Autism spectrum disorder: Warning signs, detection, diagnosis and assessment in children and adolescents

Practice guidelines - Posted on Feb 19 2018

This Best Practice Guideline updates the “Professional practice guidelines for the diagnosis of autism” which were developed in 2005 by the French Federation of Psychiatry (FFP) in partnership with HAS.

The central issue in detection and then early diagnosis is the opportunity to implement interventions suitable for ASD that are global, personalised and coordinated. If possible, this should be accomplished before 4 years of age, to encourage their development and learning in the areas affected by the ASD and reducing associated disabilities.

The objective of this work is:

  • to optimise the detection of children and adolescents with signs of ASD or unusual development or at risk of developing an ASD
  • and to harmonise practices and procedures for an initial diagnosis of ASD in children or adolescents under 18 years of age.

The clinical guideline maps the pathway of the child and his/her family (figure 1) and is designed around the following plan:

  • From warning signs to the dedicated consultation in primary care
  • Diagnosis and initial assessment of the child’s functioning
  • Announcement of the medical diagnosis and information for families
  • Procedures to follow from detection to diagnosis - Pathway
  • Conditions for adoption of recommendations and perspectives


Figure 1. Procedures to follow for diagnosis of ASD - Pathway

Figure 1. Pathway of the child and his/her family from the identification of warning signs to the implementation of the personalised intervention plan

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