I spend a lot of time discussing the importance of early screening for autism, the effectiveness of early intervention, and on statistics surrounding children in general. However, I have frequently had adults approach me with the question, “Might I have autism?” Or: “I think my husband has Asperger’s.”
As autism awareness continues to grow in our country, we see teens and adults asking themselves this question more frequently. They are looking for a reason why they act as they do. Could it be autism? We also see parents who, only after their child is diagnosed, begin connecting the dots and believe that they too have autism.
As there is no medical test that diagnoses autism, this determination is typically based upon clinical judgement. Specially trained physicians and psychologists administer those behavioral evaluations, interviews, and conduct personal observations in order to make this judgement.
Currently, there are few psychologists and physicians who are confident in diagnosing adults with autism. Most diagnostic checklists are geared towards children’s behaviors; although there are some under development, there are currently no formal assessments created for adults. And as adults often develop coping mechanisms to deflect some of the observable characteristics of autism, a diagnosis may prove even more difficult to secure.
We’ve come so far in the diagnosis of children, who’s to say where we will be over the next 3-5 years? If you want to learn more, here are some great resources: