Getting Assessed for Autism

Jul 04, 2024By The Autistic Autism Consultant
The Autistic Autism Consultant

Getting assessed for autism as an adult can be quite stressful. 


You will need to be assessed at a testing center or by someone who is licensed to do testing. These folks are called PsyDs. It's not unusual for these appointments to take many months to schedule. I waited about 18 months for my assessment. Common wait time is anywhere from 3-6 months in the southeast. 

Once you get scheduled there are usually 3 sessions with the tester.

The first session is usually a virtual intake that lasts around an hour.

The second session is usually important and where the actual testing is done. The testing process can take between 2 and 4 hours depending on which tests are being given. Someone should drive you to this test because the process itself can be very dysregulating. The test was designed by neurotypical people, so for those of us who are neurodivergent the questions can be confusing and/or annoying. The video below does a lovely job of illustrating that. 

Another challenge about autism testing is how unclear it can be to have neurotypical people administering the test. It's easy for those of us who are neurodivergent to misinterpret the test questions due to the way that they are asked. 

I've sent quite a few clients that I'd been working with for months out for formal testing and had them come back without an autism diagnosis for this reason. This happens more often with females and high-masking people.

Now I only refer to test centers that I know are well-qualified, understand why they are asking the questions, and aren't just hurrying through.

Asking someone who's autistic to do anything that involves being asked repeated questions by a stranger without feedback on whether they are answering correctly would be tortuous under the most benign of circumstances. Asking them to do it when their diagnosis and sense of self is dependent on how they answer is, to say the least stressful. 

I recommend that the person being assessed for autism does not drive on the day of testing. Has someone supportive with them to handle executive functioning tasks after testing, like making meals, reminding them to take medications, etc. I don't recommend having anything scheduled after testing and in general, that day should be as "low demand" as possible.

I'd be interested to hear what other tips anyone might have to add to this blog.