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Thursday 27th June 2019

Guidance offered to GPs on spotting autism

27th June 2012

Family doctors have been given new guidance to help them identify autism in adults to help them get the help they need.


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published the guidance to see NHS staff better equipped to recognise the signs and symptoms of autism in adults.

There are half a million people in the UK with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) including Asperger syndrome, but those not diagnosed in childhood often feel isolated and confused, despite support being available.

NICE’s first clinical guideline on how to recognise, refer, diagnose and manage autism in adults advises healthcare professionals to consider a diagnostic assessment for autism using a number of criteria.

These include when an adult has indicators such as persistent difficulties in social interaction; persistent difficulties in social communication; stereotypic (rigid and repetitive) behaviours, resistance to change or restricted interests; problems in obtaining or sustaining employment or education; difficulties in initiating or sustaining social relationships; previous or current contact with mental health or learning disability services’ and a history of a neurodevelopmental condition or ‘mental disorder'.

Professor Stephen Pilling, director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, which developed the clinical guideline on NICE’s behalf, said: “Autism can affect adults in many different ways which means the condition can often be overlooked by healthcare, education and social care professionals.

“We hope that this advice will inspire greater confidence and awareness among healthcare professionals, and allow more adults with autism to have their individual needs recognised and receive the support they need.”


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