DISCO Research

DISCO Research

The Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders

In 2002 with colleagues Lorna Wing and Judith Gould we published the original research on the DISCO. In the last 5 years we have been busy expanding our work with the DISCO. Our work is sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Welsh Government and by WARC foundation funding. We have an active collaboration with colleagues K-U Leuven University (Prof Ilse Noens and Dr Jarymke Maljaars) with Prof Ina van Berckelaer-Onnes, Leiden University and with Tokio Uchiyama in Fukushima University, Japan. Our work with the DISCO has further extended into the development of questionnaire measures such as the Repetitive Behaviour Questionnaire-2 RBQ-2, with our colleagues at Newcastle University and Durham Universities (see below).

You can download a pdf list of publications about the DISCO publications

Here is more information about our DISCO research using DSM-5

DSM-5:  We used the DISCO to test DSM-5 criteria. As a result, the DISCO now has a DSM-5 algorithm that can be used by clinicians. Download the research led by Kent & Carrington below.

Kent, R. G., Carrington, S. J., Le Couteur, A., Gould, J., Wing, L., Maljaars, J., Noens, I., van Berckelaer-Onnes, I. and Leekam, S. R. (2013). Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder: who will get a DSM-5 diagnosis?Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(11), 1242-1250. (10.1111/jcpp.12085)

DISCO-Abbreviated: We have abbreviated the DISCO and published the abbreviated items for DSM-5 in a series of new studies led by Sarah Carrington. The abbreviated version of the DSM-5 algorithms can now be used. Abbreviated versions of ICD-10 and other algorithms are also available. We also have identified a 14-item signposting set. Download below

Carrington, S. J., Kent, R. G., Maljaars, J., Le Couteur, A., Gould, J., Wing, L., Noens, I., Van Berckelaer-Onnes, I. and Leekam, S. R. (2014). DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorder: In search of essential behaviours for diagnosisResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8(6), 701-715. (10.1016/j.rasd.2014.03.017)

Carrington, S. J., Leekam, S. R., Kent, R. G., Maljaars, J., Gould, J., Wing, L., Le Couteur, A. and Van Berckelaer-Onnes, I. (2015). Signposting for diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder using the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO) Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 9, 45-52. (10.1016/j.rasd.2014.10.003)

Rachel Kent’s PhD

Kent, R. G. (2014) Measuring autism spectrum disorder: associated features and diagnostic criteria. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University, completed 2014)



In the last two years we have been working with the Welsh Government to develop training materials for the training NHS professionals. You can read about this work in our Research Highlight (click above and scroll down to the highlight)

2013 highlight: Wales NHS ASD Adults Diagnostic Network adopts DISCO ‘family’

You can also read the evaluation report about this training here


Questionnaire measures

As part of our ESRC grant on repetitive behaviours we have used items from the DISCO to create questionnaires. Our aim in the future is to be able to connect together these questionnaires with the same items in the DISCO interview. The 20-item RBQ-2 questionnaire on repetitive behaviours was developed with our colleagues in Newcastle and Durham. The RBQ-2 is available here  http://research.ncl.ac.uk/cargo-ne/RBQ.html

PhD student, Sarah Barrett, is currently developing a self-report version of the RBQ-2 (the RBQ-2A for adults, while Rachel Kent (above) has developed a self-report questionnaire from the sensory items in the DISCO (download her thesis above).

Comparing Diagnostic Measures

Finally we have featured the DISCO together with the ADI-R and the 3di in an online seminar of questions and answers from their authors. You can find this here;


Additional information

Summary of DSM-5 research

Our study (click here to read) used different ways of combining the rules for a DSM-5 diagnosis. It also tested the DSM-5 criteria on children and adults with different ability levels.  The results showed that regardless of age, there is consistency in outcome and a convergence between the previous criteria for ASD and the new criteria.  Using the optimal rules for diagnosis described in the study, we found that of the 397 participants in the study, 93% of those who received a clinical diagnosis of ICD-10 (N=278) also received a diagnosis of ASD according to DSM-5. In addition, in a sample of 200 cases of varying age and ability, we found that 90% of the 89 individuals with a diagnosis of Gillberg’s Asperger’s syndrome (Gillberg et al., 2001), also qualified for a diagnosis of DSM-5 ASD (Kent, 2013).

Click here to download DSM-5 paper abstract 

Click here to download DSM-5 paper

Click here to download DSM-5 publication frequently asked questions and answers

Click here to read DSM-5 DSM-5 Commentary by Sue Leekam.1

Click here to read DSM-5 DSM-5 publication lay summary