Do you think you might have Autism? Or are you concerned about someone else but not sure what to do about it next?
What are some common indicators of Autism?
Every Autistic person is different, just like every individual is different. There isn’t one set of behaviours that define Autism. Similarly, just because someone has one or two traits that are comparable to Autism, this doesn’t mean that they are autistic.
Some common indicators of autism might include:
- Social Communication – difficulties with ‘reading’ others. For example, understanding facial expressions, understanding jokes or sentences with underlying meanings such as sarcasm.
- Social Interaction - may not be aware of social expectations such as being in someone else’s personal space, may appear to be rude or insensitive, may find it hard to form and maintain friendships.
- Routines and repetitive behaviours – often autistic people prefer a routine and can be distressed if this is altered without warning.
- Sensory – may experience over or under sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain. Autistic people may find certain background sounds unbearably loud or distracting (hypersensitive), they may dress inappropriately for cold weather (hyposensitive). Some sensory experiences can cause anxiety or even physical pain to the individual..
I have heard of Asperger’s Syndrome, is that different?
Asperger's syndrome is a form of autism which may also affect the way a person communicates and relates to other people. People with Asperger's syndrome may experience challenges such as specific learning difficulties, anxiety or other conditions.
Some people can be diagnosed with Autism alongside another existing medical condition. For example, someone might have Autism alongside a Learning Disability, Dyspraxia, Depression or Epilepsy.
I’m still not sure. Is there a test I can try?
A good place to start might be to do a self-assessment. There is a questionnaire called the AQ10 test which you can download and complete to give a general indication of whether someone might have Autism. There are 2 versions available, one for adults & one for children (AQ10 for children).
If you suspect that you may have Autism you can then make an appointment to see a GP, offer them the results from the AQ10, if you have done it, (if you have not done the AQ10 then the GP should go through the questions with you), and ask them to refer you to a diagnostic pathway.
What will happen after I visit my GP?
If your GP is in agreement with your request for a referral to a diagnostic service, they will make a referral to the appropriate service for your area.
If you are considering getting a formal diagnosis, NHS Referral Information can provide you with further information about the general process.
What can I do if I do not agree with the outcome of the assessment?
You might wish to make a Health complaint in which case you would inform your GP. You would be eligible for assistance from a Care Act Advocate from The Advocacy People.
Do I need a diagnosis?
For some people having a formal diagnosis can help simply by giving the person some answers. This will help them to understand why they may have been struggling with particular issues.
It may also be helpful in school/college/university life and in the work place in evidencing why someone may need additional support or reasonable adjustments to be made to help them.
For other people, they may have long suspected that they have Autism but don’t wish to have a formal diagnosis. They may consider their Autism to be a private matter and may feel that they don’t want to be given a label.
It is up to each individual to decide for themselves what is best for them.
At Derriford Autism Service, we don’t insist upon a formal diagnosis as long as the person wishes to be known to the service. This information will not be shared outside of the Hospital, and will only be used to alert staff of the need to consider offering you Reasonable Adjustments.
Are there any other self-diagnosing tests I can try?
There are lots of different tests available on the Internet and lots of information about Autism. Have a look at our helpful links page for further websites you might want to visit.
There is a more in depth self-assessment with 50 questions for adults which can help to give a better indication of Autism. You can try this for yourself or have several people score the questionnaire individually and compare the results for the same person.