Prevalence rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have been rising over the last 20 years, with most recent estimate suggesting 1 in 54 children at age 8 have been diagnosed with ASD (CDC, 2016). While there have been important strides in our understanding and early identification of ASD in children, less is known about ASD in adults. Resources for evaluation and diagnosis were not available at the same level in the past, and many adults living with ASD are experiencing difficulties without an adequate understanding of themselves and potentially reduced access to services for them and their families.
Adults with ASD experience higher rates of psychiatric comorbidities than the general population, making differential diagnosis of ASD itself more challenging. Adults with ASD also often experience difficulties with relationships, educational and occupational attainment, and living independently. Identification of ASD in adults is essential to provide adequate treatment, support, and resources.
- Participants will learn about the factors that complicate or delay diagnosis of ASD in adults, including differentials/comorbidities, clinician assumptions, and environmental factors.
- Participants will learn about the importance of diagnosis of ASD in adults.
- Participants will expand their knowledge of how the core symptoms of ASD manifest in individuals (particularly in those who are “high functioning”) with specific examples.
- Participants will learn strategies for assessment and identification of ASD in adults.
- Participants will learn how to differentiate ASD from other psychiatric comorbidities.
Rachel Orr, PsyD, is a New England native whose training in clinical psychology and neuropsychology was primarily conducted in Baltimore and Boston. She attended graduate school at Loyola University Maryland and trained locally at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Kennedy Krieger Institute, while completing research within an Autism clinic at Children’s National Hospital. She completed internship at the Boston VA with foci in rehabilitation, geriatric psychology, and neuropsychology. She began her postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Partners Consortium at Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals before transitioning into private practice to complete fellowship with balanced focus on her expanding family. Dr. Orr has worked both in private practice and for a local medical center in Maine since then, and currently she serves as the Regional Clinical Assessment Director of New Hampshire and Maine for LifeStance Health. She conducts neuropsychological evaluations across the lifespan, oversees the assessment services for the region, and supervises postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Orr has been a primary or co-author on numerous publications—most related to ASD—and has served (and continues to serve) on numerous committees for professional organizations. She is currently in pursuit of board certification in neuropsychology, as well as further developing her and her family’s recently established Maine farm. In all her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, going camping, and tending to her goats, chickens, quails, and indoor pets too.