This guideline covers diagnosing and managing suspected or confirmed autism spectrum disorder (autism, Asperger’s syndrome and atypical autism) in people aged 18 and over. It aims to improve access and engagement with interventions and services, and the experience of care, for people with autism.

We have also produced guidelines on autism spectrum disorder in under 19s: recognition, referral and diagnosis and autism spectrum disorder in under 19s: support and management.

In June 2021, we amended the recommendations on identification and assessment to clarify that when the Autism-Spectrum Quotient – 10 items (AQ-10) is used to assess for possible autism, the score at which the person should be offered a comprehensive assessment is 6 or above.


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Health and social care professionals (including those in the independent sector)
  • Commissioners and providers
  • Adults with autism and their families, partners and carers 

Is this guideline up to date?

June 2021: We have found no new evidence that affects the recommendations. We are monitoring important initiatives in progress that may affect future service delivery. We will regularly review their potential impact on our autism guidelines. For more information, see the surveillance decision.

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline was previously called autism: recognition, referral, diagnosis and management of adults on the autism spectrum.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian.

All problems (adverse events) related to a medicine or medical device used for treatment or in a procedure should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using the Yellow Card Scheme.

Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with complying with those duties.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)