to address needs of the people at a better level.

Further, it will also assist policy makers to assess the lifetime treatment costs for individuals with spectrum condition and plan community benefits accordingly.

A rigorous four-step process was followed while creating the core set for autism needs

Initially, a systematic literature review was conducted by analyzing more than 71 autism case studies.

This was followed by valuable inputs on autistic ability and disability by an international gathering of experts.

Subsequently, immediate family members of autistic individuals and caretakers were interviewed gain further understanding of their opinions on the relevant abilities and disabilities of the concerned individual.

Finally, a cross-sectional study was conducted with people of varying age and severity of autism spectrum condition to observe and articulate their functioning in real time.

Thus many steps are being taken up by experts to ensure relevant details are well addressed and individuals with ASD are assisted with basic strategies to facilitate their independence in daily living activities.

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