What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ICD-10?

The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10) is a diagnostic classification system used by healthcare professionals to identify and classify diseases, disorders, and other health conditions. In this article, we will discuss ASD and its classification under ICD-10.

Ruben Kesherim
February 29, 2024

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ICD-10?

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

To better comprehend the complexities of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it is essential to gain an understanding of what it entails and the key features associated with it.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects individuals from early childhood and lasts throughout their lives. It is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive or restricted behaviors. ASD encompasses a wide range of symptoms and severity levels, leading to the use of the term "spectrum."

ASD affects individuals in various ways, making each person's experience unique. Some individuals with ASD may have exceptional abilities in specific areas, such as music, art, or mathematics, while others may face challenges in everyday tasks. The exact cause of ASD is still unknown, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Key Features of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The key features of Autism Spectrum Disorder can manifest differently in each individual. However, there are some common characteristics that are often observed:

  1. Social Interaction Challenges: Individuals with ASD may struggle with social interactions, finding it difficult to establish and maintain relationships. They may have difficulty understanding nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions or body language, and may find it challenging to engage in reciprocal conversations.
  2. Communication Difficulties: Communication can be a significant challenge for individuals with ASD. Some individuals may have delayed language development or difficulty expressing their needs and emotions verbally. Others may have a tendency to repeat words or phrases (echolalia) or prefer non-verbal forms of communication.
  3. Repetitive Behaviors and Restricted Interests: Many individuals with ASD engage in repetitive behaviors or have restricted interests. This can include repetitive movements, such as hand-flapping or rocking, as well as a strong preference for specific topics or routines. These behaviors often provide comfort and a sense of predictability.
  4. Sensory Sensitivities: Individuals with ASD may have heightened or reduced sensitivity to sensory stimuli. They may be overly sensitive to certain sounds, lights, textures, or smells, which can lead to discomfort or distress. Conversely, some individuals may have a reduced response to sensory input.

Understanding these key features of Autism Spectrum Disorder is crucial for recognizing and supporting individuals with ASD. By promoting awareness and acceptance, we can create a more inclusive and understanding society for individuals on the autism spectrum.

The Role of ICD-10 in Diagnosing ASD

When it comes to diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), healthcare professionals rely on standardized criteria to ensure accurate and consistent assessments. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) plays a crucial role in this process. Let's take a closer look at what ICD-10 is and how it classifies Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is ICD-10?

ICD-10 is a classification system developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to categorize and code various diseases, disorders, and health conditions. It provides a standardized framework for healthcare professionals to document and communicate diagnoses.

ICD-10 is widely used globally and serves as an important tool in healthcare management, research, and policy-making.

How ICD-10 Classifies Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Within the ICD-10 framework, Autism Spectrum Disorder is classified under the category of "Pervasive Developmental Disorders" (F84). This category encompasses a range of developmental disorders characterized by impaired social interaction, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.

ICD-10 further divides Autism Spectrum Disorder into subcategories based on the severity of symptoms and associated features. These subcategories include:

  1. Childhood Autism (F84.0): This subcategory is used to classify individuals with severe and pervasive impairments across multiple domains, including social interaction, communication, and behavior.
  2. Atypical Autism (F84.1): Atypical Autism is used to classify individuals who display some, but not all, of the characteristic symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is often used when the presentation does not fully meet the criteria for Childhood Autism.
  3. Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (F84.8): This subcategory is used for individuals who have significant developmental impairments that do not fit into the specific categories mentioned above.

It's important to note that the specific diagnostic criteria and classifications within ICD-10 may vary slightly from other diagnostic manuals, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Healthcare professionals use their clinical judgment and expertise to determine the most appropriate diagnosis based on the individual's presentation.

By using the ICD-10 classification system, healthcare professionals can ensure standardized and consistent diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This allows for accurate communication, research, and comparison of data on a global scale. If you suspect that your child may have ASD, it is essential to seek a professional evaluation from a qualified healthcare provider who can assess and diagnose the condition using recognized diagnostic criteria.

ICD-10 Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder

To accurately diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), healthcare professionals refer to the criteria outlined in the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10). This classification system provides a standardized framework for identifying and categorizing various medical conditions, including ASD.

Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder

ICD-10 defines specific criteria that must be met for an individual to receive a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. These criteria focus on three main areas: social interaction, communication, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior. The following table summarizes the diagnostic criteria for ASD according to ICD-10:

Diagnostic Criteria for ASD (ICD-10)

  • Impairment in reciprocal social interaction
  • Impairment in verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities
  • Onset of symptoms before the age of three years
  • Symptoms causing clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

It's important to note that the severity of symptoms can vary widely among individuals with ASD. ICD-10 does not classify ASD into different severity levels but acknowledges the presence of a spectrum.

Additional Considerations in ICD-10

In addition to the diagnostic criteria mentioned above, there are a few additional considerations outlined in ICD-10 regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder. These considerations help healthcare professionals further understand and assess the condition:

  1. Associated features: ICD-10 recognizes that individuals with ASD may exhibit various associated features, such as intellectual disabilities, language impairments, and epilepsy. These features can coexist with ASD and may require additional attention and support.
  2. Exclusion criteria: ICD-10 specifies certain conditions that should be excluded when diagnosing ASD. These conditions include specific developmental disorders of receptive language, expressive language, mixed receptive-expressive language, and hyperkinetic disorders. Healthcare professionals carefully evaluate and differentiate ASD from other similar conditions to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

By following the diagnostic criteria outlined in ICD-10, healthcare professionals can provide a standardized and reliable diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. This enables effective communication, research, and comparison of data on a global scale. If you suspect that your child may have ASD, seeking professional help is crucial to undergo a comprehensive evaluation and receive appropriate support.

The diagnostic process, involving various assessments and observations, helps healthcare professionals make an accurate diagnosis and develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to your child's unique needs.

Benefits of Using ICD-10 for ASD Diagnosis

The use of the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) for diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) offers several benefits to both healthcare professionals and individuals seeking a diagnosis. Let's explore two key advantages of using ICD-10 for ASD diagnosis.

Standardized Diagnosis

ICD-10 provides a standardized framework for diagnosing ASD, ensuring consistency and accuracy in the diagnostic process. The diagnostic criteria outlined in ICD-10 help healthcare professionals assess individuals for the presence of ASD symptoms and make informed diagnostic decisions.

By using standardized criteria, healthcare professionals can compare and evaluate individuals with ASD symptoms in a consistent manner. This aids in the accurate identification and classification of ASD, promoting reliability and reducing the potential for misdiagnosis.

International Recognition and Comparison

ICD-10 is recognized and used internationally, making it easier to compare and share diagnostic information across different countries and healthcare systems. This global recognition allows for better collaboration and communication among healthcare professionals worldwide.

Using a universally accepted diagnostic tool like ICD-10 enables researchers, clinicians, and organizations to gather and analyze data on ASD prevalence, treatment outcomes, and other important factors. This international perspective enhances our understanding of ASD on a global scale and supports the development of evidence-based interventions and strategies.

In summary, the use of ICD-10 for ASD diagnosis offers standardized criteria and international recognition. This aids in accurate and consistent diagnosis, facilitates collaboration among healthcare professionals, and enhances our understanding of ASD globally.

If you suspect that your child may have ASD, seeking a professional evaluation guided by the ICD-10 criteria is an important step towards obtaining an accurate diagnosis and accessing appropriate support and interventions.

Seeking Professional Help for ASD Diagnosis

When it comes to diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), seeking professional help is essential. Professional evaluation by qualified healthcare providers is crucial for accurate diagnosis and appropriate interventions. In this section, we will explore the importance of professional evaluation and the diagnostic process for ASD.

Importance of Professional Evaluation

Obtaining a professional evaluation is vital for several reasons. Firstly, healthcare providers specializing in developmental disorders have the necessary expertise to assess the various aspects of ASD. They are trained to recognize the behavioral patterns and symptoms associated with the disorder.

Secondly, professional evaluation involves a comprehensive assessment that considers multiple factors. This includes collecting information from parents or caregivers, conducting detailed observations, and utilizing standardized assessment tools. These evaluations provide a holistic view of the individual's development and behavior, aiding in an accurate diagnosis.

Additionally, seeking professional help ensures that other potential conditions or co-occurring disorders are properly evaluated and addressed. It enables healthcare providers to rule out other possible explanations for the observed behaviors and symptoms, ensuring an accurate diagnosis of ASD.

The Diagnostic Process for ASD

The diagnostic process for ASD typically involves several steps, all of which are conducted by healthcare professionals with expertise in developmental disorders. While the exact process may vary, it generally includes the following:

  1. Initial Screening: The healthcare provider conducts a brief screening to determine if further evaluation for ASD is necessary. This may involve questionnaires or checklists completed by the parents or caregivers.
  2. Comprehensive Assessment: If the initial screening raises concerns, a comprehensive assessment is performed. This includes detailed interviews with parents or caregivers to gather information about the individual's development and behavior. Observations of the individual's social interactions, communication skills, and repetitive behaviors are also conducted.
  3. Standardized Assessment Tools: Healthcare providers may use standardized assessment tools specifically designed to evaluate ASD. These tools help in identifying and quantifying the presence of ASD symptoms. Examples of such tools include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R).
  4. Collaboration and Review: The healthcare provider reviews all the gathered information, including the results from standardized assessments, observations, and interviews. They collaborate with other professionals if necessary to ensure a comprehensive evaluation.
  5. Diagnosis and Recommendations: Based on the evaluation findings, the healthcare provider provides a diagnosis of ASD if the criteria are met. They also provide recommendations for appropriate interventions and support services tailored to the individual's needs.

It is important to note that the diagnostic process should be conducted by qualified healthcare professionals experienced in diagnosing ASD. Seeking professional help ensures that the evaluation is thorough, accurate, and provides the necessary guidance for understanding and addressing ASD.

By seeking professional evaluation, parents and caregivers can have confidence in the accuracy of the diagnosis and the subsequent interventions recommended for their child. Early diagnosis and intervention are key in supporting individuals with ASD and promoting their overall well-being.


Is ASD a curable condition?

Currently, there is no cure for ASD. However, early intervention and therapy can significantly improve outcomes for individuals with ASD. Treatment may include behavioral therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and medication to manage symptoms.

How is ASD diagnosed under ICD-10?

Diagnosis of ASD under ICD-10 involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional or specialist trained in diagnosing the disorder. The evaluation may include observation of the individual's behavior and communication skills, as well as interviews with caregivers or family members.

Are there any other diagnostic criteria used for ASD besides ICD-10?

Yes, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is another commonly used diagnostic classification system for ASD. DSM-5 uses similar criteria to ICD-10 but includes additional subtypes such as "Social Communication Disorder" and "Unspecified Communication Disorder."

What are some common misconceptions about ASD?

One common misconception about ASD is that individuals with the disorder lack empathy or emotions. However, this is not true - individuals with ASD can experience a full range of emotions and often have strong emotional connections to their interests or routines.

Another misconception is that all individuals with ASD are nonverbal or have intellectual disabilities. While some individuals with ASD may have these characteristics, many others do not.

Can adults be diagnosed with ASD?

Yes, although diagnosis of ASD in adults can be more challenging than in children because symptoms may present differently or be masked by learned coping mechanisms. It is important for adults who suspect they may have ASD to seek evaluation from a qualified healthcare professional or specialist.


ASD is a complex disorder that affects individuals in different ways and to varying degrees. The classification of ASD under ICD-10 helps healthcare professionals to identify and diagnose the disorder. By understanding the subtypes of ASD and their prevalence, we can better understand the needs of individuals with ASD and provide appropriate support and interventions.


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