Articles On Autism Diagnosis
Autism spectrum disorder is usually diagnosed in young children. But what if you think you may be on the spectrum, and it never got diagnosed?
Parents of very young children are on the lookout for classic symptoms like lack of eye contact, repetitive movements, and sensory issues. And all kids are screened for these signs at their 18- and 24-month pediatrician well-child visits, so most cases of autism spectrum disorder are diagnosed by age 2.
That wasnât always the case. Not too long ago, some kids who would be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder today might have been labeled as âdifficultâ or âlearning disabled,â and may not have gotten the help they needed.
Now, those children are adults and they or their family members may wonder if they might have ASD.
Ways A Formal Diagnosis May Benefit You:
- You would have legal rights to accommodations in school, at work, in healthcare, or in other settings.
- You may get a better understanding of yourself.
- Your healthcare providers, including mental health professionals like counselors and therapists, may be able to provide better service to you.
- You may get peace of mind from a professional confirmation of your experiences.
- You may get new ideas for how to make better use of your strengths to handle your challenges.
- It may help your family members, friends, and other people you know to understand and support you better.
- You may qualify for benefits and services for people who have an ASD diagnosis.
- You may qualify for special programs for people with disabilities, such as scholarships or incentives to increase workplace diversity.
Signs And Characteristics Checklist
If youre reading this page, you may be thinking that you, your partner, or someone you know or love is showing some of the signs or characteristics of autism.
These signs cover a range of human behaviour from social communication and social interaction, to restricted, repetitive and sensory processing.
Note that the information below is just a list of some of the common signs and characteristics of autism.
It is unlikely that an adult will display all of these characteristics, and its important to remember, only a qualified professional can carry out an assessment for autism.
Some of the characteristics that adults with an autism diagnosis commonly report, include:
Recommended Reading: Is Autism Classed As Special Needs
When The Diagnosis Is Not Autism
Other disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, social communication disorder, or social anxiety can sometimes look like autism. If doctors do pick up on these other disorders, they can recommend appropriate therapy and/or medication.
Read what it’s like to be married to someone with Asperger syndrome.
Why Does My Child Need Autism Spectrum Disorder Screening
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for ASD at their 18-month and 24-month well-child checkups.
Your child may need screening at an earlier age if he or she has symptoms of ASD. Autism symptoms may include:
- Not making eye contact with others
- Not responding to a parent’s smile or other gestures
- A delay in learning to talk. Some children may repeat words without understanding their meaning.
- Repeated body movements such as rocking, spinning, or flapping of hands
- Obsession with specific toys or objects
- Trouble with change in routine
Older children and adults may also need screening if they have autism symptoms and were not diagnosed as babies. These symptoms may include:
- Trouble communicating
- Feeling overwhelmed in social situations
- Repeated body movements
- Extreme interest in specific topics
Also Check: Is Autism A Chromosomal Abnormality
Diagnosis In Young Children
Diagnosis in young children is often a two-stage process.
Stage 1: General Developmental Screening During Well-Child Checkups
Every child should receive well-child check-ups with a pediatrician or an early childhood health care provider. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for developmental delays at their 9-, 18-, and 24- or 30-month well-child visits and specifically for autism at their 18- and 24-month well-child visits. Additional screening might be needed if a child is at high risk for ASD or developmental problems. Those at high risk include children who have a family member with ASD, have some ASD behaviors, have older parents, have certain genetic conditions, or who were born at a very low birth weight.
Parents experiences and concerns are very important in the screening process for young children. Sometimes the doctor will ask parents questions about the childs behaviors and combine those answers with information from ASD screening tools, and with his or her observations of the child. Read more about screening instruments on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Children who show developmental problems during this screening process will be referred for a second stage of evaluation.
Stage 2: Additional Evaluation
This second evaluation is with a team of doctors and other health professionals who are experienced in diagnosing ASD.
This team may include:
The evaluation may assess:
- Blood tests
Adult Symptoms Of Autism
Potential symptoms of autism in adults, which can help you screen whether you might be autistic or not, include:
- Trouble understanding what others are thinking or feeling.
- Being confused by idioms or expressions, such as dont count your chickens before they hatch.
- Inventing your own words or expressions to describe things.
- Wanting to have a few close friends or one best friend, but never maintaining those relationships and being unable to understand why they do not last.
- Trouble regulating your emotions.
- Difficulty managing the natural give and take of a conversation. Instead, you talk more about your favorite subject or take focus in the conversation if the topic is something you understand.
- Participating in solo activities in your leisure time or participating in a limited range of activities.
- Strict consistency to daily or weekly routines and extreme difficulty when there are changes.
- Discomfort looking others in the eye, preferring instead to look at a wall, your shoes, or somewhere else so you can listen better.
- Being clumsy, bumping into things, dropping things, or tripping over your own feet frequently.
If these and other symptoms of autism feel very familiar, find a therapist who specializes in autism, or ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist. These professionals can help you get the right treatment based on your symptom severity.
Read Also: How Young Can You Detect Autism
About This Autism Test For Adults
This Computer adaptive Autism quiz for Adults has approximately 40 carefully crafted questions that are intelligently selected by our system from a large question bank, based on your age and gender. It would take a good 8 to 12 minutes to complete . There is no time limit.
At the end of this test, you will get a detailed report with your Autism Adults Quotient and a segmented analysis of where you show strong Autism symptoms as an adult. It would be worth your time! And fun too!
What Online Tests Can Tell You
Online screening tools can’t substitute for a full diagnostic team, but they can suggest that further testing and observation would be a good idea. They can also help provide a better understanding of the symptoms of autism. Use online tests to:
- Quickly get a clearer understanding of what autism symptoms look like
- Answer questions to help you determine whether there are red flags for autism
Of course, it’s perfectly possible to take a poorly constructed online quiz and find yourself worried unnecessarily. That’s why it’s best to select from one of the options listed in this article or research any other test carefully to ensure it’s been properly created.
Also Check: How Are You Diagnosed With Autism
Diagnosis Of Autism In Adults
There are currently no standard diagnostic criteria for adults with suspected ASD, but they are in development.
In the meantime, clinicians primarily diagnose adults with ASD through a series of in-person observations and interactions. They also take into consideration any symptoms the person reports experiencing.
If youre interested in being evaluated for ASD, begin with your family doctor, who will evaluate you to be certain that there isnt an underlying physical illness accounting for your behaviors. Your doctor may then refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for in-depth assessment.
The clinician will want to talk with you about any issues you have regarding communication, emotions, behavioral patterns, range of interests, and more. Youll answer questions about your childhood, and your clinician might request to speak with your parents or other older family members to gain their perspectives about your lifelong behavior patterns.
If the diagnostic criteria for children are being used for reference, your clinician can ask your parent questions from that list, relying on their memories of you as a child for further information.
If your clinician determines that you didnt display symptoms of ASD in childhood, but instead began experiencing symptoms as a teen or adult, you may be evaluated for other possible mental health or affective disorders.
Because most autism diagnoses are made in children, it could be a challenge to find a provider who will diagnose adults.
I Have Been Diagnosed With Autism What Next
If you are diagnosed with autism following your assessment you may have a lot of questions. Chances are you will want to learn more about autism, want to know how to access services and support, and perhaps join a support group for autism.
Post-diagnostic support is important. Your assessor, or the organisation that you were assessed in, may be able to offer follow-up services after your diagnosis and might be able to answer your questions and point you towards support services.
For example, you may be able to access:
- A post diagnostic meeting providing information about what autism is, supports and services and strategies and interventions.
- Training and workshops to learn more about autism.
- Services such as counselling, a psychologist or other professionals.
- An online support group or social group for adults diagnosed with autism.
- Vocational support for issues around employment.
You can learn more about support and services available to you in our Support for adults with autism page.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Find Out If Your Child Has Autism
Why Positive Results May Be Incorrect
If one or more online tests suggests autism, it’s important to remember that your findings may not be correct.
While it is possible to complete quizzes and tests at home, nonexperts may answer incorrectly because they don’t have the knowledge or experience to know what the normal range of child development or adult behavior looks like.
In addition, many disorders have symptoms similar to particular aspects of autism. For example:
- A child may not turn to you when you speak or respond to their name because they are hard of hearing.
- There are many reasons children may be late talkers these include hearing issues, apraxia of speech, and other developmental disorders.
- Many people have sensory dysfunction without having autism.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and several other developmental disorders look quite similar to high-functioning autism it can be hard for a nonexpert to tell the difference in some cases.
- Very high functioning individuals may test negative for autism in online tests but still be diagnosable by experts.
Living With An Autism Diagnosis
Receiving an ASD diagnosis as an adult could mean a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to the world. And it can help you learn how to better work with your strengths and strengthen areas of your life that are challenging.
Getting diagnosed can help you gain a different perspective on your childhood. It can also help those around you to understand and empathize more with your unique characteristics.
Better understanding the set of challenges you face can help you find new and inventive ways to work with or around those challenges. You can also work with your clinician and your family to seek treatments that may be right for you.
Also Check: What Do Autistic Adults Do For A Living
How Adults Can Interpret This Autism Test Score
Though the score patterns may differ from person to person, here is a rough indicator of what the scores mean
The Autism test score calculation uses a complex algorithm that takes into account your age, gender and your responses to the submission. Please note that this is not a definitive diagnosis of Autism and we strongly recommend you seek independent professional opinion.
Note: Lower the score, lesser the chances of being diagnosed with Autism
Score of 0 to 320 means No Autism. Your cognitive, social and behavioral patterns seem to be fine. It is highly unlikely that you have any form of Autism. The results you have entered indicate signs of a mentally healthy and socially cognitive adult. Though your responses have not indicated any concerning symptoms of Autism, there may be some minor traits of ADHD. You may need to take a separate test for that.
Test Score of 321 to 885 means Less than 20% chance of Autism. Though you exhibit some very mild Autistic symptoms, there is no cause for immediate concerns. You are pretty much on the safe zone as the symptoms you display vary significantly from one person to another. At this moment, there are no red flags though you need to keep and eye out for those areas where you show strong Autism symptoms.The detailed report, that you would have received as an email attachment, will tell you exactly which areas of you need to monitor.
Conducting An Adult Autism Evaluation
Because of these limitations, the evaluation of an adult has to lean heavily on direct observation. This will be in the context of a discussion between the clinician and the patient about current challenges in the areas of social interaction and communication, sensory issues and restricted interests or repetitive behaviors.
However, some higher functioning adults on the autism spectrum become very resourceful in developing strategies to compensate for their disabilities. Clearly, this makes a diagnosis based on observation much more difficult.
But diagnosis remains important even when for those who have learned to hide their symptoms because they may still struggle in their everyday lives and interactions.
In these cases, its important to explore the lifelong presence of related developmental issues. In particular, its critical to get detailed information about early childhood. Sometimes this clearly reveals an early development that fits with a diagnosis of ASD.
While our diagnostic checklists are designed for children, I find that they can be useful as we explore an adults childhood development. In particular, I sometimes interview older relatives such as parents who can recall the patients early childhood in some detail. Often they can answer questions from diagnostic checklists and, so, inform a possible diagnosis. Clearly, this is not possible when there isnt an older relative available for a reliable report.
What Is An Affective Disorder
Affective disorders are a set of psychiatric disorders, also called mood disorders.
The main types of affective disorders are depression and bipolar disorder. Symptoms vary by individual and can range from mild to severe.
A psychiatrist or other trained mental health professional can diagnose an affective disorder. This is done with a psychiatric evaluation.
Affective disorders can be disruptive to your life. However, there are effective treatments available, including both medication and psychotherapy.
The two main types of affective disorders are depression and bipolar disorder. Each includes subtypes and variations in severity.
What Kind Of Testing Is Involved
In order to ensure we have a complete understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of a person with ASD, we may recommend a variety of assessment methods, including interviews and observation as well as cognitive, adaptive, emotional/behavior/personality, and achievement testing. We will use a personalized testing battery to help determine whether an individual will meet the diagnostic criteria for ASD. We work with patients and parents to gather all of the necessary information to make an informed and accurate diagnosis. We will also work with you to create a practical plan for moving forward with goals to improve a childs learning experience, and help patients of all ages achieve their personal, professional, and educational goals.
If you are looking for online autism testing, please click here.
Read Also: How To Get A Child With Autism To Eat
Online Tests And Video Observations For Infants And Children
Most of the time, autism is diagnosed in children under the age of 3. Thus, most online tests, quizzes, and observations are designed for young childrenand, of course, must be filled out by their parents.
It’s important to remember that parent observations may be biased or simply incorrect. Therefore, while parental input is very important, it cannot substitute for professional observation of the child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers direct access to many of the most common tools used to diagnose young children. The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers-R/F is the gold standard of parent interview questionnaires. It’s a 20-item parent-completed checklist with yes/no questions about early signs of ASD.
If the M-CHAT seems to confirm your concerns, you can also peruse other related tests, such as the Survey of Well-Being of Young Children : Parent’s Observations of Social Interactions , Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children , and Social Communication Questionnaire .
Dr. Michelle Turner at Cambridge University developed the Repetitive Behaviour Questionnaire , a 33-item parent questionnaire designed to measure children’s repetitive behaviors. Like the adult RBQ listed above, it’s a validated online tool for identifying one common sign of autism: repetitive behaviors. You can find links to all the RBQ tests online.
How Can I Get Evaluated For A Diagnosis
Typically the first step is to find someone who can make the diagnosis in adults. Here’s a list of kinds of professionals who can diagnose individuals on the autistic spectrum.
- Psychiatrists or other medical doctors with expertise in ASD
- Psychologists and neuropsychologists
If you need help finding someone who can make a diagnosis, here are some ideas:
- Ask your primary care physician
- Ask someone you know and trust
- Contact a local autism related group
- Search the Internet
- Contact your student health services department if you’re a student
- Contact your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to help you with getting evaluated for a diagnosis, especially if you are having trouble finding or keeping employment
- Check if there is an autism clinic or autism center in your area. If so, call or check their web site to find out if it has services for adults.
If you have any family, friends, or acquaintances whom you trust, you might ask them if they can recommend a psychologist or other professional who can diagnose autism. Many people find it helpful to mention that they are especially interested in seeing a professional who has a good reputation for working with adults on the autism spectrum.
You can ask, “I am wondering if you know of any professionals who diagnose autism and have a good reputation for working with adults?”
Recommended Reading: Can You Hypnotize An Autistic Person