Autism Screening for Adults

Reviewed by:
Hannah Andreasen
M.Ed BCBA

October 4, 2022

More than 2 percent of adults in the United States are diagnosed with autism. Autism is usually considered a disorder of childhood, but the diagnosis can be missed. It is common for people to make it to adulthood without an autism diagnosis, leading to a feeling that they don’t quite fit in. If you are one of these people, you may not realize that some of your feelings and behaviors are related to autism.

If you are wondering if you might have autism, it can be difficult to know where to start getting an autism diagnosis as an adult. 

Self-Screening Tools for Autism

There is no single medical test, like a blood test, available to test for autism. Screening for autism in children usually involves tracking developmental milestones. Screening for autism in adults relies on a person’s self-observation of their history and current behavior. 

If you feel you might have autism, taking an online test is a good place to start. There are several questionnaires available online that you can use as an autism screening tool. While these questionnaires are not meant to provide a diagnosis, they may help you decide whether or not to seek a professional autism screening and diagnosis.  

Online Autism Quizzes for Adults 

There are several quizzes available online. Although you may find that many different private organizations have a quiz for autism, most quizzes are a variation of the two questionnaires described below. 

Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)

The Autism Spectrum Quotient is a 50-question screening tool designed for people 16 years and older. An online version of the test can be found here.

The ASQ is also available in an abbreviated version that is only ten questions long, known as AQ-10. An online version of the test can be found here.

Adult Repetitive Behaviors Questionnaire-2 (RBQ-2A)

The RBQ-2A is a self-administered questionnaire that tests for restricted and repetitive behaviors in adults. This can be a useful screening tool because restrictive and repetitive behaviors are one of the core symptoms of autism. 

An online version of the test can be found here.

What Does Autism Look Like in Adults

Autism will look different for each individual. The core symptoms of autism relate to differences in communication and social behavior and the presence of restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. Some of the signs and symptoms of autism in adults include the following:

Communication

People with autism may have difficulty understanding and using both verbal and non-verbal communication. Communication-related signs of autism can include difficulty with:

  • Understanding what others are feeling
  • Reading other people’s facial expressions 
  • Expressing feelings
  • Speaking with the right tone or volume 

Social Behavior

People with autism may have differences in their social behavior. Signs of autism related to social behavior can include:

  • Feeling anxious or overwhelmed in social situations
  • Preferring to be alone
  • Avoiding eye contact 
  • Having a hard time making friends
  • Seeming blunt or rude without meaning to
  • Difficulty understanding sarcasm

Restricted or Repetitive Behaviors or Interests

People with autism may show behaviors or interests that seem unusual to other people. Examples include: 

  • Maintaining the same routine and patterns 
  • Feeling anxiety about any changes in routine 
  • Having a narrow or extreme interest in a specific topic
  • Ritualistic behaviors like putting objects in a particular order or lining them up

Self-stimulatory behaviors (repetitive body movements like rocking, pacing, or hand flapping)

How to Get a Diagnosis of Autism

The only way to receive an accurate diagnosis of autism is by an evaluation by a trained professional. Start a conversation with your primary health care provider about your concerns and ask for a referral to a qualified adult psychiatrist or psychologist. You may also ask a child psychologist if they would be comfortable working with adults. 

The psychiatrist or psychologist will likely ask you questions about what you were like as a child, what you are like today, and if you have any associated conditions, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Benefits of Getting an Autism Diagnosis

Many people feel a sense of empowerment after receiving a diagnosis of autism as an adult. It might help you understand yourself better. 

It can help you and your loved ones to understand why you might feel the way you do. When you understand the reason for the feelings, it may make it easier to find the right tools to address them. It can also help to correct previous misdiagnoses. 

An autism diagnosis can also give you access to services and accommodations from your workplace or university for people with disabilities

Resources for Adults With Autism

Autism Speaks is an organization that provides a list of resources for adults with autism. Here you can find information about adult services, employment resources, housing, and more.

Conclusion

Increased autism awareness in children has led to increased awareness of autism in adults. Online questionnaires are a useful way to identify potential warning signs of autism, but only a trained healthcare professional can make a diagnosis of autism. 

‍Songbird Therapy is a technology-enabled provider setting a higher standard for children’s autism care. With a deeply passionate team and innovative technology, we’re building a world where every child can access world-class care at home, uniquely tailored to them.

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