I’m a high school student in America. Recently I was called in to talk to a psychologist because the adults at the school noticed I was having problems. I’ve known I was autistic for about two years now, so I was relieved to finally have a chance to get my diagnosis. But I’m scared – what does this mean? What’s going to happen next? Will the colleges know? What is the psychologist going to tell people? (Some of the things I said are pretty private.) He said he might talk to me again – when?don’t know what’s going on. Will this go on my permanent record? If I do get diagnosed with autism, how is this diagnosis going to work? (Since I’m doing it through my school psychologist.) What tests do I have to take, and through whom? Sorry for dumping this all on you, but I’m really scared and confused.

realsocialskills said:

I’m not familiar enough with high school disability services to know good answers to all of this. Here’s what I do know:

Generally speaking, autism is diagnosed through a neuropsych evaluation. Some of the tests will be autism-specific, and some of them will not be. It takes several hours. They will want to know developmental history (ie: whether you appeared atypical/autistic in any way when you were a small child). They will probably want to talk to your parents and teachers. 

If you are diagnosed with something and the person evaluating you recommends accommodations, the school will have an IEP meeting with your parents to discuss a plan. Depending on the policies in your school district, you may or may not be included in the meeting. (At your age, it’s likely that you will be, especially if you insist).

It’s also possible that you might be referred for a lesser kind of evaluation, or for in-school services that do not require a diagnosis. For instance, if your school thinks that you have handwriting problems, you might be sent for a short occupational therapy evaluation. If your school thinks you have social skills problems, they might want to send you to a social skills group. 

Did you discuss autism specifically with your counselor? Do you know which kind of thing they are trying to refer you for?

Regarding college: I don’t know how much high schools share with colleges. 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network made a guide called Navigating College that has a lot of good information about how college works for autistic people. A lot of it is applicable to high school as well, and it’s definitely relevant to high school students who are considering college.

Do any of y'all know more about how this works for high school students in the US?