What tests are available for adults?
There are many questionnaires available for adults. Since adult behaviour is more difficult to assess than that of children, these tests are most useful in helping to make a diagnosis in adulthood. If a severe form of autism exists, it is diagnosed in childhood. This implies that forms of autism in adulthood are usually milder and the person can lead a normal life despite the disease, even if it is marked by limitations. The most common limitations are found in social interaction, in relationships or at work.
The ADOS (Diagnostic Observation Scale for Autistic Disorders) is a test in which a trained examiner observes the child in various situations. The test can be performed from the age of two years. The child is exposed to different social situations to assess his or her behaviour and to detect social or linguistic deficits.
If possible, the situations should be standardised to ensure that the test is as objective as possible. The ADOS test is a common test for children with a probable Austism Spectrum Disorder and is usually conducted by child psychiatrists or trained psychologists. It takes about 30 to 75 minutes.
The face test is one of the best known tests related to autism. Since an important symptom of autism spectrum disorder is the misjudgment of other people’s emotions and reduced empathy, this test aims to detect emotions. In this test, the patient is shown successively pictures of faces with the emotions happy, sad and angry, which he/she must recognise correctly. If the patient is not able to do this, this can confirm the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder.
Which doctor tests autism?
For children the so-called U-examinations at the paediatrician are planned. The health of the child is checked at regular intervals and both a screening for common diseases and the development of the child is observed. There are the examinations U1-U9 as well as J1.
U1 is carried out immediately after birth by the midwife or a paediatrician. The remaining U-examinations are carried out by the paediatrician. In most cases, abnormal behaviour of the child is noticed during this examination.
The further diagnosis and assessment is then usually no longer carried out by the paediatrician, but by a child and adolescent psychiatrist. It is also possible for parents to recognise abnormal behaviour of their child themselves. In this case, it is advisable to first consult the treating paediatrician, as the latter usually knows the child from birth and the child concerned also has a relationship of trust with the doctor. The paediatrician can then take all further steps at his discretion.