How to Test for (Diagnose) Adult Autism

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The diagnosis of autism is difficult because there are many different ways to identify the condition. These include checking for difficulties with social interaction and communication, as well as typical development in language, motor skills and receptive or expressive language.
Introduction: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects how people communicate, interact socially, understand their surroundings and behave. ASD can present differently at various stages of life ranging from infancy through adulthood.

The “adult autism test” is a diagnostic tool that can be used to determine whether a person has autism. The test is typically administered by a psychologist or psychiatrist.


Adults may be diagnosed with autism using a variety of tests, but there is no one, widely acknowledged professional method for doing so. Instead, after reading other people’s firsthand tales of autism and learning more about the signs of autism, many individuals must see their doctor or therapist.

People who are diagnosed later in adulthood may have lesser symptoms than those who are diagnosed as youngsters. Communication, socialization, cognition, and motor abilities will continue to be a challenge for them. As a consequence, behavior treatment will continue to be beneficial to them.

Better Criteria for Diagnosis

Autism spectrum disease (ASD), sometimes known as autism, is a developmental illness that lacks a hereditary component that may be detected in babies.

Autism is often diagnosed based on behavioral differences between those with autism and those who are neurotypical. This necessitates observable behavioral changes. Because autism is a spectrum condition, it has a wide variety of symptoms that may be mild to severe. Some symptoms may never appear, making an accurate diagnosis difficult.

Several illnesses, such as Asperger’s syndrome, were included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as part of ASD. Clinicians have improved their capacity to identify autism in children and adults as a result of this change.

Autism affects one out of every 54 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate has risen significantly, but this is not due to an increase in the number of infants born with autism. It’s because the illness’s diagnostic criteria have highlighted how the ailment would seem to pediatricians, giving them a better understanding of the condition. This enables them to reach more accurate findings and provide children with the assistance they need sooner.

Adults with Autism: Being Diagnosed Late in Life Is Difficult

More individuals are being diagnosed with autism later in life as a result of changes to the criteria of autism in both the DSM-5 and its predecessor, the DSM-IV.

People who are on the autism spectrum but are not diagnosed until maturity often have lesser symptoms. They may feel as if they don’t fit in; they may question why they can’t keep friendships or relationships together; or they may be diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder like depression or anxiety, which arose as a result of social isolation or communication difficulties with others.

Adults who may have gotten various diagnoses in childhood may be re-diagnosed later in life as a result of updated diagnostic criteria for autism. Some persons may have tried to conceal their symptoms from others in order to fit in, and as a result, their communication and socializing issues remained undiagnosed.

As a result of the more established practice of testing children for indicators of autism, many individuals on the autism spectrum end up self-diagnosing. They then seek assistance from a doctor or therapist who can provide a proper diagnosis. A medical diagnosis is required before receiving the appropriate behavior treatment to comprehend and control symptoms.

How Do Adults Find Out If They’re on the Autism Spectrum?

According to a recent CDC research, 2.2 percent of people in the United States are on the autistic spectrum. This data was derived from estimates of how many children have been diagnosed with autism or a condition that the DSM-5 currently classifies as autism.

It’s possible that more people with autism may be identified later in life. However, since there are few screening methods intended expressly for adults, many medical professionals depend on talking about childhood events or information acquired by their client when self-diagnosing, which they may elaborate on.

If you have autism as an adult, you may have:

  • As a youngster, you were labeled with a mental or behavioral health issue or an intellectual handicap, but now you realize that characteristics are more similar to autism.
  • Without knowing how to handle the situation, you felt socially excluded, different, or alone.
  • When you read about autism, you may see signs that you identify in yourself, or you may feel strongly that your experience is being portrayed.
  • You have a family member with autism, and you identify the symptoms in yourself as a result of their diagnosis.

More individuals have started to self-diagnose based on their own experiences with clinical diagnoses, particularly later-in-life diagnoses, as more people share their personal tales on social media. If you’re one of these folks, contacting a therapist or general practitioner who can help you get evaluated for autism using one or more screening questionnaires and a one-on-one chat may help you get checked for autism.

You cannot diagnose yourself with autism, even if you believe you have it. A doctor must examine you and issue a formal diagnosis.

Adult Autism Diagnostic Tests Currently Available

Several tests may assist physicians in diagnosing autism in adults.

  • The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd Edition, Module 4 is used to diagnose autism in adults who are verbally fluent. There are a number of unanswered concerns about typical autistic symptoms, such as language and communication, reciprocal social connections, and limited or repetitive activities. The doctor will assign a score of 1 to 3 to each of these categories before making a diagnosis based on the overall score.
  • ADI-R: This is a survey that is often used to diagnose children based on parent interviews. However, some physicians may utilize it to identify people with autism by asking about their childhood experiences instead of the same interview questions.
  • The Actions and Feelings Questionnaire (AFQ) is a questionnaire that looks at variations in motor cognition. This is concerned with how individuals interpret and comprehend their bodily actions, which may aid adults in relating to their surroundings. This includes social processing, which may be used to identify adults with autism.

While these are only a handful of the numerous possible screening tests for people on the autism spectrum, there is no singular collection of instruments that has been certified for adults. If you’re an adult who suspects you’re on the autism spectrum, get a second opinion or inquire about taking many tests so you can fully comprehend all of your symptoms.

It may be necessary for you to undertake your own study so that you can speak with your doctor or therapist about your experiences. A formal diagnosis from a doctor or counselor will gain you access to proper therapy, but assessing your own suspected autism symptoms can give you a greater knowledge of your own experience. This may urge you to seek more therapy if necessary.

Make Use of a Professional

Several websites provide “self-diagnosis” exams or quizzes for autism, however they are neither conclusive nor certified by medical professionals who are familiar with the illness. It may be more beneficial to read about autism and the experiences of persons who have been diagnosed as adults. This information might help you start a conversation with your doctor about getting therapeutic help.

Adult Autism Symptoms

Adults with autism may experience the following symptoms, which may help you determine if you are autistic or not:

  • Having difficulty comprehending what others are thinking or experiencing.
  • Idioms or phrases, such as “don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” might cause confusion.
  • Using your imagination to come up with new phrases or terms to describe things.
  • Wishing to have a few close friends or one greatest friend, but never being able to keep such friendships going and not understanding why they don’t work out.
  • You’re having trouble controlling your emotions.
  • Having trouble controlling a conversation’s natural give and take. Instead, if the topic is something you understand, you speak more about your preferred subject or take the lead in the discussion.
  • Participating in a restricted variety of activities or doing solitary activities in your spare time.
  • Daily or weekly routines must be strictly adhered to, and deviations must be handled with utmost caution.
  • Looking folks in the eyes makes you uncomfortable, therefore you prefer to stare at a wall, your shoes, or anywhere else so you can listen better.
  • Being clumsy, colliding with objects, dropping items, or stumbling over your own feet on a regular basis.

Find a therapist who specializes in autism or ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist if these and other autistic symptoms seem all too familiar. These experts can assist you in receiving the appropriate therapy depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Because certain diseases are frequent among persons with autism, you may require help with additional issues. Co-occurring anxiety and sadness, for example, are quite prevalent among persons diagnosed with autism later in life. Therapists and physicians can also assist you in reducing the symptoms of co-occurring illnesses.


Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder. (March 2020). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Diagnosis, Management, and Development of Health Services (Aug. 2016) Treatment of Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Adult Autism Diagnosis (August 2016). The National Autistic Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of

According to the first study of autism in adults in the United States, 2.2 percent of adults have autism spectrum disorder. (In May of 2020). CNN.

Module 4 of the ADOS program at Queens University.

The Autism Diagnostic Interview has been updated (ADI-R). Cornell Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

An Evaluation of the Developmental, Dimensional, and Diagnostic Interview-Adult Version in Assessing Autism in Adults (3Di-Adult). (February of this year). The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of autism and developmental disorders.

The Autism and Typically Developed Adults Actions and Feelings Questionnaire. (Aug. 2017) The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of autism and developmental disorders.

Validity of a Screening Tool for Autism Spectrum Disorder in an Adult Psychiatric Population (RAADS-14 Screen). (Updated December 2013). Autism is a genetic disorder.

Validation of a Questionnaire Investigating Subthreshold Autism Spectrum in Adults (AdAS Spectrum). (February of this year). Psychiatry as a whole.

Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: What Does It Look Like? (In June of 2020). ADDitude Magazine is a publication dedicated to the study of attention deficit disorder.

Depression and Autism Have Deep Emotional Ties (July 2019). Spectrum.

Managing Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms in Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders. (July 2011). Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience.

The “is it worth getting an autism diagnosis” is a question that many people ask. There are many ways to test for adult autism, but the most common is through an interview with your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

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