Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Barriers to Formal Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102410-1


Factors that complicate the process of receiving a medical diagnosis of “autism spectrum disorder” by a qualified professional for autistic adults who were not diagnosed in childhood.

Historical Background

Known prevalence of autism in adults is approximately 1.1%, but this is likely underestimated (Brugha et al. 2016). Experts estimate that as many as 40% of autistics are not diagnosed in childhood (Baron-Cohen et al. 2009). Those at highest risk of being misdiagnosed or not recognized during childhood include females, middle-aged and older adults, and individuals with more subtle traits and without cognitive or language delays.

In general, females are at a disproportionate risk of misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, and not receiving a diagnosis compared to males across age groups (Loomes et al. 2017). There are many theories on the causes of missed diagnosis of autism among females. Emerging evidence shows a slightly different clinical presentation of autism among females,...

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References and Reading

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Nursing & Health SciencesUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA