Many of us have watched “Love on the Spectrum,” the Netflix show characterizing the dating journeys of autistic adults. The show was so popular and insightful, it encouraged many to wonder if the challenges they face in their own lives could be due to neurodivergence. But the question loomed: How would one even begin to find out and, if they are diagnosed, what would the next step be? 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex disorder characterized by differences in communication, social functioning, and behavior. 

Screening for ASD can help diagnose and provide support and resources as early in life as possible. Many adults may not be aware they have ASD until later in life when symptoms become more pronounced or at least more noticeable to them. Earlier diagnosis can help individuals receive resources that can increase their quality of life such as therapy, social skills training, job coaching, and supportive housing.   

Not all people with autism will need services and support. Sometimes just receiving the diagnosis can help put things into a different perspective.   

There are several steps that adults can take to receive a diagnosis of ASD and access resources and support. Firstly, they may wish to consult with their primary care physician for a referral for an evaluation. There are several specialists in the Philadelphia area who base their practices on the evaluation and treatment of autism as well as several colleges and universities that may offer testing at low to no cost in their psychology clinics.   

Local nonprofits and organizations dedicated to supporting autistic adults often hold seminars, workshops, and online forums to provide education and support. Online sites such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the Pa. Dept. Health’s Autism Services are also good sources of information to those in need. 

Finally, neurodivergent individuals often qualify to receive resources and support from the government. Many states have laws requiring schools and communities to provide assistance to those who need it. The government also provides a range of services and benefits such as housing assistance, vocational training, and employment services. The City of Philadelphia Office of Vocational Rehabilitation provides funding for vocational training and college courses, as well as job search assistance and on-the-job support. 

 Evaluation and screening in adulthood is helpful to start the process of support. The more support one receives, the better the outcomes for people being who they were meant to be in the best way possible.   

Author: Shannon Ruane M.S., CRC, LPC