Self-Diagnosis in Adults with Presumptive Autism Spectrum Disorder
Objectives: the aim of the present study is to study the characteristics of self-diagnosed individuals who subsequently obtained a formal ASD diagnosis.
Methods:: 89 subjects who self-diagnosed themselves with ASD were evaluated by means of clinical interview for DSM 5 and standardized tests (ADOS 2 module 4, ADI-R if caregivers were available, cognitive tests). Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were obtained for each subject.
Results: among self-diagnosed subjects only the 58.4% (n=52) obtained a formal diagnosis of ASD. These subjects showed low severity of symptoms according to DSM 5 (level 1: 57.7%; level 2: 40.4%), were more frequently males (71.2%), unemployed (52.9%) and single (90.4%). Nearly half of self-diagnosed subjects with a confirmed ASD had received at least one previous psychiatric diagnosis other than ASD (47.1%). Only 28.8% were on psychotropic medications. In stepwise logistic regression analysis, presence of a confirmed diagnosis in self-diagnosed subjects was significantly predicted only by age at evaluation (B=-0,086, SE=0,023, p<0.001).
Conclusions: There is an increase in ASD self-diagnosis in adulthood. This phenomenon may be link to increase knowledge and popularity of ASD in the media and may eventually lead to an increased request of formal diagnosis. However, ASD symptoms in adult not previously diagnosed may be subtler and covert, thus requiring trained clinicians.