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I have written several articles for ICD10monitor over the years as we as an industry grapple with ICD-10 compliance. Like many of you, I have become a bit ICD-10-weary, but I have found a new breath of energy in the topic of autism and ICD-10.

Autism is a vague diagnosis to many, and the fact that there is a spectrum of symptoms complicates the clinical picture, and thus could complicate how ICD is applied. I am not going to attempt to be an expert on how to code a complicated diagnosis like autism, but I want to present the importance of the diagnosis to the 1-88 or 1-66 families of children, whichever statistic one chooses. I think it is important to look at where the World Health Organization (WHO) placed the ICD-10 code for autism more than 10 years ago, when the I-10 code was developed. It was a part of the mental health disorders, not a neurological diagnosis. ICD-10 was endorsed by the 43rd World Health Assembly in May 1990 and came into use in WHO member states as of 1994.

Obviously, there has been considerable research, and it continues today around the cause and symptoms and treatment for the children properly diagnosed with autism. Thus, it is critical to ensure the clinical record is documented in detail so the proper ICD-10/Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) codes are applied.

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