Does This Child Have Autism? Exploring Team Discussions When Diagnosing Autistic Spectrum Disorder

  • Nicole ParishEmail author
Part of the The Language of Mental Health book series (TLMH)


Parish reports a study of the social organisation of team meetings that decide whether to give a child a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is currently little known about the use of multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach, despite the strong recommendations for such an approach to be used when assessing for ASD. Three meetings from two MDTs were recorded, capturing the discussion of 16 children. Conversation analysis revealed three practices that encouraged information to be elaborated upon, even in time-pressured meetings. These ‘opened up’ the team discussions to consider different possible explanations for a child’s presentation. Parish concludes by discussing the clinical implications of these practices, including whether they could reduce the risk of over-diagnosing ASD.



Firstly, I would like to thank the two teams that took part in this study. I appreciate how exposing it must have been to have someone record their work and they demonstrated great practices in collaborative team working. Secondly, I would like to thank my supervisors: Cordet Smart for her encouragement and enthusiasm throughout, and Jacqui Stedmon for her calming and reflective influence. Finally, I would also like to say a big thank you to Dr Lindsay Aikman for all of your help and support.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Child Health PsychologyCardiff and Vale University Health BoardCardiffUK

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