Autism diagnosis in adults
You may be wondering if you are autistic. There are many online 'autism tests' but they can't guarantee accuracy. The only way to know for sure is to get a formal diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with autism it is called a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC).
The information on this page is aimed at adults looking to receive an autism diagnosis, for children visit our local offer.
You may be worried you are autistic because you have read or watched something that describes your own experiences.
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.
Signs or symptoms of autism
If you are experiencing one or more of the following, you may want to consider asking for an assessment for autism:
- difficulties interacting or communicating with others socially
- rigid and repetitive behaviours, resistance to change or restricted interests
- problems finding or staying in a job or education
- difficulties having social relationships
- previous or current contact with mental health or learning disability services
- a history of a neurodevelopmental condition (including learning disabilities and ADHD) or mental disorder.
Support and advice about diagnosis
Our Adult Social Care team can offer advice and support about whether and how to ask for a diagnosis.
You can also contact the National Autistic Society for additional support and advice.
Online screening questionnaires
You can fill in online screening questionnaires which measure autistic traits in adults. They don't guarantee accuracy or provide a formal diagnosis but can be used to help show how likely it is that you are autistic.
Speak to your GP if you are concerned about the score after taking the tests.
First contact your GP, who will complete an assessment with you. The assessment will help your GP decide if they should refer you to a specialist for a formal diagnosis.
If you find it too difficult to contact your GP yourself, you can ask someone else to do it for you. This may be another professional you have contact with (such as a college tutor) or you can ask an advocacy organisation to speak on your behalf.
If you have other moderate or severe mental health problems the Community Mental Health Service may refer you to a specialist instead of your GP.
Find out who you are referred to
Who your GP refers you to for diagnosis depends on where you live.
You are referred to South London and Maudsley NHS Trust clinic (SLAM) if you live in:
- Canterbury and Coastal
- South Kent coast
You are referred to Psicon if you live in:
- Tonbridge and Malling
- Tunbridge Wells.
Private diagnosis is an option, if you can pay for one, and can 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.
A psychologist usually carries out the assessment. It's a good idea to bring a family member with you to your assessment who knows about your childhood and development.
The assessor will ask a series of questions from a specific autism questionnaire.
They will provide a report and recommendations within 4 weeks of completing the assessment.
The recommendation report has to be sent to you and your GP or Community Mental Health Team within 4 weeks of the assessment.
If you are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC)
If appropriate, you will be referred to our Adult Social Care Team for assessment.
We may offer you follow-up advice and information if you have just been diagnosed. This is provided by a specialist information officer who can discuss ASC and what it might mean for you. They will be able to advise on support available and tell you about other organisations who can help you.
You may also have access to short term help, skills training and support services. The assessor will also provide information on support such as Live it Well Kent.
If you have other mental health problems you may be referred for other support such as therapy and counselling.
If autism is not diagnosed
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.
The services you may be directed to include Live it Well services, therapy and counseling, information services or KCC 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.