Q: How Can I Get Evaluated for Autism as an Adult?
If you’re interested in pursuing an adult autism diagnosis, learn how and where to find a trained specialist near you, and understand which diagnostic tools and methods make a difference.
Q: “Where can I go to get evaluated for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis as an adult? What type of professional or specialist performs an adult autism diagnosis, and what does the process typically look like? What credentials and qualifications matter most?”
Finding a qualified provider to evaluate, diagnose, and treat adult autism is difficult, as many individuals on the spectrum know far too well.
That said, the first step toward seeking an adult autism diagnosis is to find an expert – a psychologist or a psychiatrist – who specializes in diagnosing ASD. Consider focusing first on finding adult psychologists as they, contrary to adult psychiatrists, receive more clinical training and exposure to conditions with early childhood onsets. (To merit an ASD diagnosis, the patient must have experienced symptoms during their development.)
You may be able to find a specialist near you by pursuing:
- A referral from your family doctor
- An Internet search or online medical directory look-up
- Your insurance provider
- Autism organizations you trust
- Local medical centers and universities (major institutions tend to have autism centers and resources – the Center for Autism Research, part of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for example, has an autism “roadmap” to help visitors of all ages)
While there is no “certificate” that qualifies experts to diagnose adult autism, the expert you choose should certainly have some form of training in how to diagnose ASD. They need not have research-level reliability for ASD diagnostic tests, but they do need clinical training with other autism experts.
It is likewise important that the clinician use reliable diagnostic tools that research supports as being effective in making an autism diagnosis. Apart from essentials like the clinical interview, an adult autism assessment is best completed using these tools:
- Detailed developmental histories, which help track how symptoms unfolded over development and whether external factors influenced them. Psychologists are experts at teasing apart and examining these histories. There may be other people in your life, like a parent, a spouse or a sibling, who can contribute to the process by describing your symptoms over time.
- The Social Communication Questionnaire, Autism Spectrum Quotient, Adaptive Behavior Questionnaire, Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 (ADOS) are commonly used. The latter two are the most comprehensive measures available. The ADI-R is a clinical interview with a caregiver or other family member that has known you very well from early childhood. The ADOS includes a clinical interview and observation of your social communication skills and presence of repetitive behaviors that are implicated in ASD.
- Psychiatric assessments for other conditions are commonly used to rule out, confirm, or even uncover other conditions existing alongside ASD.
How to Get Tested for Autism: Next Steps
- Free Download: The Guide to Autism in Adults
- Read: Professional Guidelines for Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Read: ADHD and Adult Autism — Symptoms, Diagnosis & Interventions for Both
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Updated on July 14, 2021