Autism spectrum conditions comprise a set of early-onset neurodevelopmental syndromes with a prevalence of 1% across all ages. First diagnosis in adulthood has finally become recognised as an important clinical issue due to the increasing awareness of autism, broadening of diagnostic criteria, and the introduction of the spectrum concept. Thus, the idea of a lost generation of people who were previously excluded from a diagnosis of classic autism has arisen. Making a first diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions in adults can be challenging for practical reasons (eg, no person to provide a developmental history), developmental reasons (eg, the acquisition of learnt or camouflaging strategies), and clinical reasons (eg, high frequency of co-occurring disorders). The diagnostic process includes referral, screening, interviews with informants and patients, and functional assessments. In delineating differential diagnoses, true comorbidities, and overlapping behaviour with other psychiatric diagnoses, particular attention should be paid to anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosis, personality disorders, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Possible misdiagnosis, especially in women, should be explored. The creation of supportive, accepting, and autism-friendly social and physical environments is important and requires a coordinated effort across agencies and needs support from government policies.
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