Adult Autism Self-Test & Guide
Many tests and diagnoses are made in childhood, but can still be performed in adulthood. Diagnosing ASD in adulthood can bring significant benefits and relief. With treatment and support, symptoms of autism can be reduced.
Take Adult Autism Test (Self-Test)
Please note this tool is for self-evaluation purposes only. This test is not intended to replace a medical diagnosis. If you believe you have autism spectrum disorder or another psychological condition, seek professional treatment.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder that can affect learning, communication, and social interactions. Autism is differentiated by levels of the spectrum. There are three levels of ASD based on the need for support.
Level one is considered the highest-functioning autism and needs little support to function in society. Level 2 autism needs more support than level 1 ASD, but with support can live fulfilling lives. Level 3 autism needs the most support and with treatment can see reductions in symptoms. However, Level 3 autism will need support on a daily basis.
Signs of Autism in Adults & Children
Different signs characterize autism in children and adults. Autism signs are not apparent in children. That’s why doctors usually look at the child’s development history and behavior to decide whether they are autistic. They can detect autism as early as 18 months or younger.
However, until two years, a diagnosis made by an experienced doctor is deemed reliable. Despite the reliability of this age, many kids don’t receive a final diagnosis until they’re older. To some, a complete diagnosis is not made until adolescence or adulthood.
Problems with Social Interaction & Communication
Autism involves different aspects of communication that can appear as early as five years. Autistic children might also have trouble expressing or understanding other people’s feelings at 36 months. They also experience difficulty talking or speaking as they grow and language skills may develop at an uneven pace.
Here are some of the factors you need to look out for in various timelines:
- From birth: The child has trouble maintaining eye contact
- At nine months: The child doesn’t respond to their name. And don’t display facial expressions that reflect their emotions. Such as anger or being surprised.
- At 12 months: The child doesn’t engage in basic interactive games such as pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo. The child also doesn’t use hand gestures such as waving their hand.
- At 15 months: The child doesn’t show interest in others, like showing another person their favorite toy.
- At 18 months: The child doesn’t point out where other people are pointing.
- At 24 months: A child doesn’t notice when other people are hurt or sad.
- At 30 months: The child doesn’t engage in pretend play like playing with figurines or caring for a baby.
- At 60 months: The child doesn’t engage in turn-taking games such as duck-duck-goose
As an autistic child grows, they might start talking in an unusual tone. This can range from a high-pitched to a flat or robotic manner. They might also portray hyperlexia, a condition that involves acquiring their reading ability beyond their expectations at a particular age. However, even though they learn earlier than their peers, they tend not to comprehend what they’re reading.
Another significant observation for children with autism is their difficulty sharing their interests and emotions with others. Autistic children may also have trouble communicating with their peers. They also experience difficulty maintaining body language or eye contact. All these challenges may persist until their adulthood.
Repetitive or Restrictive Behavior Patterns
Apart from the communication and social issues mentioned above, children with autism may portray repetitive or restricted behaviors such as:
- Making repetitive movements such as spinning, running back and forth, flapping arms, and rocking
- Lining their objects in a particular order and getting upset when the order is disturbed
- Attaching to strict routines like using a specific process before they sleep or getting to school
- Repeating phrases or words they usually hear another person say
- Getting upset when minor changes are made
- Putting a lot of attention to objects or parts of a whole thing
- Being obsessed with something such as a particular toy
- Exceptional abilities such as memory capabilities or musical talents
Stimming Behavior of Autism
Stimming refers to self-stimulating behaviors that often involve repetitive speech and motions5. Repetitively clapping hands, repeating a phrase, or rubbing an object are all examples of stimming. Nearly all children with autism engage in stimming, whether biting their nails or rubbing their hands.
For some, stimming can affect everyday life or cause physical harm. This behavior might help serve as a way to cope with sensory overloads or deal with uncomfortable situations.
Signs & Symptoms of Autism in Adults
Autism in adults is usually characterized by social and behavioral challenges. Communication barriers are common due to processing and verbalizing information differences. Autistic adults often maintain rigid, repetitive patterns and rituals. Controlling movement and fine motor skills can be challenging with ASD.
Communication difficulties among autistic adults can include:
- Trouble reading and responding to other people’s cues
- Difficulty participating in a conversation
- Difficulty relating to other people’s feelings and thoughts
- Inability to read other people’s facial expressions and body language
- Use of flat, monotone, or robotic speech patterns that don’t communicate what they’re feeling
- The invention of their descriptive phrases and words
- Difficulty understanding figurative speeches or phrases
- Talking a lot about one or two favorite topics
- Difficulty creating and maintaining a close friendship
Challenges with Emotions & Behaviors
Emotional and behavioral difficulties among autistic adults can include:
- Difficulty regulating emotions or how to respond to them
- Outbursting or getting into a meltdown when an unexpected thing happens
- Getting upset when things are rearranged or moved
- Maintaining a regular and rigid schedule or routine
- Maintaining repetitive rituals or behaviors
- Making noise when a place is more quiet than expected
Adults with autism may also have a deep understanding of a few topics or specific areas of interest but have difficulties with others. Hypersensitivity to sensory input like smell, touch, sound, and pain can be common. Preferences tend to lean towards working without a partner or other people.
Diagnosis of Autism in Adults vs. Children
There’s no specific test for autism in adults or children, such as a blood test. Therefore, diagnosing this condition involves in-person observation, interaction, and reporting. It also involves different experts and an evaluation of the respective person’s medical and developmental history. Especially in children when its symptoms are not apparent.
Diagnosis of Autism in Children
Autism diagnosis in children may involve the following processes:
- At-home testing
- Developmental screening
- Genetic testing
Parents should not decide about their children’s autism at home. However, at-home testing can help determine whether to seek further testing or wait until a child is older.
At-home testing involves several in-person observations of signs and symptoms. These include difficulty maintaining eye contact with you and delayed communication skills with children of similar age.
You might also notice that your child is usually bothered when there’s a change in their daily routine. They are also entirely unresponsive to any communication.
Despite the findings associated with at-home testing results, it’s recommendable to seek autistic screening. This is especially important for a child between 18 to 24 months. Screening can help a parent determine whether their child is autistic earlier and benefit from early support.
The M-CHAT of Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers is the most common screening tool for childhood autism. Pediatrics can then rely on the response to decide whether a child will likely develop autism.
Please note that screening doesn’t necessarily mean that a child is autistic. Most children with positive screening reports don’t necessarily have autism. You should also note that screening doesn’t always identify autistic children.
Genetic Testing for Autism
A doctor may refer you to genetic counseling and testing. The genetic test looks at the cause of autism but is not used to diagnose it. It’s recommended for asthmatic people with syndromic autism, meaning they have other specific features apart from the syndrome. These features include looking differently from other family members with congenital disabilities.
The most preferred genetic test for people with ASD is chromosomal microarray or CMA. It looks at the chromosomes to see whether there are extra or missing parts that could have caused the condition. It usually finds an autism genetic cause in 5% to 14% of people with the syndrome.
Genetic testing can also be suitable for checking genetic disorders that can lead to ASD, such as:
- Fragile X syndrome
- Rett syndrome
In some cases, doctors may recommend a whole sequencing. Especially if the chromosomal microarray and the above genetic tests don’t find the cause of autism in a child. A whole-exome sequencing will look for genetic changes as part of the DNA that makes proteins. A whole-exome sequencing can find a cause in 8% to 20% of people with autism.
Other Tests for Autism in Children
A doctor may recommend other tests for autism in children, such as:
- Behavioral evaluation
- Visual and audio tests to rule out issues with hearing or vision that are not related to autism
- Occupational therapy screening
- Use of a developmental questionnaire like the autism diagnostic observation schedule
Once these diagnoses are completed, a specialist team will evaluate the results to determine whether a child is autistic. The experts include a child psychologist, occupational therapist, and speech and language pathologist.
Diagnosis of Autism in Adults
Similar to the diagnosis of autism in children, there’s no standard diagnostic method for adults suspected to be autistic. However, clinicians usually diagnose adults with autism through thorough in-person observations and interactions. They also consider symptoms that the person would be experiencing.
A diagnosis of autism in adults starts with an evaluation from the family doctor. The family doctor will assess the underlying physical illness that accounts for your behaviors. They may also refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for in-depth assessments.
A clinician may also want to speak about any issues associated with your behavioral patterns, emotions, and range of interest. You will have to answer questions about your childhood. The clinician may request to speak to your parents or older family members. This is to gain a perspective on your behaviors.
You may be evaluated further if the clinician determines that you didn’t display any autism symptoms during childhood. This is to identify symptoms of a possible affective disorder or mental health condition.
Autism Diagnosis Tests for Adults
Autism tests that can help with diagnosis for adults can include:
- Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)2: fifty question self-test designed to distinguish between symptoms of autism, high-functioning autism, or no autism spectrum disorder
- Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorder (DISCO)8: interview-style test that enquires about a person’s developmental behaviors through their daily functioning. It’s suitable for people who cannot accurately detail their history for developmental behaviors categorized under autism.
- Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R)6: concentrates on determining the quality of the affected child’s social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors.
- Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)1: evaluates a child’s or adult’s social interaction and communication. Clinicians can use it to diagnose children or adults with autism symptoms or those at risk of developing this condition. Those with severe communication issues may not benefit from this assessment method.
Causes of Autism
Researchers cannot pinpoint a specific cause for ASD. However, several factors are suspected to be the risk factor for ASD.
Risk factors for autism can include:
- Having a close family member whose autistic
- Certain types of genetic mutations
- Being born to older parents
- Maternal history of viral infection
- Fragile X syndrome
- Low birth weight
- Exposure to environmental toxins and heavy metals
- Fetal exposure to medications such as thalidomide and valproic acid
Support for People with ASD
There’s no specific treatment for autism, but there is support available to help alleviate certain symptoms associated with this disorder. There are different approaches for support in children and adults. There are also different support systems for parents with autistic children.
Support for Adults with ASD
Adults diagnosed with autism should seek support based on the challenges they’re experiencing.
Some of the measures include:
- Seeking an official diagnosis from a psychiatrist
- Taking prescribed medication to alleviate symptoms such as depression and anxiety
- Work with a social worker to manage symptoms
- Use different therapies such as applied behavior analysis and cognitive behavioral therapy
- Work with a vocational rehabilitation counselor to assess your strength and needs
- Seeking support groups through forums and online groups and connecting with other people with autism spectrum disorder
Support for Children with Autism
Since autism symptoms may overlap between autism and other disorders, many diagnoses focus on the child’s specific needs.
Some of the treatment options include:
- Applied behavior analysis (ABA)
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Speech-language therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Education and school-based treatment
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – TMS
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive and medication-free treatment that focuses on stimulating the brain to help relieve symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Studies are finding that TMS can help with some of the behaviors exhibited in autistic individuals7.
TMS often has few to no side effects and requires little to no communication. Autism is often associated with communication difficulties, making TMS a good option for treatment in this population.
Getting Help For Adult ASD
There is a greater need for diagnosis if you observe various autism symptoms in you or your loved one. This helps you accurately determine whether you or your loved one is autistic. There’s no better way to achieve the best results than partnering with a professional evaluator.
At Brain Center TMS, we used cutting-edge technology to assess and resolve mental and neuropathic disorders without medication. We can help you cope with your autism symptoms with this technology. Contact us today to make an appointment.
- Akshoomoff, N., Corsello, C., & Schmidt, H. (2007, May 14). The role of the autism diagnostic observation schedule in the assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders in school and community settings. The California school psychologist : CASP. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868476/
- Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Skinner, R., Martin, J., & Clubley, E. (2001, February). The autism-spectrum quotient (AQ): Evidence from asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism, males and females, scientists and mathematicians. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11439754/
- CDC Staff. (2022, April 7). Key findings: CDC releases first estimates of the number of adults living with autism spectrum disorder in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/features/adults-living-with-autism-spectrum-disorder.html
- Hyman, S. L., Levy, S. E., & Myers, S. M. (2020, January). Identification, evaluation, and management of children with autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31843864/
- Kapp, S. K., Steward, R., Crane, L., Elliott, D., Elphick, C., Pellicano, E., & Russell, G. (2019, October). ‘people should be allowed to do what they like’: Autistic adults’ views and experiences of Stimming. Autism : the international journal of research and practice. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6728747/
- Kim, S. H., Thurm, A., Shumway, S., & Lord, C. (2014, July 1). Multisite Study of New Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) algorithms for toddlers and young preschoolers. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3594108/
- Oberman, L. M., Rotenberg, A., & Pascual-Leone, A. (2015, February). Use of transcranial magnetic stimulation in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519010/
- Wing, L., Leekam, S. R., Libby, S. J., Gould, J., & Larcombe, M. (2022, March). The diagnostic interview for Social and Communication Disorders: Background, inter-rater reliability and clinical use. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11944874/
- Yu, T. W., Chahrour, M. H., Coulter, M. E., Jiralerspong, S., Okamura-Ikeda, K., Ataman, B., Schmitz-Abe, K., Harmin, D. A., Adli, M., Malik, A. N., D’Gama, A. M., Lim, E. T., Sanders, S. J., Mochida, G. H., Partlow, J. N., Sunu, C. M., Felie, J. M., Rodriguez, J., Nasir, R. H., … Walsh, C. A. (2013, January 23). Using whole-exome sequencing to identify inherited causes of autism. Neuron. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3694430/