Autism spectrum disorders – the role of the family physician and basic diagnostic principles- a literature review

Austė Bandzaitė1, Arūnė Žičkevičiūtė2, Ugnė Kryžiūtė2

1Lithuanian university of health sciences, Department of Family Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania

2Lithuanian university of health sciences, faculty of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania


Background. Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurological disorder, usually observed before the age of 3 years and lasting throughout life, affecting quality of life not only of the individual himself, but also his family. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder has increased both in Lithuania and in other Western countries. With the ever-increasing need for diagnostics and insufficient competence of family doctors, it is important to review the main diagnostic criteria and emphasize the importance of family medicine specialists in noticing the first symptoms of disease.

The aim. Analyze the articles published in the databases „PubMed“/Medline, Embase, Cochrane on the topic of autism spectrum disorders and present the essential diagnostic principles in a structured manner.

Methods. Selected scientific articles published from 2012 to 2022, which present essential diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder, methods and describe importance of family doctor in diagnostics. Keywords used: „autism spectrum disorder“, „ASD diagnostic“, „general practise“, „primary care“. Results. The main etiology, diagnostic criteria and treatment options were reviewed. The effect on the early diagnosis of the spectrum of autism is based on a detailed patient history, clinical examination and selective MCHAT-R test.

Conclusions. In the family medicine doctor’s practice autism spectrum disorders should be suspected in children with expressed social, speech or play pathological disorders, developmental delay, or any other. Early diagnosis by a physician results in better prognosis in autism spectrum disorders’ management. Caring for a patient with autism spectrum disorders requires a holistic approach and involvement of the multidisciplinary team.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, ASD diagnostics, family doctor.

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