How to Get Tested for Autism as an Adult

Autistic people being mathematical thinkers is a stereotype and is not always true; some autistic people are bad at mathematical or scientific topics, but they can be incredible at other ones . The “high-functioning” and “low-functioning” labels are sometimes used to describe autistic people. However, both autistic advocates and experts warn that these labels overlook the complexities of people’s needs and skills. Keep in mind during these difficult times that most children with ASD will make significant progress in overall function. Some children with ASD can do exceptionally well and may even remain in a regular education classroom. Many will have meaningful relationships with family and peers and achieve a good level of independence as adults. Researchers know that formal testing today struggles to detect autism in adults in part because adults, especially women, have learned to mask so well.

When a screening tool suggests developmental delays or signs of autism, your child’s pediatrician may refer you to a specialist. This can include a child psychologist or developmental pediatrician. The AAP also recommends specifically screening for autism at the 18- and 24-month visits.

Research shows that people with autism are more likely to identify as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community than people who don’t have it. People in this group who also have autism are more likely to face discrimination, issues with getting medical care, violence, and cultural stigmas. This can create greater mental health complications for LGBTQIA+ individuals who are autistic and already at a higher risk for these complications.

How Does Autism Affect Sex and Intimacy?

Read more about Music Therapy for Autism here.

Repetitive behavior

They can live happy and functional lives, using alternative communication such as typing, sign language, or picture exchange. Early intervention can help an autistic child learn how to use these tools.

A Rise in Autism Cases

While it can help you understand more about where you might be on the spectrum, Baron-Cohen doesn’t suggest the test as an official diagnosis. Some doctors may want to speak with one of your parents or siblings to get a better idea of what you were like as a kid. Then in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association grouped all autism-related disorders together as ASD. Sensory integration therapy is used to improve symptoms of sensory integration dysfunction. Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations.

It can sometimes be easier for an individual with autism to socialize via social networking than through the more traditional methods. Making friends or communicating with others online can help him or her work on the skills that might translate at school, work or out in the community.

CDC estimates that an average of 1 in 36 children in the U.S. has ASD or autism. Typically, the cost of obtaining a diagnosis without insurance, whether you are a child or an adult, is thousands of dollars. Many, if not most, psychologists who do diagnostic testing do not take insurance. When I went through the diagnosis process for autism, I faced a number of challenges, challenges that researchers identify as part of the problem with helping the lost generation. For example, girls show autistic special interests, but theirs might be in people or animals. Researchers give examples of music groups and horses—my own special interest as a child. Boys, on the other hand, tend to gravitate toward objects such as models or Lego.

It’s also common for autism in children to be misdiagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder since ADHD can also cause difficulty with communication skills and repetitive behavior. Parents and doctors sometimes miss the symptoms of autism in children who are “high functioning”—meaning they’re able to move through the world without assistance. You may hear this referred to as Asperger’s syndrome, a formal diagnosis that is now categorized under the broader umbrella of ASD. In recent years, more people are embracing the idea of neurodiversity—the concept that some people have neurological differences and those differences should be valued rather than “corrected”. Still, a diagnosis of autism as an adult can come as an unwanted surprise. You may even experience denial or anxiety over the diagnosis. On the other hand, if you’ve long suspected that you have ASD or some other condition that sets you apart from your peers, a diagnosis can come as a relief.

Although conforming to social norms was sometimes a way to connect, it was also a way to mitigate negative reactions. One participant described it as knowing what to say and do, but also being mindful of what not to say and do.

Others found friendship through their interests in the creative arts, such as one young woman who spent a lot of time drawing and shared these drawings with her best friend through a website. In this case, her friend was also on the autism spectrum but the focus was on their art and video chatting with each other. Another woman described a stark contrast between the social support and friendship she had found at her college and her current experiences in graduate school. The college she attended had an extensive autism support program where she felt accepted and understood, but at graduate school she felt excluded from her fellow students. To describe the perspectives of young adults on the autism spectrum about how they seek and make friends and explore the diverse ways that some develop satisfying friendships despite social difficulties. However, some higher functioning adults on the autism spectrum become very resourceful in developing strategies to compensate for their disabilities.