How Big Is the Spectrum? The Rise in Self-Diagnoses of ASD

The rise of social media has brought mental health into the spotlight, increasing visibility and awareness around conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, depression, and anxiety. This has had the positive effect of connecting many to vital information and creating communities where individuals can share and feel less isolated. However, this wealth of awareness and information has led to a new trend: more and more people are identifying with mental health labels, including ASD, and diagnosing themselves based on content they encounter online. While self-diagnosis can offer a sense of understanding and community, it's important to tread carefully.

The Importance of Clinical Diagnosis for ASD

Self-diagnosis of autism can be a double-edged sword. Understanding oneself is crucial, and for some, self-diagnosis is the first step towards this journey, providing a framework to request the necessary support. But when it comes to conditions like ASD, a clinical diagnosis carries significant benefits, including access to tailored support services, therapies, and accommodations. Despite these advantages, many hesitate to seek a formal diagnosis due to stigma, fear of labels, or the daunting prospect of navigating the healthcare system.

Diagnosing autism, especially in adults, requires a nuanced approach that goes beyond a simple checklist. The process is intricate, involving a comprehensive evaluation of behaviors, patterns, and impacts on daily life. The challenge is compounded by the scarcity of specialists trained to recognize autism in adults, making the journey towards diagnosis and support a complex one.

The Risks of Self-Diagnosis

Venturing into self-diagnosis comes with its hazards. Autism is a complex condition that can co-occur with other neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders, such as ADHD or anxiety. A professional will have a large knowledge base of many conditions, possibly identifying co-occurring conditions that might otherwise go unnoticed. Misdiagnosing oneself could lead to overlooking other underlying issues or adopting strategies that may not be beneficial in the long run.

Additionally, diagnosing yourself with ASD can lead you into the territory of confirmation bias - a tendency to search for, interpret, remember, and collect information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs while disregarding or downplaying contradictory evidence. If you believe you have autism and feel that it explains your past struggles, you may become overly focused on finding evidence that supports this belief. This determination to align with an autism diagnosis might lead you to overlook or minimize symptoms that don't fit the ASD profile. This selective attention can skew your understanding of your experiences and potentially lead you away from exploring other explanations or conditions that might also account for your challenges.

When you approach a mental healthcare provider with an open mind, presenting your symptoms without the influence of bias, it allows for a comprehensive evaluation. This unbiased sharing ensures that all aspects of your mental health are considered, not just those that align with a pre-determined label. A professional can assess your experiences holistically, considering a wide range of possibilities and ensuring that the diagnosis accurately reflects your situation. This open dialogue is crucial for receiving the most appropriate care and support tailored specifically to your unique needs and circumstances.

The Impact of Self-Diagnosis on the Autistic Community

The trend of self-diagnosis also affects the broader autistic community, which holds mixed views. While many who self-diagnose do so from a place of genuine self-exploration, there's concern that a superficial understanding of autism could dilute the conversation, strain resources, and overshadow the diverse realities of those on the spectrum. This can lead to frustration within the community, as individuals who've undergone rigorous diagnostic processes may feel that their experiences are being generalized or trivialized. Those who have faced immense challenges due to their ASD may feel offended that it’s now “in vogue” to be autistic.

Testing & Therapy for Autism at Medens Health

The journey to understanding oneself in the context of ASD is deeply personal and varied. Many who self-diagnose after years of feeling out of place feel immense relief and a newfound sense of identity upon discovering communities that share their experiences. However, the path of self-diagnosis is filled with potential mistakes and misunderstandings. It’s crucial for those exploring their identity to approach self-diagnosis with caution and consider the benefits of professional evaluation.

At Medens Health, we understand the complexities of navigating mental health, especially when it comes to conditions like ASD. Our team is here to support you through the ASD testing and therapy process, offering a compassionate, professional approach to help you better understand yourself and your challenges. Whether you suspect you may be on the spectrum or are taking the first steps toward understanding your mental health, we're here to guide you on your journey toward well-being.

If you suspect you may be on the spectrum, reach out to Medens Health for testing and therapy. Call or text (833) 624-5400, fill out our contact form, or get started here.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.