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Monday, July 1, 2024

The Journey to an Adult Autism Diagnosis Is Not Easy

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the uncertainty surrounding estimates of autism prevalence.  Although diagnosis typically takes place in childhood, some adults have sought it out.

 Marina Sarris at Forbes:
While autism helped to explain aspects of their lives, some adults say, the ease and process of getting a diagnosis varied widely. Some say that their insurance companies helped them find the right doctor or psychologist to evaluate them. Others, however, say that they had problems with insurance, cost, or finding a healthcare provider who was experienced with adult autism.

Autism appears in early childhood, when it’s usually diagnosed, and many autism specialists only see children and teens. Some psychologists and psychiatrists who just see adults may not be experienced in diagnosing autism.

And autism may look different in adults. They may no longer have the “red flags” of childhood autism, such as poor eye contact and problems having a conversation, said psychologist Vanessa Bal, Ph.D., during a webinar for SPARK.

That may be because their social communication skills have developed over time, she said. Also, some adults have learned to camouflage, or hide their autism traits, in order to fit in during social situations, Bal said. Camouflaging makes a person’s autism appear less visible to others.1, 2

“For autistic adults, the presentation of autism, what autism ‘looks like,’ may look quite different from what people in the general public might expect, and even professionals who are more familiar with autism in children,” Bal said.