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Diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders vary widely across clinics
Date:11/9/2011

NEW YORK (Nov. 9, 2011) -- To diagnose autism spectrum disorders, clinicians typically administer a variety of tests or scales and use information from observations and parent interviews to classify individuals into subcategories listed in standard psychiatric diagnostic manuals. This process of forming "best-estimate clinical diagnoses" has long been considered the gold standard, but a new study demonstrates that these diagnoses are widely variable across centers, suggesting that this may not be the best method for making diagnoses.

"Clinicians at one center may use a label like Asperger syndrome to describe a set of symptoms, while those at another center may use an entirely different label for the same symptoms. This is not a good way to make a diagnosis," says the study's lead investigator, Dr. Catherine Lord, director of the Institute for Brain Development, a partnership of Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center. "Autism spectrum disorders are just that -- a spectrum of disorders. Instead of using subcategories, it would be better to simply report the results from agreed-upon tests and scales. This approach would provide more consistent and accurate information about individual patients."

The new study, published on Nov. 7 in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, adds to previous evidence that standardized diagnostic instruments accurately predict who has autism and will continue to have it over time. It is also in line with recent skepticism about the value of categorical groupings of autism spectrum disorders in standard diagnostic manuals, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV text revision (DSM-IV-TR) and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases. "There has been a lot of controversy about whether there should be separate diagnoses for autism spectrum disorder, especially Asperger syndrome," Dr. Lord says. "Most of the res
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Contact: Takla Boujaoude
tab2016@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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