Until recently, most people didn’t realize that autism is a spectrum. Low-functioning cases are usually diagnosed in childhood, because they have serious deficiencies in language and social interaction. The high-functioning end of the autism spectrum — also known as Aspergers syndrome — is more subtle. It is usually not diagnosed until adolescence or adulthood.
Symptoms of High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder
People on the autism spectrum have difficulty understanding what other people are thinking or feeling, and may even have trouble understanding where their own feelings are coming from. The social difficulties that this causes often get much worse during the teenage years, when everyone else seems to be mastering social games that feel mysterious. Symptoms of social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder are common.
Other common signs include:
- unusual patterns of eye contact, movement, and facial or verbal tics
- strong focus on a narrow range of interests
- tendency to process details more easily than whole forms or patterns
- mental rigidity — difficulty shifting from one task or expectation to another
Testing for Aspergers Syndrome
There is no single test to identify Autism Spectrum Disorder. A combination of assessments is used to identify social, emotional, and cognitive patterns consistent with this condition while ruling out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. I use:
- Structured clinical interviews designed to assess personal and developmental history, and the types of internal and external experiences common among people who are on the spectrum
- Cognitive testing to identify relative strengths and weaknesses in areas like information processing, abstract reasoning, and language
- Personality testing to understand emotional functioning and cognitive style
- Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, administered to parents and/or teachers, to identify and measure the severity of specific behavioral and adaptive deficits
Benefits of getting tested
People on the autism spectrum often spend large portions of their lives feeling defective, out-of-step, and misunderstood. Whether it confirms or disconfirms the autism diagnosis, this type of testing provides clarity on how to understand and accept yourself, and what steps you can take to feel more at home in the world.
Schedule an appointment
To discuss psychological testing for autism spectrum, or to schedule an appointment, call Psych Lab at (562) 684-1300