Preparing for Adult Assessment
Autism assessments for adults are not as structured as those for children. The issue with this is that there is not a standard process for adults in BC. Here are somethings to know while preparing for adult assessment.
Sharing your experience
Many adult assessments rely heavily on childhood behaviours and traits, and your assessor may ask you to bring a parent or childhood caregiver, if possible. They can help describe your childhood attributes, sensitives, and provide any relevant medical information. However, having health care professionals dismiss the person going for an assessment or relying on other’s accounts (even if they are family members) is extremely disheartening. We want you to be empowered to do the assessment process on your own. If you feel overwhelmed, let your assessor know you need a short break.
Trust that the assessor is believing what you say – you should not need to self-induce a meltdown or shut down for a professional to believe that these impact you.
You may have been previously diagnosed/misdiagnosed with other mental health conditions, so familiarise yourself with what autism can look like in an adult:
- Difficulty making conversation
- Difficulty making or maintaining close friendships
- Discomfort during eye contact
- Challenges with regulating emotions
- Extreme interest in one topic
- Frequent monologues on the same subject or subjects
- Hypersensitivity to sounds or smells
- Involuntary noises, such as repetitive throat clearing
- Difficulty understanding sarcasm or idioms
- Lack of inflection when speaking
- Limited interest in only a few activities
- Preference for solitary activities
- Problems reading the emotions of others
- Misunderstanding facial expressions and body language
- Reliance on daily routines and difficulty dealing with change
- Repetitive behaviors
- Social anxiety
- The need to arrange items in a specific order (medicalnewstoday.com, 2022).
Making a list of your autistic traits and real-life examples will help you prepare and better express yourself during your assessment.
Finding the right assessor
When seeking out an assessor, do not be afraid to ask questions and find the right fit for your needs.
Questions to consider:
- How much experience does the assessor have?
- Do you have experience with females?
- Would you fill out the Disability Tax Credit form?
- Do you have experience with adults?
- Are there hidden costs?
- What are the current wait times?
- Could I be added to the cancellation list?
- Will you consider supplemental video or logs in consideration during the assessment?
- What should I expect during the assessment?
Ask if the clinic or assessor has experience with assessments for adults and/or intersections (ie: women, LGBTQ+, indigenous informed). It is quite common for medical professionals to have specialities or areas of focus. If the doctor’s office sends you a history and/or symptom questionnaire prior to the appointment fill it out as completely as possible; providing specific examples where you can. Add any relevant information you feel is important. Make notes regarding what you want to talk about as part of your diagnostic interview, including any questions you have. If you find verbal communication difficult, you can prepare a written summary ahead of time of your autistic signs and behaviours or even prerecord what you want to say ahead of time (musingsofanaspie.com, 2022). If the assessment is causing you stress, try to seek out support for both prior to and after the assessment.
This UK content creator has created an informative video about his autism diagnosis and how he prepared.
Warning: Some profanity.
While you wait for your assessment date, learn about available resources to support you both during and after your diagnosis. You may also want to take some online autism assessments. These are not an official diagnosis but will help you identify autistic traits and gauge approximately where you are on the spectrum. These include the RAADS-R and the AQ, which can be found at Embrace Autism.
Take care of yourself during this time. Tips on autistic calming strategies can be found here
Autism BC Blog: Autistic Adulting
AutismBC Talks: Adult Diagnosis
AutismBC Blog: Next Steps After Adult Diagnosis
AutismBC: Getting Together on the Spectrum
AutismBC: Mental Health Resources
Autism Canada ASD Central Facebook
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Autistics United Canada