Authors: Stephen Edwards & Chad Bennett, VIC
Event: 2004 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Dual Disorders
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Autism has traditionally been diagnosed during childhood when criteria for the developmental disorder were clearly satisfied. As intellectual disability (ID) was usually present, life long assistance was commonly provided by public Disability Services (DS) rather than Mental Health Services (MHS). Those children with fewer or less severe ‘autistic’ features were judged not to have autism. Many in this latter group did not have ID but came into contact with the MHS in adolescence or early adulthood, severely disturbed, and were diagnosed with schizophrenia and then receiving long term assistance from the Mental Health Services (MHS). Some of this group are now being given a late diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) either in addition to or instead of the psychotic condition. Whilst the late diagnosis of this developmental condition can assist in explaining a confusing clinical picture, its presence be confused with or confuse the presentation of severe mental illness, especially schizophrenia. This paper will explore recent significant developments in the ASD field. In particular, current clinical practice and service systems for children are examined. This is contrasted with clinical practice and service systems issues for adults in Mental Health Services which relate to the late diagnosis of disorders in the spectrum.