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Interdisciplinary Team Evaluation

An Effective Method for the Diagnostic Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Gerdts, Jennifer PhD*; Mancini, James MS, CCC-SLP; Fox, Emily BA; Rhoads, Candace MA; Ward, Tracey MS; Easley, Erin LICSW; Bernier, Raphael A. PhD*

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: May 2018 - Volume 39 - Issue 4 - p 271–281
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000549
Original Articles
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Objective: The objective of this research is to assess the feasibility of an interdisciplinary team diagnostic assessment model for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Method: Medical records from 366 patients evaluated for ASD at the Seattle Children's Autism Center (SCAC) were reviewed. ASD diagnostic outcomes, provider satisfaction, engagement in follow-up care, billed time, and reimbursement amounts were compared in patients evaluated through an interdisciplinary team approach (n = 91) with those seen in multidisciplinary evaluations led by either a psychologist (n = 165) or a physician (n = 110).

Results: Diagnostic determination was made in 90% of patients evaluated through the interdisciplinary team model in a single day. Rates of ASD diagnosis were similar across the 3 tracks, ranging from 61% to 72%. Demographic characteristics did not impact the likelihood of ASD diagnosis. Rates of patient follow-up care and provider satisfaction were significantly higher in interdisciplinary versus multidisciplinary teams. Interdisciplinary team evaluations billed 1.8 fewer hours yet generated more net hourly clinic income compared with psychology-led multidisciplinary evaluations.

Conclusion: An interdisciplinary team approach, focusing on ruling-in or ruling-out ASD, was sufficient to determine ASD diagnosis in most patients seen at the SCAC Interdisciplinary teams generated more clinic income and decreased the time spent in evaluation compared with a psychology-led approach. They did so while maintaining consistency in diagnostic rates, demonstrating increased provider satisfaction and an increased likelihood of engagement in follow-up care.

*Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA;

Seattle Children's Autism Center, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA;

College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Address for reprints: Jennifer Gerdts, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, CHDD Box 357920, Seattle, WA 98195; e-mail:

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

See the Video Abstract at

Received July , 2017

Accepted December , 2017

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