Strategies for the management and assessment of patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in Western Australia could be introduced to other states and territories, according to an article in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.
Dr John Wray, Developmental Paediatrician at the State Child Development Centre and Dr Emma Glasson from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at The University of Western Australia and their co-authors say the WA initiatives have led to improvements in many areas of ASD management.
"WA has implemented statewide guidelines for the assessment of ASDs, has developed an open forum for clinicians to discuss issues relating to the assessment process, and supports a statewide register of newly diagnosed cases," say the authors.
"These initiatives have led to improved consistency across assessments, allowed analysis of diagnoses over time, and promoted cohesiveness among autism assessors.
"Ultimately, such measures will help streamline the referral process, reduce waiting times, hasten intervention, and provide a better bridge between assessments and service delivery.
"These strategies potentially provide an alternative model for other states and territories that wish to strengthen and assimilate ASD assessments."
They say the changes have also promoted a more collaborative clinical and research working environment to support local autism research.
The move to improve assessment and monitoring in WA was prompted by recent increases in the prevalence of ASD.
It is estimated that the prevalence of ASDs is six children in every 1000. ASDs are severe developmental conditions that require specialised intervention and lifelong support.
The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.