What is ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. In most cases, autistic people receive a diagnosis in childhood, usually after the age of 4 years. However, some autistic adults are not diagnosed in childhood, even if their symptoms are more severe.
Autistic people may find some aspects of communication and social interaction challenging. They may have difficulty relating to people and understanding their emotions. Autistic adults may also have inflexible thought patterns and behaviour and may carry out repetitive actions.
Common signs and symptoms of ASD in adults can include:
· difficulty making conversation.
· difficulty making or maintaining close friendships.
· discomfort during eye contact.
· challenges with regulating emotions.
· extreme interest in one particular topic
· frequent monologues on the same subject or subjects
· hypersensitivity to sounds or smells that do not seem to bother others.
· involuntary noises, such as repetitive throat clearing.
· difficulty understanding sarcasm or idioms.
· lack of inflection when speaking
· limited interest in only a few activities
· preference for solitary activities
· problems reading the emotions of others.
· trouble understanding facial expressions and body language.
· reliance on daily routines and difficulty dealing with change.
· repetitive behaviours
· social anxiety
· superior abilities in a particular field, such as mathematics or other disciplines
· the need to arrange items in a specific order.
Why do Adults do an ASD Assessment?
For an autistic person not diagnosed in childhood, receiving an ASD diagnosis later in life may be helpful for many reasons. It can provide better access to services and support.
Seeking an ASD diagnosis as an adult can be challenging for several reasons:
People who did not receive a diagnosis in their younger years may have milder symptoms, which can be more difficult to recognize. At times, such people may never get a diagnosis.
If people have been living with ASD for some time, they may be better at masking the signs and symptoms.
What are the benefits of getting an ASD Assessment?
· It may help you (your family and friends) to understand why you may experience certain difficulties and what you can do about them. It may correct a previous misdiagnosis and mean that any mental health problems can be better addressed.
· Diagnosis can often bring a sense of relief — finally there’s an explanation for always feeling ‘different’. Confidence can come from finally seeing your social challenges as part of your condition instead of a personal failing.
· Diagnosis also creates opportunities to connect with other autistic adults and foster new friendships and support networks. There are many online support groups, which allow people to share experiences while avoiding the anxieties of face-to-face interactions.
How does the ASD Assessment work?
An adult autism diagnosis is done by a healthcare professional qualified to make an autism diagnosis, such as a psychologist. A comprehensive autism assessment relies on several factors, including:
· Your own observations about how you communicate in social situations and if you have any sensory sensitivities.
· Reports about odd behaviours or movements, as well as outbursts
· Results of self-screening questionnaires
· Results of clinical evaluations and observations
One of the common diagnostic tests for autism in adulthood, the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2) Module 4: The ADOS-2 is the gold standard for diagnosing autism in people of all ages. Module 4 is used specifically for adults and is not a questionnaire.
Instead, the professional administering the test will observe how you respond to certain prompts. They evaluate both what you say and how you behave. It is best practice for the clinician to have adequate time to review what s/he observes during the ADOS-2 component of the assessment process. It is equally important for a second clinician to view this component. For this reason, you will be asked to consent to a video recording. The video will only be shared with the second practitioner.
Another important component of the assessments is the Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised (ADI-R). This is a comprehensive interview protocol that provides a thorough assessment of individuals suspected of having autism or other autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The ADI-R has proven highly useful for formal diagnosis as well as for treatment and educational planning.
To administer the ADI-R, an experienced clinical interviewer questions a parent or caretaker who is familiar with the developmental history and current behaviour of the individual being evaluated. For this reason, individuals interested in going for assessment need to understand that it is highly preferable for a parent (or substantially older sibling) to attend for the ADI-R component of the assessment. This is considered best practice, to attain detailed understanding of their earlier years (i.e., around 5-6 years)
What is not included in the ASD Assessment:
1. Access to medication
2. Access to a psychiatrist
How much does the Adult ASD Assessment cost?
An adult ASD Assessment for persons aged 18 plus is €1600.