By and large, clinicians diagnose autism in Europe using standards laid out in the International Classification of Diseases. This manual is published by the World Bank and is entirely separate from the DSM under the American Psychiatric Association.
Although there have been some differences in the way symptoms are recognized, the manuals do share much in common. However, the ICD is more widely used around the world than the DSM. Within Europe, psychiatrists from the western portion of the country are more likely to consider ICD standards than Eastern Europe.
The latter area has seen a need for the recognition of autism, particularly in countries such as Russian, Belarus, and Poland.
Although Poland and other Eastern European countries have increased autism awareness from the public at large, the nation has a diagnosis rate of only three out of 10,000 people.
Western Europe has a larger rate of people diagnosed with autism since there's better understanding and awareness of the disorder by the general public and medical community.
When someone receives a diagnosis, it's usually done after a series of tests that begin after a child's first six months, possibly extending to two or more years. Prescriptions aren't commonly used in its treatment. When it's misdiagnosed, treatment could be done with medication, especially in the western portions of the continent.
Some of the tests in a child's early period may involve MRIs and analysis of their gastrointestinal development.
Usually, characteristics are sometimes found in this area when autism is present. For older individuals, the diagnosis could be faster or slower, depending on the country and available medical services. In some areas, it's nonexistent.
The prevalence of autism in Europe is between one and 160 people, or one in 2,000.
In the last three decades, cases of autism have increased throughout the continent. Much of this is due to several factors, with one being better awareness. Awareness has seen a significant increase among people that work in healthcare, particularly in the fields of psychology and child development.
The ICD's changes in criteria over the last ten years are also a big contributor. As a result, more children have become diagnosed with autism at earlier ages than in previous years.
Some researchers suspect that autism prevalence among Europeans could be much higher, mainly from people going undiagnosed and a limitation of services in different countries and regions.
Numerous disparities are evident in the way diagnosis is given and treated among multiple population sets, where people in urban areas are more likely to get adequate care than someone in a small town. Recently, more recognition has been given to autism through scores of initiatives and legislation implementations to fund and treat behavioral disorders.
When looking at Europe's increasing prevalence in some areas and little in others, it shows a clear need for more effort in boosting its awareness, support, and knowledge of what autistic people need for good treatment. Still, aside from North America, Europe does have a larger body of support services for autism than much of the rest of the world.
Europe can be a good place for people with autism to live but changes in the quality of education and support services from country to country can change one's outlook on proper diagnosis and treatment.
Overall, there has been much progress throughout Europe, especially regarding individual support for autistic families. For example, early intervention programs are now more common than they were ten years ago. But there remains a discrepancy in the quality and level of support. A British child living in a predominantly urban environment will have a wider range of treatment options than another child living in the Italian countryside.
People in Europe have the following support services available for autism:
To note, the quality and presence of all service names can change vastly from country to country and region to region. Treatment availability can also change according to age group, residential location, and even gender.