You may be wondering if you are autistic.

You may be asking yourself if you are autistic because you have read or watched something that describes your own experiences. There are many online 'autism tests' but they can't guarantee accuracy.

Autism traits can be mistaken for other conditions. A professional assessment means you will have an accurate and valid diagnosis so you can get the right support.

The information on this page is aimed at adults looking to receive an autism diagnosis, for children visit the SEND information hub.

Autism is a spectrum, which means that not every autistic person may show all the same signs

If you are experiencing one or more of the following, you may want to consider asking for an assessment for autism.

You may:

  • have the inability to recognise nonverbal forms of communication
  • find it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • find it hard to make friends or prefer to be on your own
  • take things very literally, for example, you may not understand sarcasm or phrases
  • have the same routine every day and getting very anxious if it changes
  • perceive the world differently and process information in unique ways
  • do not like getting too close to others, or get very upset if someone touches or gets too close to you.

You may also:

  • not understand social "rules", such as not talking over people
  • be strongly compassionate
  • avoid eye contact with others
  • love a structured routine and like to stick to the plan
  • have a great memory and are able to recall facts
  • have extreme passions about what interests you
  • notice small details, patterns, smells or sounds that others do not
  • be a visual thinker.

Whilst diagnosed autism is more common in boys in childhood, autism is often missed in girls. Studies have shown why this may be the case.

Remember, every experience of autism is unique and individual to you. The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another.

Self assessments

If you're still not too sure, you can complete a self assessment.

It doesn't guarantee accuracy or provide a formal diagnosis but can be used to help show how likely it is that you are autistic.

Download an autism screening questionnaire

Speak to your GP if you are concerned about the score after taking the tests.

A diagnosis can help you:

  • understand why you might find some things harder than other people
  • explain to others why you see and feel the world in a different way
  • get additional help at work
  • get extra benefits.

Who to talk to first

The first step is to speak with your GP.

They will complete an assessment with you, which will help them to decide whether to refer you to a specialist for a formal diagnosis.

If you feel that you cannot talk to your GP, ask for an advocate to speak on your behalf or with you.

If you already have an existing learning disability diagnosis, the Community Mental Health Service may refer you to a specialist instead of your GP.

Private diagnosis

A paid for private diagnosis is an option, as it can help to reduce the waiting time.

The costs of private assessments can vary, so it’s a good idea to phone several services to ask about costs, what this pays for and whether any follow-up service is offered.

If you meet the specialists' criteria they will offer you a date for an initial assessment. This should take place within 3 months of being referred.

The assessor will:

  • ask you to fill in a questionnaire about yourself and the issues you are experiencing
  • speak to someone who knew you as a child to find out a bit more about you
  • read any reports from the GP about other health problems you may have.

Remember, there are no wrong answers, you can answer with as much or as little as you want to. You don’t have to remember specific examples, as general experiences or memories are fine.

If you feel anxious, it's a good idea to bring a family member or a friend with you.

Once you're done, the assessor will provide a report and recommendations within 4 weeks of completing the assessment.

Read the National Autistic Society's guide explaining what happens during the assessment.

Whilst you wait for your diagnosis, there's plenty of help available online or in your community.

You can:

If you have any concerns about your mental wellbeing or physical health please contact your GP or find other mental health support.

Four weeks after your assessment, the report will be sent to you and your GP or the Community Mental Health Team.

If appropriate, you will be referred to our Sensory and Autism Team.

Our Sensory and Autism Team will work with you to complete a personalised social care assessment, which identifies any ongoing support you need. It will also help you to achieve the changes you want to make in your life.

We enable people who have ASC to live safe, fulfilling and rewarding lives. To do this we can:

  • offer assessments with occupational therapists
  • offer assessments with sensory needs specialists
  • help you to learn new skills
  • get equipment for you, for example squeeze jackets or weighted blankets.
  • tell you about the available community support services
  • signpost you to individual and voluntary organisations.
  • support your family and carers with additional information
  • provide you with access to short term mental health help.

Contact the Sensory and Autism Team:

Support from charities

You may have a lot of questions after your diagnosis and are looking for independent advice. You may be looking for other autistic people to talk about any worries you may have.

Charities are a great source of guidance and support once you've been diagnosed.

Visit one of the following websites:

Don't forget you can request a hidden disabilities sunflower lanyard. It lets people know that you may need additional support, or a little more time.

You, your family and carers may find it difficult to come to terms with not having a clear diagnosis.

You may still be referred to other support services if you have other needs such as communication, social and emotional understanding and behaviour.

You can seek a second opinion, which either means going back to your GP to explain that you aren't happy with your diagnosis and ask them to refer you elsewhere, or paying for a private assessment.

The services you may be directed to include mental health services, therapy and counseling, information services or adult social care.

You can get advice about what to do if you don’t agree with the outcome of the assessment or have a complaint. Who you contact depends on where you live.

Carer support

If you provide care and support to an adult friend or family member you may be able to get more help to carry on caring and to look after your own wellbeing.

Find out what support we can offer you via a carer's assessment.

A break from caring

We understand that being a carer can be physically and emotionally challenging, and it's important you have the opportunity to take a break from your caring role.

There are lots of ways you can take what we call a 'short break' from caring. This could be for a few hours, overnight, a weekend or longer.

Learn more about what short breaks are available.

Learn more about autism

For general autistic support, including resources and training, visit the National Autistic Society to learn more about autism and:

You also may want to sit down with your family to discuss how they are feeling about the diagnosis and any questions they have.