Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, think, and behave. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear early in life.
However, today more and more adults are being diagnosed with autism as it is becoming better understood in the field of psychology. ASD is referred to as a spectrum disorder because of the variety of its signs and symptoms.
As such, no two autistic people have the exact same set of symptoms, and the impact of the disorder may vary greatly among each individual. Some signs and symptoms of autism in adults include difficulty communicating and interacting with others, repetitive behaviors, a narrow or limited set of interests, difficulty making or maintaining relationships, and hardship with verbal and non-verbal communication.
The Process of Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults
There are several reasons why someone might consider getting tested for autism, especially in adulthood. The test may be helpful in understanding oneself better, gain access to support and specific services, and enhance relationships. Screening for autism in adults typically involves a combination of self-report questionnaires, clinical interviews, and observations by trained professionals.
Some common tools and steps for screening include:
- Self-Report Questionnaires: Adults may be asked to complete questionnaires like the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) or the Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R). These questionnaires assess various aspects of autism-related traits and behaviors. In addition, these questionnaires can be helpful in ruling out other developmental differences that are not congruent with autism.
- Clinical Interviews: Trained clinicians or psychologists may conduct interviews to gather information about an individual’s developmental history, social and communication skills, and repetitive behaviors.
- Observations: In some cases, professionals may observe the individual in various social situations to assess their social interactions, communication skills, or repetitive behaviors.
- Input from Family and Friends: Information from close family members, friends, or caregivers can provide valuable insights into an individual’s behavior and developmental history.
- Review of Past Records: Previous educational, medical, or psychological records can provide additional information about an individual’s history and development. The administrator may ask for a release of information to speak with other professionals who are involved in the individual’s care.
Deciding To Test for Autism Is a Personal Choice
It’s important to note that getting tested for autism is a personal decision, and not everyone feels the need to pursue a formal diagnosis. There is no right or wrong path to take. However, for those who suspect they may be on the autism spectrum or are experiencing challenges related to autism traits, seeking assessment can be a valuable step in their journey.
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!