Objective: This project focused on the development of the definition of autism for DSM-IV.
Method: Multiple sites were involved in obtaining information regarding 977 patients with the following clinician-assigned diagnoses: autism (N = 454), other pervasive developmental disorders (N = 240), and other disorders (N = 283). A standard coding system was used, and the raters (N = 125) had a range of experience in the diagnosis of autism. Patterns of agreement among existing diagnostic systems were examined, as was the rationale for inclusion of other disorders within the class of pervasive developmental disorders.
Results: The DSM-III-R definition of autism was found to be overly broad. The proposed ICD-10 definition most closely approximated the clinicians' diagnoses. Inclusion of other disorders within pervasive developmental disorders appeared justified. Partly on the basis of these data, modifications in the ICD-10 definition were made; this and the DSM-IV definition are conceptually identical.
Conclusions: The resulting convergence of the DSM-IV and ICD-10 systems should facilitate both research and clinical service.