Diagnostic criteria are those behaviours, signs, symptoms and tests that are used to determine a health diagnosis.  There are two internationally recognised manuals used for the diagnosis of mental health conditions: The DSM-5 and the ICD-11. The latter also covers physical health conditions. These two manuals are then used as the foundation for individually developed tests for each condition/illness/disease/disorder.

For instance, these are examples of the blandly named diagnostic tools used by medical professionals, such as clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, in the diagnosis of autism:

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)

Autism Diagnostic interview – Revised (ADI-R) and the

Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO).

There is a self-test called the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ). The AQ-10 is limited to 10 questions and the AQ-50 is the full test, with 50 questions. These are intended as very basic self-assessment questionnaires intended to give you a starting point to take to your GP if you consider that you may be autistic. It is far from being a sophisticated test! But if completing one gives you more confidence in going to your GP, armed with it, then it’s worth completing. It also gives your GP supporting evidence when referring you to an NHS psychiatrist for further assessment.

Please though, don’t rule out autism if the test doesn’t suggest it, despite you your suspicions. It really is just a guide, and it is known, by everyone, to be flawed; it’s just one of many tools. If reliable assessments for autism and ADHD were that easy, I’m sure that the NHS would be using them and speeding up their vast waiting lists!

This is the adult self-assessment questionnaire AQ-10

This is the full version of the self-assessment questionnaire AQ-50

Click here for the NICE guidelines for diagnosing adult autism – as you will see from this information, medical professionals are advised that completion of the AQ-10 is not essential. They are more concerned with using more personalised information. Importantly, this is largely information provided by YOU.