DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorder: in search of essential behaviours for diagnosis

Sarah J. Carrington*, Rachel G. Kent, Jarymke Maljaars, Ann Le Couteur, Judith Gould, Lorna Wing, Ilse Noens, Ina van Berckelaer-Onnes, Susan R. Leekam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to identify a set of 'essential' behaviours sufficient for diagnosis of DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Highly discriminating, 'essential' behaviours were identified from the published DSM-5 algorithm developed for the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO). Study 1 identified a reduced item set (48 items) with good predictive validity (as measured using receiver operating characteristic curves) that represented all symptom sub-domains described in the DSM-5 ASD criteria but lacked sensitivity for individuals with higher ability. An adjusted essential item set (54 items; Study 2) had good sensitivity when applied to individuals with higher ability and performance was comparable to the published full DISCO DSM-5 algorithm. Investigation at the item level revealed that the most highly discriminating items predominantly measured social-communication behaviours. This work represents a first attempt to derive a reduced set of behaviours for DSM-5 directly from an existing standardised ASD developmental history interview and has implications for the use of DSM-5 criteria for clinical and research practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-715
Number of pages15
JournalResearch in autism spectrum disorders
Issue number6
Early online date4 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014

Bibliographical note

© 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)


  • abbreviaved
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • diagnosis
  • DSM-5


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