What ICD-10 Code is for Autistic Disorder?

Understanding the F84.0 Code for Autistic Disorders

When you receive a diagnosis from a doctor after experiencing symptoms associated with an illness or disease, a code will be attached to the diagnosis. Because of the high number of diagnoses that can be made in a medical setting, healthcare professionals are tasked with assigning codes to disorders to ensure that the care provided is properly reimbursed. In this guide, you’ll learn all there is to know about the ICD-10 code for autistic disorders. 

What Are ICD-10 Medical Codes?

ICD-10 medical codes refer to a system known as the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision. This system is used directly by doctors and physicians to classify every diagnosis they give. The code can also contain the symptoms and treatments associated with the diagnosis. This information is used for claims processing purposes. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) designed this medical coding system to effectively categorize health conditions. The U.S. and many other countries use variations of the ICD-10 system. At the moment, the two variations used throughout the U.S. include ICD-10-PCS and ICD-10-CM. 

Why ICD-10 Medical Codes Are Used

This classification system represents diseases, health conditions, abnormal findings, associated health problems, social circumstances, causes of diseases, injuries, and symptoms. In order for a healthcare professional to obtain reimbursement for the services they provide, ICD-10 codes need to be submitted directly to the payer. Even though other codes show the services that the client receives, ICD-10 codes identify the diagnoses that effectively justify the services that the physician provides. 

What the F84.0 Code Stands For

The F84.0 code refers to an autistic disorder, which can involve:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Infantile psychosis
  • Infantile autism
  • Kanner’s syndrome

These codes can be comprised of anywhere from three to seven characters. Each code starts with a single alpha character, which tells the physician the chapter that the code is classified in. The next two characters are always numbers, while the fourth through seventh characters can be either letters or numbers. 

Asperger syndrome has an F84.5 code, which makes it slightly different from the other conditions that make up an autistic disorder. More diagnostic information is given when more characters are used in the code. 

What Is an Autistic Disorder?

The autistic disorder described with the F84.0 code is one that usually begins during childhood. In most cases, it comes with impaired or abnormal development in regard to communication and social interaction. Interest and activity levels can also be restricted. The severity of the disorder depends on the age and developmental level of the affected individual. 

The communication and social interaction impairments are displayed as patterns of stereotyped or repetitive behaviors. Children who are diagnosed with an autistic disorder can also show the same patterns with the activities they take part in. Most developmental delays with language and social interaction start before the child reaches three years old. 

There are many symptoms associated with autism. For example, children who are affected by autism might have difficulties holding a conversation. They can also say the same phrase or sentence repeatedly in an attempt to calm themselves. 

Many healthcare professionals view autism as a type of spectrum disorder. The reason why Asperger syndrome isn’t part of the F84.0 code is because it’s considered a less severe version of the autistic disorder. 

At the moment, there’s no known cause of autism. The disorder will also last throughout the affected individual’s lifetime. There aren’t any known cures. On the other hand, certain treatments can help mitigate symptoms. The various treatments available to people who are experiencing an autistic disorder include everything from medicine to behavioral therapy. Treatment is most effective when it starts early. 

Symptoms of Autistic Disorder

There are many clear signs and symptoms associated with an autistic disorder. These symptoms can be categorized as social interaction and communication issues, repetitive interests or behaviors, and related characteristics. Many social interaction and communication skills are difficult for people who receive an autistic disorder diagnosis. The social signs of an autistic disorder include:

  • Has issues keeping contact with others
  • Doesn’t display facial expressions by nine months old
  • Won’t respond to their name by nine months old
  • Uses no or few gestures by the time they are 12 months old
  • Won’t play basic interactive games by 12 months old
  • Doesn’t share interests with infants their age by 15 months old
  • Doesn’t seem to notice when someone else is upset or hurt by 24 months old
  • Won’t show you something that interests them by 18 months old
  • Doesn’t join or notice other children by 36 months old
  • Won’t act like a superhero, firefighter, or other character while playing by 48 months old
  • Doesn’t dance or sing by 60 months old

When it comes to repetitive interests or behaviors, people who have been diagnosed with an autistic disorder can display interests or behaviors that appear unusual. These behaviors differ from social interaction and communication. The types of behaviors you should be on the lookout for include:

  • Repeats different phrases and words for a long time
  • Only plays with toys in the same way
  • Lines up objects or toys whenever they have the opportunity
  • Becomes upset when someone changes the order of things they’ve lined up
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Becomes upset at even the smallest of changes
  • Adheres to highly specific routines
  • Focuses on small parts of objects
  • Reacts unusually to the way that different things look, smell, sound, or taste
  • Rocks body, spins in circles, or flaps hands

Some of the additional characteristics that people with an autistic disorder can have include:

  • Hyperactive, inattentive, or impulsive behaviors
  • Delayed movement and language skills
  • Seizure disorder or epilepsy
  • Delayed learning or cognitive skills
  • Either doesn’t show much fear or shows too much fear
  • Excessive worry, stress, or anxiety
  • Odd emotional reactions
  • Unusual sleeping or eating habits
  • Regular gastrointestinal issues

Potential Treatments

Even though there isn’t a cure for autistic disorder, there are many treatments that an affected individual can benefit from, the primary of which include the following:

  • Early intervention
  • Behavioral management therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Joint attention therapy
  • Medication treatment
  • Educational and school-based therapies
  • Speech-language therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Parent-meditated therapy
  • Social skills training

Since autistic disorder is a spectrum disorder, it’s important to note that there are many different treatments and therapies that can be administered to help affected individuals manage their symptoms. 

Behavior Management Therapy

Behavior management therapy is a type of treatment that focuses on reinforcing good behaviors and getting rid of unwanted ones. This therapy also helps caregivers understand the steps they can take before and during episodes of unwanted behaviors. 

This form of therapy usually centers around applied behavior analysis, which aims to measure how children progress in improving their skills. There are different kinds of applied behavior analysis that can be used in the treatment of autistic disorders. For example, clients can receive Pivotal Response Training (PRT), which is administered in the child’s normal environment. The purpose of this training is to help children improve their most pivotal skills, which include everything from communicating to becoming motivated. 

People with autistic disorders can also receive Positive Behavioral Support (PBS), which strives to identify why a child is engaging in problem behavior. During treatment, healthcare professionals focus on changing children’s environments and teaching them different skills that can help them adopt more positive behaviors. 

Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) is a form of behavior management therapy that teaches numerous skills in a regimented manner that involves simple steps. When children accomplish each step, their teacher will give them positive feedback. Early Intensive Behavioral Therapy (EIBI) can also be given. This therapy offers customized behavioral instruction to children who are still very young. 

Joint Attention Therapy

People who have been diagnosed with autistic disorders can also have issues with joint attention, which involves focusing on an area or object with someone else. An example of joint attention is following someone’s finger when they point to an object in the distance. 

Joint attention therapy aims to improve a person’s joint attention. Keep in mind that this skill is known to be important for language learning and communication. The therapy that a client can receive focuses on showing, pointing, and coordinating looks between an object and a person. It’s believed that any improvements made during this type of therapy can last for many years. 

Social Skills Training

Social skills training is designed to teach affected individuals the types of skills they require to properly interact with other people. During training, clients will repeat positive behaviors, after which they will receive positive reinforcement from their instructors. Some of the social skills that can be improved during this type of training include being a good sport after a loss, properly conversing with others, and reacting calmly to teasing. 

Parent-Mediated Therapy

During this therapy, parents will learn some of the most useful therapy techniques that professionals often administer. The goal of this therapy is to help parents provide some therapies to their children when they’re at home or on vacation. 

By getting the parents involved with the treatment process, children who have an autistic disorder will be given training and reinforcement continuously. Even if children have yet to be diagnosed with this disorder, their parents can provide this therapy. The types of therapies that are taught during parent-mediated therapy include social communication therapy, joint attention therapy, and behavioral therapy. 

Why Accurate ICD-10 Medical Codes Are Important

ICD-10 medical codes have proven to be invaluable in diagnosing and treating clients. Healthcare consultants and providers who use these codes have a more comprehensive understanding of their clients and the various conditions they suffer from. With these codes, providers are able to make better treatment decisions with more up-to-date information. 

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