Awareness of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has grown considerably over the years, especially in children. However, more and more people are beginning to understand that one can get an autism diagnosis for adults, too.
A diagnosis can provide great relief to individuals experiencing symptoms. Diagnosis makes treatment and therapy an option, and there’s comfort in knowing that a whole community exists of other adults who have been diagnosed with autism.
Keep reading to learn how the medical community recognizes symptoms and diagnoses autism in adults. Once you have a diagnosis, you can receive treatment at Therapeutic Pathways.
We offer programs specifically for adults to improve their quality of life, and we are dedicated to helping each individual lead a more independent and satisfying life. For more information, call Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280
How To Get an Autism Diagnosis for Adults
Children with autism are diagnosed using the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM). However, there is no standardized diagnostic criteria for adults with autism.
This is because most people with autism are diagnosed as children. Because their brains are more malleable at a young age, therapy often has a greater impact, especially for children exhibiting severe behavior problems or profound deficiencies in language.
That’s why many adults with mild autism symptoms may “slip through the cracks” and not receive a diagnosis until later in life. They may go decades without realizing they function a little differently than other people. For example, some adults with autism are mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD or other mental health disorders with similar symptoms.
It’s important to understand that a diagnosis can be extremely beneficial for adults with autism, no matter their age or severity of symptoms. Here’s how adults can receive an autism diagnosis:
- Contact your family doctor. They will evaluate you to make sure your symptoms are not indicative of some other disorder or illness.
- If after the evaluation your family doctor believes you may have ASD, they will refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for an in-depth assessment.
- The medical professional will conduct a series of in-person interactions and observations on your behavior. They’ll talk with you about your interests and any challenges you have in communicating, socializing, and experiencing emotions. They may ask to speak with family members to get an idea of your earlier behavior patterns.
- If the medical professional determines that you did not experience autism symptoms as a child but instead began experiencing symptoms as a teenager or adult, they may evaluate you for another mental health disorder.
- If you do receive an autism diagnosis, you can begin treatment or therapy at an autism center. You may be treated through cognitive, language, or behavior therapy, but you may need to seek specific treatment for your challenges. For example, you can visit a therapist to work through issues with anxiety or social isolation, which are common in individuals with autism.
Symptoms of Autism in Adults
If you are wondering how to get an autism diagnosis for adults, you should first be aware of the symptoms of autism. No two people will experience the same symptoms, but these are some of the most common seen in adults:
- Difficulty interpreting others’ thoughts and emotions.
- Difficulty interpreting body language, facial expressions, and social cues.
- Difficulty initiating or keeping up a conversation, or monopolizing conversation on one topic they are interested in.
- Engaging in repetitive behaviors and routines, and being upset when changes occur.
- Speaking in a monotone or “robot-like” voice.
This is not a comprehensive list of symptoms. If you believe you or a family member has autism, it’s important that you contact a professional for more information.
After Receiving a Diagnosis, Contact Therapeutic Pathways
An autism diagnosis can make an enormous difference in your life.
Instead of being in the dark about the disorder and your symptoms, you will have the freedom to pursue treatment options and the awareness that you are not alone. Although most people with autism are diagnosed as children, plenty of adults are diagnosed later in life.
Dozens of online communities provide support and social interaction, as well as in-person resources available at autism centers like Therapeutic Pathways.
Even if you’ve experienced symptoms your whole life, you can take the steps to be diagnosed and treated in order to live a fuller, more satisfying life. For more information, contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280.