Getting an Autism Diagnosis in the UK
13 Mar 2023
Sep 8, 2023
Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects how a person acts and communicates with the world around them. Approximately 1.1% of people are autistic and everyone experiences autism differently.
Read on to understand why someone might seek a diagnosis and the process they would have to go through. You can also look at Noetic’s Guide to Adult Autism Diagnosis for a more in-depth explanation of the diagnosis process.
Why might someone want an autism diagnosis?
People might seek a diagnosis for different reasons. Often, a formal diagnosis can make it easier to access support and accommodations in their place of work, study or other settings. A diagnosis might also help someone understand why they may be struggling in certain areas and provide insight into how to manage and overcome those challenges. Individuals may also feel that a formal diagnosis helps them to better connect to the autistic community. Understanding your mind better can help build self-awareness and self-esteem.
Before seeking a diagnosis
Understanding your traits, as well as those associated with autism, can help you decide whether or not to seek a diagnosis. It can also prepare you to communicate effectively with your GP or specialist doing the assessments. Think about taking these steps to do this before seeking a diagnosis:
1️⃣ Explore whether you have the traits that fit the profile of autism by learning more about autism and completing the AQ10 (an autism screener).
2️⃣ Reflect on your own experiences and find examples of when you may or may not have fit the signs of autism and how it might have impacted your daily life.
3️⃣ If you feel comfortable, speak to people who know you (e.g. family members, friends, colleagues and teachers) to also get opinions that can help you build a picture of your symptoms
Once you've completed these steps, if you still believe your profile fits with traits of autism and you want to get a diagnosis, you can explore the different routes to getting diagnosed.
Consult your GP👩⚕️
Speak to your GP or any other health professional you see regularly.
Bring examples of the observations you have made that have made you think you might be autistic. You could also say why you think a diagnosis would be beneficial to you.
Ask them to refer you for an assessment.
You’ll likely be referred to a multidisciplinary team for diagnosis.
There are lots of different assessment tools, but you will likely be asked about any struggles you’re facing or have to fill in a questionnaire.
The team might want to talk to learn about your childhood from someone close to you.
The team will have a look at your medical history for any other health problems.
Based on the assessment, the team will decide whether or not to make a diagnosis.
They might tell you this on the day of the assessment, over the phone or in a written report.
The report should include the outcome of the assessment and might describe some of your strengths and struggles.
If the report is difficult to understand, give the team a call and ask them to talk you through it.
Your team should offer follow-up support after diagnosis which can be useful for any questions or to discover other support services.
There are lots of other support options available that may be easier to access if you now have a diagnosis.
Diagnosis route options
Autism diagnosis is available on the NHS. Be aware that there can be long waiting lists, so you might want to seek out other support during that time.
Getting privately diagnosed means you or an employer would need to pay for the assessment. If you are privately funding the assessment, some places will let you self-refer. Although some teams still have waiting lists, accessing an assessment privately typically means you don’t have to wait as long.
A full assessment typically costs around £2,000. Prices vary between clinicians so it's a good idea to enquire about what to expect (assessment, support and waiting times) at several different clinics.
If you want to learn more about what to expect during an autism assessment, or if you are wondering whether to seek a diagnosis, have a look at Noetic’s Guide to Adult Autism Assessment or join Noetic’s community to talk to Noetic’s experts and the neurodivergent community.