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Autism spectrum disorder diagnostic assessments: improvements since publication of the National Autism Plan for Children
  1. E Palmer1,
  2. C Ketteridge2,
  3. J R Parr3,
  4. G Baird4,
  5. A Le Couteur5
  1. 1Highpoint House, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, UK
  2. 2Borders General Hospital, UK
  3. 3Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
  4. 4Newcomen Centre, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust, London, UK
  5. 5Institute of Health and Society, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle University, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Ann Le Couteur, Newcastle University, Sir James Spence Institute, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK; a.s.le-couteur{at}


Objectives To assess in the context of a publically funded healthcare system, change in UK autism spectrum disorder (ASD) clinical diagnostic practice following the recommendations of the National Autism Plan for Children (NAP-C 2003).

Methods In 2007, a questionnaire based on standards from the NAP-C was sent to UK child development teams (CDTs); results were compared with 2001 data from the National Initiative for Autism Screening and Assessment.

Main findings Responses were received from 149 of 243 UK CDTs (61%). Most teams used standardised autism diagnostic assessments. There was greater access to members of the multidisciplinary team than in 2001. Only one-third of teams had a defined timescale for completion of assessment; of those teams, about half met the recommended NAP-C target.

Conclusions Since 2001, there has been an improvement in diagnostic services for children with ASD, however, inequalities remain. Providers should continue to improve services in order to deliver timely and comprehensive assessments for children with ASD.

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  • Competing interest None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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