Adolescent and Adult Autism Evaluations 

Adolescent and adult autism evaluations are conducted for older adolescents and adults who suspect they may be autistic, particularly if this was overlooked earlier in life.

Older adolescents and adults often seek autism evaluations in the context of longstanding difficulties that have been hard to understand or treat. Individuals may function well in some aspects of their lives but struggle to stay afloat in others. They may seem successful, but live with persistent anxiety, depression, school or work problems, and relationship difficulties.

Adolescent and adult autism assessments can provide a way to understand historical challenges, reframe self-blame and guilt, and forge a path that affirms one’s neurotype

For adolescent and adult autism evaluations to be accurate, it is necessary to understand how autism may manifest differently than it does in younger children. Those seeking evaluations later in life may show subtle or “camouflaged” neurodivergent traits. I offer nuanced approach that acknowledges these complexities.

I also recognize the need to distinguish autism from conditions like OCD or anxiety, and to understanding how they coexist. Finally, I consider the potential role of trauma, as it is relatively common among autistic individuals and can both mimic and intensify the challenges they face.

Adolescent and adult autism assessments begin with an extensive interview with the client. I ask detailed questions about early development, as well as past and current medical, emotional, behavioral, social, academic, and work history.

Collateral information is especially helpful in autism evaluations in order to gain valuable outside perspectives. Information may be sought from family members, partners, friends, therapists, teachers, and/ or colleagues.

The content of adolescent or adult autism testing varies depending on client need and interest. Possible areas of focus include:

Social Functioning: patterns and challenges in relationships; social awareness and understanding; communication styles; hobbies and interests

Daily Living: sensory sensitivity; movement and repetitive behaviors; self-soothing techniques; habits of eating, sleeping, and self-care; communication of needs and desires

Emotional Functioning: experiences with anxiety and depression; obsessions and compulsions; responses to trauma and stress; personality; coping strategies; emotion regulation

Cognitive Functioning: visual and auditory processing; language skills; information processing speed; executive functions (planning, organization, flexibility, impulsivity), attention, learning, memory

Tests depend on the referral question but may include the MIGDAS-2, ADOS-II, SCID-5, WAIS-IV, D-KEFS, WCST, Rey CFT, SCAN-3, RAADS-R, CAT-Q, SRS-2, and BRIEF-A.

Testing is conducted over a series of appointments – usually 1-3 sessions of 2-3 hours each. However, testing is flexible depending on an individual’s capacity for sustaining focus.

Results are analyzed and summarized in a comprehensive written report, which is presented to clients in a feedback session.

The report notes strengths and challenges, any diagnoses, and real-world implications. The report also explores reasons why autism may have been previously undiagnosed, emphasizing understanding and validation of the client’s neurodivergent experience.

Recommendations are made for possible treatment, self-help, social support, educational or occupational accommodations, and daily living.

No referrals are required for adolescent or adult autism evaluations. They often do result from referrals from mental health providers, or suggestions from colleagues, managers, educators, or family members. However, individuals often self-refer.

I am not in network with any insurance companies. However, I can provide you with a superbill, which you can submit to your insurance provider for potential out-of-network coverage. Should your insurance policy include such benefits, you might be eligible for partial reimbursement of the evaluation expenses.

Interested in an adolescent or adult autism assessment?