Diagnostic criteria are prerequisites for a diagnosis: in the case of neurodivergence, they are the presentations and traits an assessor is looking for when diagnosing a person with a neurodivergent condition.
What happens during an assessment?
During an autism or ADHD assessment, the diagnostic physician should perform a holistic, in-depth overview of the person’s life going back to childhood, and covering how they feel and what their goals are.
While the initial assessment before a referral to a specialist often includes tests, the in-depth assessment uses varied tools. These can be interviews with the person, questionnaires, or talking to people who’ve known them from childhood.
Are the diagnostic criteria biased?
Not all diagnostic processes are as thorough and affirming, unfortunately.
In many countries, “suffering” as a result of a condition is a prerequisite for getting a diagnosis when the neurodivergent experience is more nuanced than that.
Neurodivergent people, especially women also often go undiagnosed because masking and adaptations go unnoticed or are not taken into consideration. Outdated (and honestly, often ableist) views also prevent people from getting diagnosed, as some doctors still think that if someone has a job, they can’t have ADHD, or if they are in a relationship, that immediately rules out Autism.
Furthermore, many autistic and ADHD traits that are required for a diagnosis are often simply how a neurodivergent individual experiences distress when their needs are not met.
Assessment questions also have a tendency to overvalue how the individual’s presentation might be disturbing or uncomfortable for their peers as if someone’s needs are only worthy of support if that means their environment will be less bothered by them.« Back to the Glossary