Common Symptoms Of Autism In Adults
The most common signs of the disorder include:
- Finding it hard to keep to social norms in situations.
- You dont feel that youre able to keep conversations going.
- Its hard for you to meet new people and talk to them.
- You feel like you cannot share your interests and hobbies with people.
- You find it hard to share how you feel.
- People often find you uninterested, even when you dont mean to be.
- Feel very anxious in social situations.
- You often prefer being on your own and find it hard to be around people.
- Prefer your routine and find it hard when you have to change how you do things.
- You cannot show body language, facial expressions, and other signs
- It is hard for you to control your emotions.
You do not need to tick all the boxes in order to have autism.
Types Of Asd Screening Instruments
There are a variety of instruments used when screening a child for autism spectrum disorder. Oftentimes the doctor will ask parents questions about the childs symptoms to screen for ASD. Other screening instruments combine information from parents with the doctors own observations of the child.
Examples of screening instruments for toddlers and preschoolers include:
- Checklist of Autism in Toddlers
- Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers
- Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year-Olds
- Social Communication Questionnaire
Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales .
To screen for ASD or Asperger syndrome in older children, the doctor may rely on different screening instruments, such as:
- Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire
- Australian Scale for Aspergers Syndrome
- Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test
Who Should Diagnose Your Child
With so many possible options, who is the right person to diagnose your child? The answer depends, to a large degree, upon who is available. Depending on where you live, you may find that there is a long wait to see a developmental pediatrician, while you can get in to see an experienced child psychologist almost right away. While you might be more impressed with the developmental pediatrician’s credentials, you might decide that the wait is simply too long. If your child really is autistic, early intervention can be very effectiveand the earlier your child starts therapy the better his outcomes are likely to be.
Another issue to consider is money. You may discover that, while a neurologist is covered by insurance, a psychologist is not. In some states, early intervention programs provide free multidisciplinary evaluations in other states, such evaluations may be hard to access.
A word of advice from highly experienced psychologist Dr. Robert Naseef: even if your initial diagnosis comes from a psychologist, it may be worth your while to also consult an M.D. The reason is more political than medical: without an M.D. behind your child’s diagnosis, says Naseef, your local school district may not provide an appropriate array of services.
Don’t Miss: Can Autistic Adults Get Married
Autistic Adults And Their Partners
Some adults with autism are capable of maintaining successful long-term friendships and relationships. However, these relationships are not free from certain challenges.
Usually, when an adult is diagnosed with autism, the diagnosis may also follow their childs diagnosisdealing with the initial shock of the diagnosis and the lifestyle that it brings with it may be difficult for the partner to process. Counselling and therapy often help the couple cope with the challenges that are to come.
Other issues that can creep into the relationship include:
- Communication breakdowns
The partner may need space, others to talk to, supports and time apart to pursue the things they hold dear to themselves.
How Autism Is Diagnosed
There is no simple medical test for autism, and there are many disorders that look similar to autism . Because of this, diagnosis is based on a combination of parent interviews, non-medical tests, observation, and professional judgment. Evaluators will check on your child’s developmental stage, language acquisition, imitative skills, and cognitive skills. That’s why experience, in addition to training, can be critical in providing a meaningful diagnosis.
Also Check: Mild Autistic Symptoms
References Further Reading And Websites
- Great Britain, Autism Act 2009 . London: TSO.
- Department of Health, . Fulfilling and rewarding lives, a national strategy for adults with autism in England. London: TSO.
- National Audit Office, . Supporting People with Autism Through Adulthood. London: TSO.
- Department of Health, . Valuing people now: a new three-year strategy for people with learning disabilities. London: TSO.
- The National Autistic Society
- The Hoffman Foundation for Autism:
Autism In Men And Women: There Are Gender Differences
The symptoms are different for men and women.
Autism is diagnosed up to 5 times more often in males compared to females. It is unclear exactly why this is the case. Some expert has suggested that women are better able to mask or camouflage their symptoms. Others have suggested that the rules around diagnosing women need to change. That we should have different criteria for men and women.
Also Check: Articles On Autism In Children
Autism In Adults: Difference To Keep In Mind
Autism can look very different for different people.
- Some may have highly successful careers in demanding professions, such as video game production, art creation, robotics, and more.
- Others may attend day programs while working part-time jobs.
- Those with level 3 deficits may not be able to work due to their condition and live in assisted-living facilities.
- Some can be married, raise children and be highly involved with their young families
- Some may be unmarried, partnered, live with their parents or live alone following pursuits that give them great joy.
People can fall anywhere on the autism spectrum, which is why the treatment protocol is different for different people.
Autism And Understanding The Emotions Of Other People
An autistic person may find it hard to understand the emotions of other people. Emotions are interpreted by subtle messages sent by facial expression, eye contact and body language. These are often missed or misinterpreted by an autistic person. Because of this, autistic people might be mistakenly perceived as being rude or unfeeling. Autistic people may find it difficult to understand how others perceive their behaviour.
Also Check: Pivotal Response Training Certification
Assessment For Autism Diagnosis
A formal diagnosis is done by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or neuropsychologist who does adult ASD assessments. A good place to start to find such a person is through your local autism society or by contacting the governing body for that profession. Most have a college or association and they may be able to provide you with some names of people in your area. You can also ask around, maybe through members of a support group. How did they get their diagnosis who did it? If there is a local university or medical teaching hospital, there may be a psychology department you can be referred to.
If a formal assessment is too expensive, contact the local autism society or services organization to see if they have someone on staff or a consulting psychologist. Some universities, hospitals or clinical centers offer assessments by supervised graduate students who need practical experience in diagnosing. If you are in on-going therapy for other issues, a therapist may suggest the possibility of ASD and be willing to give a diagnosis.
Keep in mind that there is no standardized screening tool tailored to adults that is universally endorsed. Some of the autism tests specifically designed for adults are: ADOS 2 Module 4, ADI-R, 3Di Adult, OCI-R, AFQ, SRS 2, RAADS-14, AdAS Spectrum.
If You Get An Autism Diagnosis
If you are diagnosed as autistic, you may have a lot of questions. You might be wondering how you can find out more about your condition, meet other autistic people or access services and support.
Some people find post-diagnostic support valuable. Some diagnostic teams and professionals offer follow-up services after diagnosis and might be able to answer your questions and point you towards support services. However, not all do this.
Support does not automatically follow diagnosis, but having a formal diagnosis does mean that you are more likely to be able to accessservicesand claim anybenefitsyou are entitled to. Not everyone feels they need further support for some people, simply getting a diagnosis is enough.
Also Check: Adhd And Autism Comorbidity In Adults
Diagnosis In Young Children
Diagnosis in young children is often a two-stage process.
Stage 1: General Developmental Screening During Well-Child Checkups
Every child should receive well-child check-ups with a pediatrician or an early childhood health care provider. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for developmental delays at their 9-, 18-, and 24- or 30-month well-child visits and specifically for autism at their 18- and 24-month well-child visits. Additional screening might be needed if a child is at high risk for ASD or developmental problems. Those at high risk include children who have a family member with ASD, have some ASD behaviors, have older parents, have certain genetic conditions, or who were born at a very low birth weight.
Parents experiences and concerns are very important in the screening process for young children. Sometimes the doctor will ask parents questions about the childs behaviors and combine those answers with information from ASD screening tools, and with his or her observations of the child. Read more about screening instruments on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Children who show developmental problems during this screening process will be referred for a second stage of evaluation.
Stage 2: Additional Evaluation
This second evaluation is with a team of doctors and other health professionals who are experienced in diagnosing ASD.
This team may include:
The evaluation may assess:
- Blood tests
What Usually Happens During A Diagnostic Evaluation
Your provider’s evaluation of you might take anywhere from two days to two or more months, depending on the method your provider uses, and how busy he or she is. The provider doing your assessment may do the following:
- Ask you questions
- Ask you to take a series of tests
- Ask you to complete questionnaires about your autistic traits such as sensory issues, or other things that may relate to autism
- After getting your permission and if possible, interview your parents, other family members, or close friends who know you well or can give information about your childhood development
- Explore other possible diagnosis, for example, ADHD, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, or learning disabilities.
Don’t Miss: Low Functioning Aspergers
Receiving Services Appropriate To Their Needs
Adults with Asperger’s syndrome may need support with day to day living . If they are having these needs met it may be by people who do not understand Asperger syndrome and the specific difficulties associated with it. With a diagnosis, you may be able to access autism-specific services if they exist in your area.
How Could I Reach Adulthood Without Realizing Im Autistic
Due to financial factors, long waiting lists, misdiagnosis or even outdated ideas relating to gender, there are large numbers of autistic adults who never received a formal diagnosis. Without a full understanding of themselves, these individuals likely have grown up with a lot of anxiety due to sensory overload or the stress of masking.
Some autistic adults may even have spent time in to psychiatric units when autistic burnout is mistaken for a nervous breakdown. This can lead to being misdiagnosed with a personality disorder or even being given incorrect medication. These combined issues also mean that difficulty entering and keeping long term employment is frequent problem. Since there is no public route for pursuing an adult diagnosis, they may be forced to go private, which may be too expensive for them to access.
Also Check: What Color Stands For Autism
How To Deal With Autism In Adults
Adults with ASD have certain traits which make life difficult for them. They are different.
Which makes it challenging for them to get through their daily life without struggles. But there are ways to work with adults with autism to ensure they receive the best treatment possible.
If you are working with an adult with autism, the first thing to do is to learn and educate yourself about ASD. This will eliminate conflicts in the work environment by minimizing misunderstandings.
Autism causes issues in the individuals communication. Adults with autism who are high-functioning can speak fluently with high level of vocabulary.
But those on the lower part of the spectrum may be non-verbal or may only use sounds to communicate. Make sure that you give these adults sufficient amount of time to communicate and dont force the communication.
Autistic adults may not be able to understand nuances or wordplays while communicating. Try to avoid sarcasm and keep your sentences short and concise.
Sensory overload is a huge problem for individuals with autism. They get overwhelmed with the stimuli in their environment. You may find the situation you are in comfortable, while they get extremely overwhelmed. They do not enjoy certain common physical gestures like hugging or pats on the back. Try to respect and understand their desire for personal space.
How To Begin A Diagnosis Process
Adults who suspect they or a loved one might be autistic can do a self-assessment test for adults. A person can find these tests online. While they cannot give a diagnosis, the tests are a good starting point.
A person seeking a diagnosis can take the results of such a test to a primary care doctor who will try to determine whether ASD may be present by:
- enquiring about the symptoms, both current and during childhood
- observing and interacting with the person
- speaking to a loved one
- checking for other physical or mental health conditions that may be causing symptoms
If no underlying physical condition can explain the symptoms, the doctor may refer the person to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to make an ASD diagnosis.
If symptoms are not present in childhood but begin in adolescence or adulthood, this may indicate a cognitive or mental health condition other than ASD.
It may be difficult to find a specialist who can diagnose ASD in adults. Individuals who would like a diagnosis for themselves or a loved one may need to do research to find a provider with experience diagnosing autistic adults.
Another option is to speak to a developmental pediatrician or child psychiatrist who is willing to see adult clients.
You May Like: Pivotal Response Treatment Training
Social Communication / Interaction Behaviors May Include:
- Making little or inconsistent eye contact
- Tending not to look at or listen to people
- Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
- Failing to, or being slow to, respond to someone calling their name or to other verbal attempts to gain attention
- Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversation
- Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond
- Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said
- Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like
- Having trouble understanding another persons point of view or being unable to predict or understand other peoples actions
Is A Diagnosis Helpful
Unfortunately, there is no medication recommended for the core symptoms of ASC.
Some patients feel having a formal diagnosis is unhelpful as nothing can be done to help with their condition. This isnt completely true. A diagnosis can be very helpful to underpin an assessment of likely support needs, particularly as the extent of these needs may be partially hidden by normal I.Q. and language skills. Knowing that a person has a diagnosis of ASC can be important at work, in relationships, and in family settings. Many people, on receiving a diagnosis of ASC in late adolescence or adulthood, report that a diagnosis has helped them make sense of difficulties experienced in their lives to date, for example with forming social relationships, or managing jobs that require empathy.
A diagnostic label can also prevent people with ASC being misdiagnosed with a mental illness such as Schizophrenia or Personality Disorder, or becoming victim to the criminal justice system. For instance, a diagnosis might lead to a caution rather than a conviction. These sorts of scenarios can have severe impacts on peoples lives, including, for instance, inappropriate use of medication, or difficulties with employment.
Read Also: Autism Intensifies
Tests And Other Exams
ADHD can be mistaken for other mental health issues. A psychiatrist may give a patient several other psychological tests before making a diagnosis for ADHD. This can include having a behavior rating scale or a checklist of symptoms. A psychiatrist may also test a patient for a learning disability, which can closely mimic the symptoms of ADHD.
People can also have issues such as anxiety or depression at the same time as ADHD. Patients may have a medical history taken as well. Doing a physical exam can help a doctor eliminate other potential issues. This can include a seizure disorder or a thyroid problem. Both of these problems can present symptoms similar to ADHD.
How Can I Get Evaluated For A Diagnosis
Typically the first step is to find someone who can make the diagnosis in adults. Here’s a list of kinds of professionals who can diagnose individuals on the autistic spectrum.
- Psychiatrists or other medical doctors with expertise in ASD
- Psychologists and neuropsychologists
If you need help finding someone who can make a diagnosis, here are some ideas:
- Ask your primary care physician
- Ask someone you know and trust
- Contact a local autism related group
- Search the Internet
- Contact your student health services department if you’re a student
- Contact your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to help you with getting evaluated for a diagnosis, especially if you are having trouble finding or keeping employment
- Check if there is an autism clinic or autism center in your area. If so, call or check their web site to find out if it has services for adults.
If you have any family, friends, or acquaintances whom you trust, you might ask them if they can recommend a psychologist or other professional who can diagnose autism. Many people find it helpful to mention that they are especially interested in seeing a professional who has a good reputation for working with adults on the autism spectrum.
You can ask, “I am wondering if you know of any professionals who diagnose autism and have a good reputation for working with adults?”
Don’t Miss: Autism Type 2