The new diagnostic criteria of autism: implications for research and practice in the middle east and north african region

Salima Y. A. Elzouki and Osama A. Tashani

This article discusses history of autism diagnosis and provides an update of the latest diagnostic criteria. This is essential before starting any research or intervention for people with autism anywhere in the world, particularly in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region where autism diagnosis and public perception about this condition is challenging. We start by defining autism and its diagnostic criteria according to American Psychiatric Society (DSM-5 2013), including an outline of some characteristics of people with autism and some related terms e.g. the notion of a ‘triad of impairments’, ‘Autistic Spectrum Disorder’ (ASD) and its relationship with ‘learning disabilities/difficulties’. We concluded that the latest diagnostic criteria according to DSM-5 2013 is very helpful in terms of treating autism as spectrum of different abilities and allow for designing a bespoke individualised interventional approaches to help them. As far as autism in the MENA region is concerned we argue that the new diagnostic criteria if implemented will result in improving the life of people of autism and their families.

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