Back to Articles November 20, 2018 | NDIS Sector News

New guidelines aim to standardise the diagnosis of Autism in Australia



The federal government last month released a range of new guidelines that aim to standardise the diagnosis of Autism in Australia.

The guidelines were developed and published by Autism CRC with the financial support of the National Disability Insurance Agency and aim to create greater consistency in diagnosis practices across the country to ensure individuals on the autism spectrum and their families can receive the optimal care.

Participants on the autism spectrum make up the largest disability group within the NDIS, meaning the changes could affect a lot of people, as much as 31% of all NDIS participants. The announcement was made last month in Canberra by the Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher, who assured people that the changes would not affect those already supported by the NDIS.


The guideline outlines a step-by-step process for conducting a Comprehensive Needs Assessment and a Diagnostic Evaluation of autism, from the time of referral until the results are shared in a written report. It contains 70 recommendations for optimal assessments and diagnosis of Autism. It is Australia’s first move towards a standardised approach to diagnose Autism.  Mr Fletcher said that the changes were positive and that they were not meant to raise the bar for diagnosis, but that they would help people to receive better services. It would do this because the new guidelines were developed to drive better diagnostic standards. The theory is that when people are more accurately diagnosed, they can receive more accurate assessments so that they can be directed to the correct supports.

The next challenge will be to ensure that the guidelines are adopted and implemented by clinicians and services who are involved in the assessment and diagnosis of Autism in Australia. Mr. Fletcher said that it was too early to tell what effect the guidelines would have saying, “we will have to wait and see what the impacts of this are”.

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