There are a number of good reasons to get a formal diagnosis of autism or Asperger syndrome. On this page, we explain what some of the reasons are, and direct you to further information and advice.
Some adults go for a diagnostic assessment purely because they want to know whether they have autism or Asperger syndrome, or not. They may then use this knowledge to find out about the condition, which might help them to understand themselves. They can also tell their friends and family about the diagnosis and give them information about autism, which will help them to understand it too.
Help at work
Some people might want to get a diagnosis because they are having difficulties at work. They may either have problems getting a job, or they might have a job but be worried that they will lose it. Perhaps they feel misunderstood by their colleagues or employers.
With a diagnosis of autism they will be classed as having a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. This means that if they tell their employers about the diagnosis, they will hopefully gain understanding and tolerance. Employers may not know about Asperger syndrome or autism, so an employer information pack is available from our Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104. (There is also a pack to help those who are seeking employment.)
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, employers have a responsibility to make 'reasonable adjustments' for employees who need them. 'Reasonable adjustments' can mean a variety of things: for example, providing clear, written instructions rather than verbal instructions or introducing structure into an employee's day. Some adults will decide to get a diagnosis so that they can ask their employer to make 'reasonable adjustments' for them at work. These adjustments might make them more successful in their job.
Support from social services
Some people may want support or help from their local social services department (social work services in Scotland; or the Health and Social Services Trusts/Boards in Northern Ireland). These services can include help to find a suitable home or a support worker who can assist in day-to-day activities such as shopping, paying bills and rent.
Adults can receive help from social services without a diagnosis by being considered a 'vulnerable adult'. However, having a diagnosis should strengthen your claim for support. (See our information Community care in England, Scotland and Wales or Community care in Northern Ireland for further information, both available to download from www.autism.org.uk/a-z)
There are also autism-specific services where a diagnosis would be needed to access the service; for example, housing which has been specifically designed for people with autism, or social groups for people with autism.
You can search for residential placements in your local area on the Autism Services Directory: www.autism.org.uk/directory
Benefits such as Disability Living Allowance can be applied for without a diagnosis, but applications will be stronger with a clear diagnosis. For more information about benefits, see www.autism.org.uk/benefits
Students with disabilities can claim Disabled Students Allowance. A diagnosis would be needed in order to access this financial support. There is more information about studying in further or higher education on our website: Education: meeting the needs of students in FE and HE, available from www.autism.org.uk/a-z
In summary, it is a personal decision whether to go for a diagnostic assessment or not. However, a clear diagnosis is needed to access ASD-specific services. (If you are interested in getting a diagnosis, contact our Autism Helpline for advice.)
Information on the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 from the Equality and Human Rights Commission at www.equalityhumanrights.com/
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