Autism in adults: when should you get tested?

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Is it time you got checked for autism, regardless of your age?

In a day and age where medical advances make it easier to diagnose certain conditions, it is becoming more common to diagnose adults with autism. While the idea may initially seem scary, a realization such as this can be both life-changing and for the better.

Jacob Durn, a contributor to The Mighty, writes that “[Knowing I was autistic] would have solved a lot of problems I encountered between [when I was younger] and now, but the important thing is that I know now.”

For some who are diagnosed late, like Jacob, they look back and wonder how they didn’t see it coming. For others, the signs aren’t so clear. People who don’t have autism can experience mild symptoms, such as poor eye contact, compulsive behavior or repetitive movements. On the other hand, people who have been diagnosed with autism may be experiencing something else entirely. For instance, plenty of individuals have been misdiagnosed with autism when they really have attention deficit disorder (ADD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

So, with so many different variables at play, how can you know whether you need to be diagnosed, and when should you see a doctor to confirm your suspicions?

For starters, there is no official “test” to see whether or not you may have autism, so a diagnosis would likely come from a trained physician or psychologist. Can this lead to an incorrect diagnosis? Yes – especially in children, but more often than not it would befit the person in question to get checked regardless so that a treatment plan of some sort can be put into place.

And speaking of children, having your child diagnosed is one of the first signs that you should get tested for autism, too. The process of testing an adult is a little bit different, however, mainly because there are limitations that force doctors to rely heavily on observation. Still, finding a qualified doctor who specializes in evaluating adults is important if you feel you may warrant a diagnosis.

“In my opinion, your best bet may be a developmental pediatrician, child psychiatrist or pediatric neurologist who is both experienced in evaluating autism in children and open to seeing older patients,” says David Beversdorf, a neurologist. “I would recommend talking to the clinician who diagnosed your child. If she or he does not feel qualified to evaluate an adult, he or she may have a respected colleague who would be.”

You may also consider getting tested if you’ve tried self-assessments and still don’t feel confident in the results. While these tools aren’t the most accurate sources of information, they are easy to take and can be a good starting point for those who are worried.

Being diagnosed with autism is not a bad thing. In fact, getting proper treatment from a professional can significantly improve one’s life so that they can start living just as normally as their peers.

April is autism awareness month. For more information on autism and how it might affect you, check out the other articles from Sinclair Cares.

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