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

earch has suggested that Asperger syndrome really isn't different from other autism spectrum disorders."

In the new study, Dr. Lord and co-author Dr. Eva Petkova, a biostatistician at NYU, studied about 2,100 people between the ages of 4 and 18 who were given a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder by clinicians at 12 university-based centers. The participants were recruited from the Simons Simplex Collection, a multi-site project aimed at studying de novo genetic variations in families affected by autism spectrum disorders. The clinicians, who are experts in autism spectrum disorders, received training on how to administer and score the same set of cognitive tests and standardized instruments assessing social and communication skills and repetitive behavior, including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview -- Revised (ADI-R). However, they received no specific training in making best-estimate clinical diagnoses. They used the DSM-IV-TR to classify individuals into three categories of varying severity: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder -- not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome.

The researchers found that diagnoses of specific categories of autism spectrum disorder varied dramatically from site to site across the country. For instance, clinicians at one site gave only a diagnosis of autistic disorder, while clinicians at other sites gave that diagnosis to fewer than half of the participants. The proportion of individuals receiving a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome ranged from zero to nearly 21 percent across sites. These site differences were the second most important factor accounting for variation in the diagnoses (after social and communication deficits). However, the individuals with autism spectrum disorders did not vary significantly across sites in terms of their demographic information or developmental and behavioral characteristics, as measured by standardized
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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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