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Autism Q&A

Autism Diagnosis for Adults

January 6th, 2022


For Autistic adults, professionals

Currently, in BC, there are no publicly funded systems for adults that are specifically designed to diagnose autism. So finding an appropriate pathway to support can be challenging.
Looking for Autism Assessment for Adults? 

Currently, in BC, there are no publicly funded systems for adults that are specifically designed to assess or diagnose autism; however, you could try a few of the following:  

  • Look at any private assessment options* that may be available. There is a significant cost ($3000-5000) for individuals to access a private autism assessment.  

We are aware of a few, rare cases, where some people have accessed additional funding support for an adult autism assessment. We list them here as alternative options with a disclaimer as these are much less clear pathways to assessment support:

  • Connect with your local mental health services and inquire about any support services they may be able to offer. Individuals receiving counselling from local mental health services can sometimes get an assessment paid for.   
  • Inquire at a local job placement agency—some have programs for assisting with an assessment.   
  • Contact your local Community Living BC (CLBC) for office information and support.
  • Connect with peers that may offer support, lived experiences, or other possible options for an autism assessment.
  • A family physician or GP — could technically give a referral to a Psychiatrist who can bill MSP (BC Medical Service Plan) – However, AutismBC is not aware of any Psychiatrist in the province who feels trained or comfortable assessing or diagnosing autism in adults. 


How do I get an autism diagnosis as an adult?


Current Private Assessment Options in BC* 

Find a Registered Psychologist—BC Psychological Association (BCPA) 

Click HERE for an up-to-date list of autism assessment providers. 

AutismBC does not oversee the Private Clinicians. We provide a list to assist with making informed decisions. Please ensure to do your own due diligence when choosing an assessor. This is not an exhaustive list.

Self-Assessment Tools/Screening Tools

Embrace Autism — Embrace offers the most widely used, empirically validated tests that can give an indication of whether you might be autistic. Please note that “no diagnosis is made based on the application of the screening tool alone. A formal diagnosis will require formalized assessment by a qualified practitioner in the context of an established clinical relationship” (Embrace Autism, 2021). Private virtual assessments are available for a fee, however, as Embrace Autism operates out of Ontario, your assessment results would need to be reviewed by a BC-Certified Psychiatrist, medical doctor or psychologist to be considered valid. Please consult with a BC-Certified Clinician before pursuing this option for assessment.

Autism Canada – The Adult Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) Age16 + Please Note: This test is not currently mobile friendly. Please take test on a computer or tablet with a larger sized screen

The Diagnostic Assessment Process in BC 

There is no standardized process for diagnosing autism in adults. In BC, clinicians adapt the diagnostic measures that were originally designed for children when diagnosing adults and there are four components:  

  1. The first part is a structured observation called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). It is an interactive discussion and diagnosticians get to observe how the individual behaves in social situations.
  2. The second part is Developmental History. Clinicians talk to a parent, a sibling, a spouse or a relative to gather information about the person’s history. They may also try to gather other records such as school report cards, videos, journals etc.
  3. The third component is a series of questionnaires for the adult and an informant who knows the adult well. The clinician would ask more questions about their history, their own experience, what they remember from their childhood, and what is happening to them now in the workplace or at school.
  4. The fourth component is a thorough timeline of the individual’s vocational history. For adults, clinicians are looking to see the strengths and challenges they have in the workplace (Iarocci, 2021).
Why is adult diagnosis important? 

Currently, in British Columbia, there is no system tracking the number of adult autism diagnoses. About 2.5% of children in BC have an autism diagnosis, which translates to about 100,000 adults in the province that may meet the criteria for autism. However, a vast number of these adults did not receive a diagnosis as children due to their higher cognitive skills, gender issues and other mental health issues overshadowing what we now know as an autism profile. While some diagnosed adults may apply for Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and Person with Disabilities (PWD) status, the majority of adults seek a diagnosis for personal validation and self-understanding (Worling, 2021).

Peer Connections 

Getting Together on the Spectrum: AutismBC — Connect with peers that may offer support, lived experiences, or other possible options for an autism assessment.

Autistics United Canada (AUC) 

Autism Canada: ASD Central 

Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) 

Autistic Women Victoria BC 

Square Peg Society 

Victoria Autism Meetup Group

Autistic Adults of the Okanagan


Mental Health Resources

Autism Mental Health Literacy Project (AM-Help) – Mental Health Literacy Guide for Autism to increase awareness and share knowledge around issues related to Autistic mental health.

Interior Health Authority: Mental Health & Substance Use Services 

Island Health: Mental Health & Substance Use Services 

Fraser Health Authority: Mental Health & Substance Use Services 

Northern Health: Mental Health & Substance Use 

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH): Mental Health Services 

Autism BC Theme Resources: Autism Mental Health 

Autistic Lens:  Reasons Autism Self Diagnosis is Valid 

AutismBC Highlights: Natalie Engelbrecht and Embrace Autism  

In the News  

BC’s Autism Assessment Process is Slow and Expensive 


Looking for More Adult Resources?

Autistic Adulting — AutismBC Resource Blog

Housing Supports for Autistic Adults — AutismBC Resource Blog 

Autism BC Talks Adult Diagnosis  — AutismBC Information Session 2021

Autism Q&A: Transitioning into Adulthood — AutismBC Resource Blog 

Autism BC Talks with Community Living British Columbia (CLBC) — AutismBC Information Session 2021

Autism BC Talks Adult Diagnosis with Dr. Grace Iarocci and Dr. David Worling



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