Diagnostic Interview Resource for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

This training resource is designed to help mental health professionals conduct a diagnostic interview to ascertain whether an adult has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

On these pages you can find out how to use the resource, make a start and access further resources relating to ASD.

This electronic based training resource can be used as a stand-alone resource.

Areas of assessment

The video extracts in this resource have been organised to reflect the Diagnostic Interview Guide (PDF).

Below you can see what topics are covered by the interview guide and navigate to the desired section.

This section explores how the subject spends their time, what interests them and what routines they might have. This includes the extent to which they can cope with change that is outside their control.

One way of adapting to a messy world is to establish an unchanging routine. These routines can be repetitious (such as flushing the toilet a set number of times) and they can be calming.

However, what is allowed, can grow to include and dominate the life of others around them. For many, getting predictability into their lives can extend to events happening at set times of day (‘dinner must not be 5 minutes late’, ’you can set your clock by the time he does things’) or being very ordered (‘he would know if I moved something an inch and be very upset’).

These routines are not seen by the person as foreign or undesirable or having to be done to avoid problems - they do not have the element of resistance found in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). However, OCD can co-exist with ASD – they are not mutually exclusive.

In this section, we address 4 main topics.

Choose from the options below to watch the video clips in that topic.

Near the end of the diagnostic guide there is a page to record your observations of any unusual behaviours during the interview.

The clinician also needs to ask about what happens outside the interview.

Hopes for the future

It's good to end on a positive note, looking towards the future. Asking about their future hopes will also test whether the person can explore an imaginary future or whether (s)he relies on standard phrases and images, for example: "I want to be married with a house and a job".

Issues around diagnosis

The last page of the guide provides an opportunity for you to note the points that seem particular to the diagnosis, in particular those that match to the criteria agreed in ICD10 or DSM-IV.

When is ‘qualitive impairment’ significant?

The impairment should be severe enough to cause distress to self or others or to prevent the person living a life that might be expected by peers of similar practical abilities.

Is it Asperger Syndrome or Autism?

Asperger Syndrome is defined by the presence of normal early development, something that is very unusual (most people with ASD have some degree of speech delay). This distinction makes little difference to the eventual outcome and it is proposed that the term be dropped from DSM-V. However, the diagnosis has gained a social function and, as such, is likely to continue in informal use.

"He may look autistic but it is because he has poor attachment/Down Syndrome"

ASD is a diagnosis based on behaviour – the diagnosis does not identify an underlying cause of that behaviour. It may coexist with other disorders and also be confused with them.

Find out about other ASD resources available online.
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