Should I get an autism diagnosis?

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), affects how a person perceives and interacts with the world. It is characterised by various symptoms and challenges related to social communication, social interaction, and repetitive or restrictive behaviours and interests.


The term 'spectrum' in autism spectrum disorder reflects the wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms that individuals may experience. Some autistic individuals may have significant difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction and may engage in repetitive behaviours. Others may have milder symptoms and function well in certain areas, such as academics or specific interests.

Signs of autism in children

Common signs of autism can emerge in early childhood, often becoming noticeable between the ages of two and three years. These may include:

  • Social difficulties: Challenges understanding and responding to social cues, difficulty forming and maintaining relationships, limited eye contact, and a preference for solitude.
  • Communication challenges: Delayed or impaired language development, difficulty initiating or sustaining conversations, echolalia (repeating words or phrases), and using gestures instead of spoken language.
  • Restricted interests and repetitive behaviours: Engaging in repetitive movements or actions, adherence to strict routines, intense focus on specific interests, and sensory sensitivities (e.g. hypersensitivity to certain sounds, textures, or lights).

While the exact causes of autism are not yet fully understood, research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors play a role in its development. It is important to note that autism is not caused by factors such as parenting styles or vaccines, as some misconceptions may suggest.

Signs of autism in adults

Identifying autism in adults can sometimes be challenging because the signs and symptoms can vary widely and may be less apparent than in childhood. However, certain signs may indicate the presence of autism in adults. These signs include:

  • Social difficulties: They may struggle with social interactions and find it challenging to understand and respond to social cues. They may have difficulty making and maintaining friendships, struggle with small talk or understanding nonverbal communication, and prefer solitude or have a limited social circle.
  • Communication challenges: They may struggle with verbal and nonverbal communication. They may struggle with initiating or sustaining conversations, understanding sarcasm or figurative language, and exhibiting repetitive or unusual speech patterns. Some individuals may have a formal, rigid style of speaking.
  • Restricted interests and repetitive behaviours: They may have intense, narrow interests and engage in repetitive behaviours or routines. They may have specific topics or activities they focus on intensely and may resist any changes to their routines. Some individuals may have sensory sensitivities, such as being hypersensitive to certain sounds, textures, or lights.
  • Difficulty with transitions and change: They may struggle with changes in routine or unexpected transitions. They may find adapting to new environments or situations challenging and prefer predictability and sameness.
  • Sensory sensitivities: Some may have heightened or reduced sensitivity to sensory stimuli. Certain sounds, lights, textures, or smells may overwhelm or bother them. Alternatively, they may seek sensory stimulation and engage in repetitive behaviours like rocking or hand-flapping.
  • Executive function challenges: Difficulties with executive functions, such as organisation, planning, and time management, can be common in autistic adults. They may struggle with prioritising tasks, managing multiple demands, and problem-solving and decision-making.

It is important to note that these signs and symptoms are not exclusive to autism and can be present in other conditions or neurodivergent traits.

Should I get diagnosed?

When considering whether to pursue an autism diagnosis if you suspect you are autistic, there are several arguments for and against obtaining an official diagnosis. It's important to note that the decision ultimately depends on the individual's circumstances, needs, and preferences. 

Here, we'll explore some common arguments for and against seeking an autism diagnosis.

Arguments for getting an autism diagnosis

Validation and self-understanding

Receiving a formal diagnosis can provide validation and a sense of identity for individuals who have long suspected they are on the autism spectrum. It can help explain their unique experiences, challenges, and strengths, fostering self-understanding and self-acceptance.

Access to support and services

An autism diagnosis can open doors to specialised support services and resources. These may include therapies, educational accommodations, support groups, and access to community programs specifically tailored to the needs of autisitc individuals. A diagnosis can help individuals access the appropriate interventions and support to enhance their well-being and quality of life.

Access to accommodations and legal protections

Autistic people are entitled to accommodations and legal protections in areas such as education, employment, and healthcare. A formal diagnosis can provide the necessary documentation to request reasonable accommodations and uphold their rights.

Guidance for self-management and personal growth

A diagnosis can provide individuals with insights into their strengths and challenges, helping them develop strategies for self-management. It can offer guidance on coping mechanisms, communication strategies, and self-advocacy skills, facilitating personal growth and development.

Arguments against getting an autism diagnosis

Personal choice and self-identification

Some individuals may prefer not to pursue a formal diagnosis and instead choose to self-identify as autistic. They may feel that a diagnosis is not necessary for their self-understanding, and they can find support and community through self-help resources, online communities, and autistic-led organisations.

Potential stigma and discrimination

Although society's understanding and acceptance of autism have improved, some people can still have lingering stigma and misconceptions. Some individuals may be concerned about potential discrimination in areas such as employment or personal relationships if their autism diagnosis becomes known.

Emotional impact and uncertainty

Pursuing an autism diagnosis can bring a mix of emotions, including relief, validation, and potentially new challenges. Some individuals may prefer to focus on self-acceptance and personal growth without the additional emotional burden that a formal diagnosis could bring. Others may feel uncertain about the potential impact of a diagnosis on their self-perception and relationships.

Cost and accessibility

Depending on the healthcare system and location, obtaining an autism diagnosis can involve financial costs, wait times, and limited accessibility to qualified professionals for assessment. These factors may be barriers for some individuals in seeking a formal diagnosis.

Ultimately, the decision to seek an autism diagnosis is a personal one that should be based on individual circumstances, needs, and preferences. It can be helpful to consult with healthcare professionals, support groups, or individuals with lived experience to gain insights and perspectives that can inform your decision-making process.

Is counselling worthwhile, even if I decide not to go for a diagnosis?

Yes, counselling can be valuable and beneficial even if you do not have a formal diagnosis. Counselling offers a supportive and non-judgemental space where you can explore and address various personal, emotional, and psychological challenges or concerns.

Here are some reasons why counselling can be worthwhile, regardless of whether you have a diagnosis:

  • Emotional support: Counseling provides an opportunity to discuss and process your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a safe and confidential environment. A counsellor can help you navigate difficult emotions, enhance self-awareness, and develop coping strategies.
  • Self-exploration and personal growth: Counseling allows you to gain insights into your thoughts, behaviours, and patterns. It can help you better understand yourself, your strengths, and areas for growth. Counselling can assist in enhancing self-esteem, building resilience, and improving overall well-being.
  • Developing coping skills: Regardless of a specific diagnosis, counselling can help you learn and practice effective coping strategies to manage stress, anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges. A counsellor can provide you with tools and techniques to navigate daily life and promote emotional well-being.
  • Relationship and communication skills: Counseling can be valuable for improving interpersonal relationships, whether they are with family members, friends, or colleagues. A counsellor can help you develop healthy communication skills, set boundaries, and navigate conflict resolution.
  • Life transitions and decision-making: Counseling can support you during significant life changes, such as career transitions, relationship changes, or loss. A counsellor can assist you in exploring options, clarifying goals, and making informed decisions that align with your values and aspirations.
  • Stress management: Counseling can provide strategies for managing stress and building resilience. It can help you identify and address sources of stress in your life, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and improve overall stress management skills.

Remember that counsellors are trained professionals who can help you explore your concerns, regardless of whether you have a specific diagnosis. They can provide guidance, support, and therapeutic interventions tailored to your needs and goals. If you are considering counselling, contact a mental health professional who can discuss your situation and help determine the most appropriate approach for your well-being.

Can Hope Therapy & Counselling Services help?

At Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, we understand that self-discovery and understanding are integral to personal growth and well-being. We proudly offer a dedicated team of counsellors passionate about supporting adults who are or suspect they may be autistic. 

Our compassionate and experienced therapists provide a safe space for exploration, validation, and growth. Through tailored counselling services, we aim to empower individuals on their journey of self-discovery and help them navigate the unique challenges and strengths associated with autism.

  • A welcoming and understanding environment: Our specialist autism team is committed to creating a welcoming and non-judgmental environment. Self-discovery can be filled with questions, doubts, and emotions. Our counsellors are trained to provide a supportive and empathetic space where you can freely explore your experiences, concerns, and aspirations.
  • Validation and self-understanding: Suspecting that you may be autistic can be a significant step towards self-understanding and self-acceptance. Our counsellors work collaboratively with you to validate your experiences and provide insights into autism-related traits and challenges. Through dialogue and exploration, we aim to foster a deep understanding of your unique strengths, difficulties and how they may relate to autism.
  • Tailored support and coping strategies: Our autism team at Hope Therapy & Counselling Services is dedicated to offering personalised support. We recognise that everyone's experiences are unique, and our counsellors take the time to understand your needs, goals, and challenges. Together, we can develop effective coping strategies that empower you to manage sensory sensitivities, social interactions, and other aspects of daily life.
  • Emotional well-being and mental health: Living with the uncertainty and emotional impact of suspecting autism can be challenging. Our therapists help you navigate these emotions, promoting your emotional well-being and mental health. Through a combination of evidence-based therapeutic approaches and a person-centred approach, we address concerns such as anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and the emotional impact of autism-related experiences.
  • Self-advocacy and empowerment: We believe in fostering self-advocacy and empowerment. Our autism team equips you with effective communication skills, self-advocacy strategies, and tools to enhance self-confidence. We encourage and support you in asserting your needs, finding your voice, and navigating the various aspects of life, including relationships, education, and employment.

If you suspect you may be autistic, Hope Therapy & Counselling Services is here to support your journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and personal growth. Our dedicated autism team provides a nurturing and understanding space where you can explore your experiences, develop coping strategies, and enhance your emotional well-being. 

Together, we can navigate the unique challenges and strengths associated with autism, empowering you to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. Take the first step towards hope and self-understanding by contacting our team today.

To find out more or book an appointment with one of our team, get in touch today.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Ian Stockbridge is the founder and lead counsellor at Hope Therapy and Counselling Services. 

As an experienced Counsellor, Ian recognised a huge societal need for therapeutic services that were often not being met. As such the 'Hope Agency'was born and its counselling team now offers counselling and therapeutic support throughout the UK.

Show comments

Find a therapist dealing with Autism

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals