Diagnosis for Adults

It’s not uncommon for someone to receive a diagnosis of Autism in adulthood.

Not as much was known about autism over 30 years ago.  While diagnostic testing has improved for younger children, our medical community still struggles with identifying women and men with Autism.

Because Autism characteristics are becoming more known to the general population, undiagnosed adults are aware that these characteristics explain their significant life-long experiences and struggles.

The Autism Society Inland Empire has compiled this toolkit for adults seeking a diagnosis or recently receiving a diagnosis to answer some of the common questions we receive.  Click on the graphic for the pdf version, available free to download.  We also have a confidential support group for adults diagnosed later in life or seeking a diagnosis that usually meets once a month.  Check our calendar for the next meeting date.

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People with Autism often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life. Children or adults with ASD might:

  • not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
  • not look at objects when another person points at them
  • have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
  • avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
  • appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
  • be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
  • repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
  • have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
  • not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)
  • repeat actions over and over again
  • have trouble adapting when a routine changes
  • have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
  • lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)

It is not uncommon for us to receive calls from adults who are just discovering they may have autism. The oldest we have heard of is 78 years old! Depending on your insurance, you may need to see a neurologist or a psychologist for an evaluation.

We have compiled these resources below to help an adult who may be on the autism spectrum:

OASIS: Online Asperger’s Syndrome Information and Support. Diagnostic information and resources for treatment. Support areas for families affected by Asperger’s Syndrome.

Liane Holliday – Willey. Professor Liane Holliday Willey is an author, autism consultant, academic researcher, avid horsewoman and owner of an equestrian barn. She has a Doctorate of Education with a specialty in psycholinguistics and learning style differences. Liane likes to share her experiences of living with Asperger’s syndrome with audiences world wide, bringing to each presentation her humor and positive insight along with the real and not so happy memories she has gathered over the years during her stints as a university professor, writer, manure scooper, French fry maker, community volunteer, wife and mother.

Dr. Tony Attwood – author of several books on Asperger’s including Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, provides information on diagnosis, problems of social relations, sensory issues, motor control and other typical issues which face people with Asperger’s and their support networks. The book has now been translated into 20 languages.

Currently, there are no medical test that can diagnose autism. Instead, trained physicians and psychologists administer autism-specific behavioral evaluations.

All children should be screened for developmental delays and disabilities during regular well-child doctor visits at 9 months, 18 months, 24 or 30 months and should be screened specifically for ASD during regular well-child doctor visits at 18 months and 24 months. A developmental screening is a short test to tell if children are learning basic skills when they should, or if they might have delays. During developmental screening the doctor might ask the parent some questions or talk and play with the child during an exam to see how she learns, speaks, behaves, and moves. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a problem.

If the doctor have a concern, he or she may send the child for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. This thorough review may include looking at the child’s behavior and development and interviewing the parents. It may also include a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and other medical testing.

In many areas of California, including the Inland Empire, there is a shortage of physicians who can diagnose Autism. Under the law, patients have the right to schedule with a specialist within three weeks.  It is common for it to take 3 – 9 months before you can get an appointment.  This is too long!

The Autism Health Insurance Project has created a sample appeal letter that you may customize to request a single-case agreement with another qualified autism evaluator. With minor edits, this letter can be adapted to address a need for immediate treatment with a speech, occupational, or other therapists.

According to the California criteria for BHT services you DO NOT have to have a formal autism diagnosis to be eligible to BHT services (ABA therapies).  You do have to meet the following coverage criteria:
1) Be under 21 years of age.
2) Have a recommendation from a licensed physician and surgeon or a licensed psychologist that evidence-based BHT services are medically necessary.
3) Be medically stable.
4) Be without a need for 24-hour medical/nursing monitoring or procedures provided in a hospital or intermediate care facility for persons with intellectual disabilities

The licensed physician and surgeon or licensed psychologist. would be able to make the referral citing that the ABA services were medically necessary to correct or ameliorate behavioral conditions as defined in Section 1905(r).

www.dhcs.ca.gov/formsandpubs/Documents/MMCDAPLsandPolicyLetters/APL2018/APL18-006.pdf

Diagnostic Services

Receiving a medical diagnosis is a personal decision and is based on different factors such as your financial resources and if you will be pursuing government services such as employment, social security, etc. To learn more about getting diagnosed as an adult, read this helpful article and scroll below to the section on getting diagnosed as an adult: Getting an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis / The Diagnostic Process. Another helpful article to read is AASPIRE Toolkit on Getting an Autism Evaluation.

Listed below are professionals and organizations that offer diagnostic services:

AB Psych Consulting – Dr. Anthony Benigno Psychologist
(909) 244-9593
10165 Foothill Blvd STE 3 Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation CDE-ages 2.5 to adults.
Wait time: few weeks
Accepts: IEHP, BLUE SHIELD, AETNA, CASH PAY

Dr. Laurie Montes, PhD
805-746-7136
290 Maple Court, Suite 112, Ventura
Experienced diagnostician that specializes in diagnosing adults regardless
of age.

Autism Heroes
www.myautismheroes.com
(909) 312-3070
420 Brookside Ave, Redlands CA
Psych Diagnostic evaluation. Offers several services including
Diagnosis by a medical doctor for children, behavioral feeding therapy,
and sexuality training. Cash pay

Desert Care Network Neurology – Dr. Muhammd Salim
https://desertcaredocs.com/bios/muhammad-salim-md/
760-771-6166
La Quinta
Yucca Valley
Adults and Children Autism and Epilepsy
Accepts a variety of insurances.

Gunn Psychological
www.gunnpsych.com
909-989-4055
8300 Utica Ave Unit 245 Rancho Cucamonga CA
Psych Diagnostic evaluation. Evaluations for children 12 months and up.
Commercial insurance (each doctor is paneled with different insurance
companies)

Dr. Tanya Mesirow- Licensed Clinical Psychologist
https://drtanyamesirow.com
28991 Old Town Front STE 102 Temecula CA
951-775-4057
Specializes in psychological and neuropsychological assessment with
children, adolescents, and adults demonstrating a variety of
neurological issues, including head injuries, dementias, stroke,
learning disabilities, ADHD, and Autism spectrum disorders. Dr.
Mesirow also sees adults for individual psychotherapy treatment.

Pinnacle Counseling- Murrieta and San Diego
www.pinnaclecounselingca.com
41197 Golden Gate Circle Suite 206 Murrieta, CA 92562
951-396-5701
Offers a Psychological Diagnostic evaluation for ages 2.5 years
through adults. Cash pay only.

Quality Life Group – Dr. Kotomori
www.qualitylifegroup.com
6529 Riverside Ave Ste 133, Riverside
(951) 684 2627
Board certified in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and General
Psychiatry. An expert in the diagnosis and treatment of Psychiatric
Disorders and experienced with cultural issues and how they may
affect the presentation, course, and treatment of psychiatric
conditions.

Riverside Psychiatric Med Group, Dr. Antonius “Tony” Brandon
www.rivpsych.com
5887 Brockton Ave Ste A Riverside, CA
951-275-8500
Can perform a psychological diagnostic evaluation for ages 5 years
through adults. Accepts many insurances and cash pay.

San Diego Brainworks Temecula and San Diego
www.sdbrainworks.com
858-914-1347
Offers psychological diagnostic evaluations, specializing in
Comprehensive Psychoeducational/IEE, Learning Disorder, ADHD &
Autism Evaluations, Neuropsychological Assessments, EHRMS
Assessments, Psychological Testing, & Therapy. Accepts many
insurances and cash pay.

Dr. Ta Tanisha Jones, PsyD
Psychological And Substance Abuse Services, Inc
21250 Box Springs Rd, Suite 203, Moreno Valley, CA
951-335-5858
Diagnosis and substance issues. Takes IEHP.

Dr. Terry Matteo
www.terrymatteophd.com
74-710 HWY 111 Ste 102 Palm Desert CA
(480) 382-4142
Psychological testing for ages 18 months to adults. Cash pay only.

Dr. Victor Cordova PsyD
9033 Baseline Rd Ste A Rancho Cucamonga, CA
909-922-2442
Diagnosis only – Bilingual (Spanish). Accepts only IEHP.

Willowbrooks Behavioral Health
https://willowbrooksbehavioralhealth.com
818-918-6429
Locations in the Inland Empire: Apple Valley, Murrieta, Riverside, and
Upland They only do a 1-hour psych screening for ASD in adults. If
needed they will submit a CDE to IEHP/MOLINA. Also provides mental
health 1-1 counseling /family therapy. All females Psych D (1 bilingual
LMFT) ZOOM only. Currently booking 30-45 days for screening. Takes
IEHP, commercial insurance & cash pay.

On-Line Autism Tests

There are also several free online tests you can take that may indicate whether you are on the Autism spectrum or not. Please note that these online tests do not take the place of a professional diagnosis and only indicate that you may be on the Autism spectrum.

RDOS—Aspie-Quiz:
https://rdos.net/eng/Aspie-quiz.php
According to the website, this test aims to check for broader Autism cluster
(Aspie) and neurotypical traits in adults. Broader Autism clusters traits can
give a reliable indication of Autism spectrum traits before an eventual
diagnosis.

The Ultimate Autism Resource:
https://embrace-autism.com/
Provides additional Autism tests and assessments worth taking a look at.

The Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R):
https://www.aspietests.org/raads/
According to the website, The RAADS-R is a modified version of the Ritvo
Autism Asperger’s Diagnostic Scale (Ritvo et al. 2008). The rationale for its
development was the need for a clinical adjunct diagnostic tool. While
several diagnostic scales for children and adolescents with ASD are
available, only one peer-reviewed scale, The Autism-Spectrum Quotient
(AQ) was designed specifically for adults. Its authors emphasize that it is
useful in identifying Autistic traits and as a screening instrument but not
as a diagnostic tool.