What are the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Answer

A major public health problem in the care of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other pervasive developmental disorders is the inconsistent diagnosis of autism. Criteria for the diagnosis of autism are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, and the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, Fourth Edition (ICD-9-CM). [5, 124]

Although the criteria for autism and other pervasive developmental disorders differ between the DSM-5 and the ICD-9-CM, they are both widely accepted and are used around the world by clinicians and researchers.

A discussion of the differences in the criteria for autism and related conditions in the DSM-5, the ICD-9-CM, and other nomenclatures is beyond the scope of this article. The key point for pediatricians and other clinicians is that the criteria for autism and related conditions in the DSM-5 and the ICD-9-CM are presented in an outline form without a discussion of the terms used.

The DSM-5 and the ICD-9-CM are poor textbooks of child development and child psychopathology; they do not fully describe the concepts incorporated in the criteria for autism and related conditions. Therefore, an inexperienced clinician is likely to incorrectly apply the criteria for autism and related conditions in the DSM-5 and the ICD-9-CM.

The diagnosis of Autistic Disorder in DSM-5 has 2 key criteria: [5]

  • Impairments in social communication and social interaction

  • A restricted, repetitive range of interests, behaviors, and activities


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