Autism: recognition, referral, diagnosis and management of adults on the autism spectrum

This guideline published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence clearly identifies the most common, recognisable characteristics that could suggest an individual is autistic and provides a full clinical pathway of care for those with the condition.

The recommendations and advice in the NICE guideline aim to inspire greater confidence and awareness among healthcare professionals, and so allow more adults with autism to have their individual needs recognised and receive the support they need.

Download: Autism: recognition, referral, diagnosis and management of adults on the autism spectrum. NICE clinical guideline 142 (2012)

Other relevant documents

Implementation tools

A range of implementation tools have been produced to help support the use of this guideline, including:

Further information

The guideline forms part of the Department of Health’s autism strategy, which has a range of aims, including providing a clear and consistent pathway for diagnosis, and providing help for adults with adults to get into work and keep jobs.

NICE says GPs and other healthcare professionals should consider a diagnostic assessment for possible autism under certain specific conditions.

These are when a person has one or more features including persistent difficulties in social interaction or social communication, stereotypic (rigid and repetitive) behaviours, and resistance to change or restricted interests.

The person should also have one or more of the following features, if a diagnostic assessment for possible autism is to be considered:

  • problems in obtaining or sustaining employment or education
  • difficulties in initiating or sustaining social relationships
  • previous or current contact with mental health or learning disability services
  • a history of a neurodevelopmental condition (including learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or mental disorder.