ICD-10 Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Complete Breakdown

Unravel the ICD-10 Autism Spectrum Disorder codes for accurate diagnosis and effective interventions.

judah schiller
Judah Schiller
April 26, 2024
Published On
April 26, 2024

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive patterns of behavior. Accurately diagnosing and classifying ASD is crucial for determining appropriate interventions and support. Two central frameworks guide this process: the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and the ICD-10 classification.

DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5™), provides the current standard for diagnosing ASD. The diagnostic criteria for ASD in the DSM-5 include persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.

The severity of ASD is categorized into three levels based on the degree of social communication impairments and the extent of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior:

Level Description
Level 1 Requiring support
Level 2 Requiring substantial support
Level 3 Requiring very substantial support

The DSM-5 criteria aim to provide a clear, objective framework for diagnosing ASD, facilitating early intervention and appropriate support.

ICD-10 Classification

The International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), is another standard used to diagnose and classify autism. The ICD-10 code for Autism Spectrum Disorder is F84.0.

The ICD-10 code is used by healthcare professionals and researchers to classify and identify individuals with ASD in medical records and statistical reporting. This classification enables the collection of reliable data to monitor trends, evaluate interventions, and assess the impact of policies related to Autism Spectrum Disorder [1].

Understanding both the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and the ICD-10 classification is essential for individuals, families, healthcare providers, and researchers dealing with ASD. These standards provide the foundation for understanding, diagnosing, and managing Autism Spectrum Disorder, contributing to improved outcomes and quality of life for those affected.

Importance of Accurate Diagnosis

The process of properly diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is of paramount importance. It not only impacts the individuals diagnosed but also their families. Accurate diagnosis plays a crucial role in understanding the challenges, implementing support mechanisms, and developing suitable interventions.

Impact on Individuals and Families

The correct identification of ASD using the ICD-10 code, F84.0, allows healthcare professionals and researchers to classify and identify individuals with ASD accurately in medical records and statistical reporting.

The impact of this accuracy extends to individuals and their families. It provides a firm basis from which to explore the challenges that they may face due to the disorder. With an accurate diagnosis, the individuals and their families can attain a deeper understanding of the condition and learn how to navigate the complexities associated with it.

Moreover, a precise diagnosis can also help to alleviate some of the uncertainties associated with ASD. It can provide a clear path for the development of personalized treatment plans and allow families to connect with appropriate resources, support groups, and services specifically designed for those with ASD.

Support and Interventions

The accurate diagnosis of ASD via the ICD-10 classification system also plays an instrumental role in the development and application of support mechanisms and interventions [1].

Upon diagnosis, healthcare professionals can devise a comprehensive plan that addresses the unique needs of those with ASD. This includes targeted therapies, educational strategies, and personalized interventions that consider the individual's specific strengths and weaknesses.

Furthermore, the ICD-10 code for ASD enables the collection of reliable data to monitor trends, evaluate interventions, and assess the impact of policies related to Autism Spectrum Disorder. This information is integral to the continued advancement of effective support and interventions for those with ASD.

Clinicians frequently report at least two ICD-10 codes for ASD; one for the medical diagnosis and one or more for the speech-language disorder(s) being treated [3]. Such detailed coding allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the individual's condition and contributes to the development of a tailored treatment approach.

However, clinicians are advised to consult with each payer for final guidance on billing and coding requirements related to ASD services. Medicaid and private health insurance plans have significant latitude to determine specific coverage of services for ASD, despite most states mandating insurers to cover ASD-related treatment.

In summary, an accurate diagnosis of ASD using the ICD-10 system is the cornerstone of effective support and intervention strategies. It offers a path to understanding for individuals and families and guides healthcare professionals in providing the most effective treatment and support for those living with ASD.

ICD-10 Code for Autism

Navigating the complex world of medical classification can be challenging, especially when it comes to conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10), is a crucial tool in this process, providing specific codes for a wide range of conditions, including ASD.

Code F84.0 Details

The ICD-10 code for Autism Spectrum Disorder is F84.0. This code is used by healthcare professionals and researchers to classify and identify individuals with ASD in medical records and for statistical reporting purposes [1].

ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code F84.0 encompasses conditions such as:

  • Autistic disorder
  • Asperger's syndrome
  • Pervasive developmental disorders
  • Mental, Behavioral, and Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Speech disturbances
  • Social pragmatic communication disorder
  • Rett's syndrome
  • Phelan-McDermid syndrome

These details are available via ICD10data.com.

It’s important to note that reimbursement claims with a date of service on or after October 1, 2015, require the use of ICD-10-CM codes for conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder. This requirement underscores the importance of accurate, up-to-date coding in healthcare settings.

Healthcare and Research Use

The adoption of ICD-10 codes, including F84.0 for ASD, has significant implications for healthcare and research. The use of a standardized code enables the collection of reliable data to monitor trends, evaluate interventions, and assess the impact of policies related to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In healthcare settings, the F84.0 code provides a uniform way to document ASD in patient records, ensuring consistency across different providers and systems. This enables seamless communication among healthcare providers and facilitates continuity of care for individuals with ASD.

In research settings, the F84.0 code allows for the systematic collection and analysis of data related to ASD. This can contribute to our understanding of the prevalence and impact of ASD, the effectiveness of various interventions, and the outcomes for individuals with ASD.

The use of the ICD-10 code for ASD is a key aspect of managing and understanding this complex disorder. By providing a standard way to identify and track ASD, the F84.0 code plays a crucial role in improving care and advancing research for individuals with ASD.

Changes in ICD-10 Codes

The ICD-10 codes for Autism Spectrum Disorder have seen changes over the years. These updates are critical to ensure the codes keep pace with the latest research and understanding of the disorder.

Updates Over the Years

The ICD-10-CM codes for DSM-5 diagnoses, which include Autism Spectrum Disorder, have been updated annually, effective from October 1st of each year. The most recent changes were made in 2022. Prior to that, there were updates in 2021, 2020, 2018, and 2017.

Year Update
2022 Changes to ICD-10-CM codes
2021 Changes to ICD-10-CM codes
2020 Changes to ICD-10-CM codes
2018 Changes to ICD-10-CM codes
2017 Changes to ICD-10-CM codes

These changes are not exclusive to Autism Spectrum Disorder but encompass a wide range of DSM-5 diagnoses. They are part of the American Psychiatric Association's ongoing commitment to refine and update their diagnostic tools to reflect the most current understanding of mental health disorders.

Implications for Diagnosis

These updates have significant implications for diagnosis. The precision of the ICD-10 codes for Autism Spectrum Disorder ensures that individuals receive accurate diagnoses. This, in turn, impacts the treatment and support they receive.

The annual updates also ensure that the codes accurately reflect the latest research and understanding in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is particularly important given the complexity of the disorder and the ongoing advances in research.

It is crucial for healthcare professionals to stay informed about these updates to ensure they are using the most current diagnostic codes. This not only aids in accurate diagnosis but also assists in the application of appropriate treatment and interventions.

Understanding the ICD-10 codes for Autism Spectrum Disorder, along with the changes and updates over the years, is a crucial aspect of diagnosing and treating this complex disorder. It ensures healthcare professionals can provide the most effective support to individuals and their families.

Autism Spectrum Profiles

The International Classification of Diseases, tenth edition (ICD-10), outlines several possible autism profiles under the Pervasive Developmental Disorders category. These profiles include Childhood Autism, Atypical Autism, and Asperger Syndrome [5].

Childhood Autism

Childhood Autism, coded as F84.0 in the ICD-10, is characterized by abnormalities in the development of social interaction, communication, and a restricted repertoire of activities and interests. These abnormal behaviors are typically noticeable before the age of three. Severity can vary significantly among individuals, with some children requiring substantial support.

The DSM-5 manual replaces terms like 'autistic disorder' with 'autism spectrum disorder' and defines it as "persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction" and "restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests," impacting everyday functioning.

Atypical Autism

Atypical Autism, also known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), represents a broad category of individuals who do not fully meet the criteria for other specific disorders but demonstrate impairment in social interaction, communication, or display restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. These symptoms may not be present until later in life, and the level of impairment can range from mild to severe.

The DSM-5 manual now includes a condition called 'social communication disorder', separate from 'autism spectrum disorder', which is diagnosed when an individual exhibits social interaction and communication difficulties without showing restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviours, interests, or activities.

Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome, in the ICD-10, is seen as a part of the autism spectrum but is distinguished by the lack of delay in early language development. Individuals with Asperger Syndrome often exhibit difficulty in social interaction and display restricted, repetitive patterns of interests and activities. However, their linguistic and cognitive development is not significantly delayed.

It's important to note that the DSM-5 has now subsumed Asperger Syndrome under the broader 'autism spectrum disorder'. It provides specifiers to describe associated or additional conditions, such as intellectual impairment, language impairment, genetic conditions, etc., as well as 'severity' levels for social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, ranging from requiring support to requiring very substantial support.

These varied profiles within the autism spectrum, as recognized by the ICD-10, highlight the broad range of experiences and needs of individuals with autism. Understanding these differences is key to providing appropriate support and interventions for each individual.

Diagnostic Tools for Autism

Identification of autism spectrum disorder is a critical aspect of providing the necessary support and intervention for individuals affected. In the diagnostic process, several tools, including DISCO, ADI-R, ADOS, and 3Di, are used to gather relevant information. These tools evaluate current behavior and skills rather than developmental history, aiding in accurate diagnosis.


DISCO (Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders) and ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised) are two tools commonly used in the diagnostic process. They are structured interviews conducted with the caregivers of the individual under evaluation, providing invaluable insight into the individual's behavior, social interaction, communication, and developmental history.

While each tool has its strengths, they are often used in tandem to ensure a comprehensive evaluation. Both DISCO and ADI-R require a trained professional to administer and interpret the results.

ADOS and 3Di Tools

While DISCO and ADI-R provide an in-depth look at an individual's history, the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) focuses on the current behavior and skills of the individual. It is a standardized observational assessment tool used to evaluate social communication, interaction, and play skills in individuals suspected of having autism spectrum disorder.

The ADOS is considered one of the gold standard diagnostic tools for autism spectrum disorder and is widely used by clinicians and researchers. It consists of various activities and tasks designed to elicit specific behaviors related to social communication and interaction. This provides a structured and standardized way to assess individuals across different age ranges and developmental levels [6].

Diagnostic Tool Focus Method
ADOS Current behavior and skills Observational assessment
3Di Developmental history and current behavior Interview-based assessment

The ADOS is administered by trained professionals who observe and rate the individual's behavior during the assessment. The results are then used to determine whether the individual meets the criteria for autism spectrum disorder.

3Di, or Developmental, Dimensional and Diagnostic Interview, is another tool that provides a structured interview-based assessment. It offers a comprehensive evaluation of the individual's developmental history and current behavior.

Together, these diagnostic tools provide a multifaceted approach to diagnosing autism spectrum disorder. By evaluating both developmental history and current behavior, clinicians can gain a comprehensive understanding of the individual's condition, aiding in accurate diagnosis and effective intervention planning.


[1]: https://www.totalcareaba.com/autism/icd-ten-autism-spectrum-disorder

[2]: https://iidc.indiana.edu/irca/learn-about-autism/diagnostic-criteria-for-autism-spectrum-disorder.html

[3]: https://on.asha.org/ldr-asd-codes

[4]: https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm/updates-to-dsm

[5]: https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/diagnosis/diagnostic-criteria/all-audiences

[6]: https://iidc.indiana.edu/irca/learn-about-autism/diagnostic-tools/ados.html