Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a chronic condition typically diagnosed in early childhood. A multidisciplinary approach to management and an evolving treatment plan are essential for successful long-term patient outcomes. Early diagnosis, referral and intervention are key to management of children with ASD and GPs play an important role in co-ordinating care across their lifespan.
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterised by deficits in social communication and the presence of restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behaviours.
- Presentations are diverse.
- Comorbidities are common and occur in over 70% of children with ASD.
- Early referral to a paediatric specialist for diagnosis is important, but diagnostic assessment need not delay commencement of intervention.
- GPs can facilitate referral of children with ASD to specialists and allied health professionals for early interventions including speech and occupational therapists, psychologists and audiologists.
- Medications may play a role in managing comorbid psychiatric and medical issues.
- GPs have an important role in early identification, ongoing management and care co-ordination of children with ASD, and are uniquely placed to monitor the wellbeing of carers.
- Referral to the local National Disability Insurance Scheme Early Childhood Early Intervention partner should be made for every child under 7 years of age who presents with developmental concerns, and can be made before specialist diagnostic assessment.