How to identify autism spectrum disorder in adults

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Autism spectrum disorders, also known as autism or ASD, are becoming increasingly common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1% of the world’s population — or 75,000 people — have ASD. Even more surprising is that an estimated 5.4 million (or 2.2%) adults in the US have ASD. This number may seem large, but ASD has a wide range of symptoms and degrees of severity.

“Autism spectrum disorders occur in all age, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups,” says Lisa Neitzke, PhD, BCBA, board-certified psychologist for Nebraska Medicine and assistant professor of psychology at the UNMC/Munroe-Meyer Institute. “Although not everyone is diagnosed at an early age, early detection is key to improving outcomes later in life.”

Below we outline five commonly asked questions (and answers) about ASD in adults.

1. Can adults be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Adults can be diagnosed with ASD. Most symptoms typically appear before age 18, but others may not manifest until later in life when social demands exceed individual abilities.

2. What are the signs of ASD in adults?

Some adults with ASD show symptoms resembling attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Other symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
  • Trouble interpreting facial expressions, body language, or social cues
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • trouble holding a conversation
  • Flexion not reflecting feelings
  • Difficulty maintaining the natural give and take of a conversation
  • Tendency to engage in repetitive or routine behaviors
  • Participation in a limited range of activities only
  • Strict continuity with daily routine or bursts of change
  • Exhibit strong, special interests

3. How is autism diagnosed?

A multifactorial assessment is the best tool for diagnosing ASD in adults. The assessment should include a personal assessment as well as a thorough assessment of your developmental history from a parent or caregiver who knew you from your childhood. Sometimes it can be difficult to find such an informant. If this is the case, a spouse, partner, or close friend can help conduct the necessary screenings by reporting on your current behavior.

If you’re thinking about seeking an autism assessment, online ASD assessments can provide a good place to start. However, most online rating scales do not have sufficient reliability and validity to make accurate diagnoses, and they do not take into account your developmental history. Therefore, clinical expertise is required to properly interpret your results and make a correct diagnosis.

4. Who can diagnose ASD in adults?

If you suspect ASD, you should talk to your family doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a behavioral health specialist, such as a B. A licensed psychologist authorized to conduct psychological testing. It is important to find a healthcare provider with specific knowledge of ASD developmental disabilities and assessment methods appropriate for adults because they differ from those for children or adolescents. (Some physicians with experience evaluating children and adolescents may not have experience evaluating adults.)

5. Is an autism diagnosis covered by insurance?

Although ASD assessments are increasingly recognized as a medical necessity, coverage often differs between providers. Check with your insurance provider what they cover.

Conclusion: ASD can manifest in different ways and is often a lifelong condition, but early diagnosis and treatment can make a significant difference.

If you or your family have problems, give us a call 800,922,0000 to make an appointment with a behavioral doctor.

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