Should I Worry About My Autistic Child Becoming An Adult
When you hear the word autism, most people think of children. But the truth is, those children eventually become adults, and adulthood doesnt replace autism.
Have you ever wondered what happens when your autistic child becomes an adult? Lets get down to the facts on how autism manifests itself through a lifetime and what an autistic adult can do for assistance.
Build A Support Network
Remember, youre not alone. Build up a support network. This could include a support or social skills group, an autistic friend, a friend or family member who learns about autism with you, an individual therapist who specializes in neurodiversity and can help you process your autism identity. Also, they can help you process any other challenges, such as social anxiety or trauma, and help you reduce the distress in your life. Ultimately, getting this support and learning these skills will improve your quality of life.
Articles On Autism Diagnosis
Autism spectrum disorder is usually diagnosed in young children. But what if you think you may be on the spectrum, and it never got diagnosed?
Parents of very young children are on the lookout for classic symptoms like lack of eye contact, repetitive movements, and sensory issues. And all kids are screened for these signs at their 18- and 24-month pediatrician well-child visits, so most cases of autism spectrum disorder are diagnosed by age 2.
That wasnât always the case. Not too long ago, some kids who would be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder today might have been labeled as âdifficultâ or âlearning disabled,â and may not have gotten the help they needed.
Now, those children are adults and they or their family members may wonder if they might have ASD.
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Disclosing Your Autism To Others
I frequently hear that receiving an autism diagnosis provided a sense of calmness. After all less confusion about who you are and why your acting that way leads to less stress. You arent left with lingering questions about why its so hard for you to fit in, have a conversation, or why certain sensory things make you really uncomfortable.
Now, you have to decide if and how to disclose your autism to others. If youre an adult, this decision is totally up to you. If youre under the age of eighteen, its up to your parents to decide. Often this decision is made to receive an IEP or individualized education plan. Regardless, the therapists at Open Doors Therapy, encourage you to disclose your autism when its appropriate. We call this a mini-disclosure. Over time, you will learn how to disclose your autism so others can assist you in being the best you can be.
My Story Being Diagnosed With Autism As An Adult
My whole life I thought there was something wrong with me. My diagnosis changed those thoughts. When I learned about my diagnosis I knew nothing was wrong with meI knew that I had something very special about me and my life was about to change.
It was April 3, 2013, two weeks after my 34th birthday, when I heard the words: youre on the spectrum. As soon as I heard those four words, my body collapsed into my mom’s arms. My mom and my stepdad were both in the room with me and you could feel the relief that went out the window.
I remember walking out of work two days after my official diagnosis after a long day and stopping in my steps in the middle of the parking lot thinking to myself I feel normal. Why, after all these years, did I finally feel normal?
Im still trying to figure out what this all means. All I know for sure is that I finally feel whole and as strange as this might sound, my life makes sense now. I dont feel out of place and awkward. I guess the greatest thing that came out of this is how Ive been feeling my whole life has finally been validated.
I think I had two things working against me growing up. The first was that autism wasnt as known as it is today. Second, it was and still is in a small way considered to be a boys thing.
While boys on the spectrum tend to become rowdy, girls on the spectrum tend to introvert and are labeled shy and quiet. Thats all I heard growing upthat I was shy and quiet. It annoyed the heck out of me.
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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.
With Autism Later In Life
Though the classic form of autism is something that is often quite obvious in a child, there are high functioning autism types like Aspergerâs that can be thought to be something else entirely.
This form is just now being understood, and many who have had it their whole lives are just now learning that this is the case. It seems to make the answer to the questions pertaining to can adults be diagnosed with autism rather simple. Adults can most certainly be diagnosed with autism.
It can be a tough journey though, as many doctors donât like the Aspergerâs condition, and think it is highly blown out of proportion. Others just donât have the knowledge to accurately diagnose children and adults with higher functioning forms of autism, so, it was something that went unnoticed for a very long time.
Most parents and doctors assumed the child was different or âshyâ but that was all the further thought that was put into the situation. These children are now adults and starting to question those assumptions.
Some people are even wrongly told that they have conditions like Obsessive Compulsive disorder. Because of frustration and anxiety regarding socialization, many have become often loners. There are other clues that an adult might have autism.
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How Do I Get Tested For Autism As An Adult
Adults should seek an evaluation from a trained mental health professional. For many reasons, its difficult for adults to be diagnosed with autism. Diagnosis, treatment, and expertise currently center around children, so adults may want to look for a pediatrician or child psychiatrist who specializes in autism. If that clinician doesnt feel comfortable providing an evaluation, they may have a referral for someone who works with adults. Adults may also consider seeking recommendations from a local support group or advocacy organization.
Some adults who suspect they have autism may decide that they dont ultimately need a diagnosis, because they function well in work and in life. But for those who struggle professionally, socially, or romantically, a diagnosis can provide a valuable foundation from which to understand those challenges and find support.
Common Signs Of Autism
Some of the more common signs that may indicate a person has autism include:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Delayed speech and communication skills
- Reliance on rules and routines
- Being upset by relatively minor changes
- Unexpected reactions to sounds, tastes, sights, touch and smells
- Difficulty understanding other peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s emotions
- Focusing on or becoming obsessed by a narrow range of interests or objects
- Engaging in repetitive behavior such as flapping hands or rocking
- Children not responding to their name by 12 months
- Children not pointing at distant objects by 14 months
Worried you or someone you know might have some of the signs of autism? The Ada app can help you check symptoms. or find out more about how it works.
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Diagnosed As An Adult
For some adults who are diagnosed later in life, it is likely they have already found ways to cope and be resilient in the face of discrimination and stereotyping.
But this is not always the case. Some adults with autism still face daily and lifelong battles to cope in their day-to-day lives. They may also find things like getting a job, meeting new people and having personal relationships really difficult.
The NHS website highlights that it might be a positive step to be diagnosed with autism as an adult presumably because you may receive support, care and benefits. To what extent a person will actually receive this additional help is another issue. And given the increasing rates with which children and young people are being diagnosed with autism, it is likely that adults who are diagnosed later on, are going to struggle to access the support they really need.
What To Do Next After Receiving An Adult Autism Diagnosis
I have written about what to do after receiving an adult diagnosis so please consult this article for guidance. There is also the decision on who should be told about the diagnosis. Ive written an in-depth blog about that.
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Turning 22 With Autism
The relative lack of information for and about adults on the spectrum means that a lot of parents suddenly find themselves scrambling when their childnow a young adultreaches the magical age of 22.
That’s because, on their 22nd birthday, people with autism suddenly lose their entitlement to services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and enter the much chancier world of adult services.
While the IDEA actually requires schools to offer “free and appropriate education” to all children, there is no such requirement for adults. As a result, funding and programming for adults may or may not be available at any given time.
Can A Person Develop Autism After Early Childhood
Steven Gans, MD, is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
There is no official diagnosis called late-onset autism. In fact, the DSM-5, which lists and describes all developmental and mental disorders states that the onset of symptoms is in the early developmental period.
Still, there are plenty of articles out there about children who appear to regress after developing normally throughout their earliest years. And there are plenty of people who seem to develop autistic symptoms as teens or even adults.
So does regressive or late-onset autism actually exist? What do we know about it so far?
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I Was Diagnosed With High
January 26, 2021 by Dr. Tasha Oswald
Many individuals with high-functioning autism are diagnosed later in life. Their autism often goes unnoticed due to average or higher than average intellect. Furthermore, in order to fit in many individuals with autism work very hard to mask or hide their autistic traits. And, when they do exhibit them, they are dismissed as being quirks or symptoms of other mental health or behavioral concerns.
Unfortunately, being misdiagnosed or diagnosed later in life, causes many individuals with autism to feel extremely misunderstood. In fact, many of my clients say they felt a profound sense of relief they feel when they are finally given an ASD diagnosis. Its like being given a missing piece to a puzzle youve been working hard to complete.
Although you feel relief, you may be wondering what now? I have a diagnosis, but how exactly does that change my life? Does it change who I am? Today, I want to explore some ways you can move forward after receiving an autism spectrum diagnosis to maximize happiness and success in your life.
Should I Camouflage My Autism In Social Settings
Research has shown that authenticity is an integral part of mental health and well-being. Yet many people with autism are taught, or teach themselves, to modify their behavior to conform to social norms and expectations.
Identifying and unraveling deeply ingrained habits is difficultit requires courage and assertiveness. But doing soand perhaps finding a supportive neurodiverse communitycan eliminate shame and stress and help to cultivate dignity, connection, and self-acceptance.
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Funding For Assessment And Diagnosis Of Autism
You can have your child assessed for autism through the public or the private health system.
Public assessment services are funded through your state or territory government and are often run through hospitals or health services. These are offered at no cost to families, but many have long waiting lists.
The other option is to be assessed privately. A paediatrician can refer you to another professional to confirm the diagnosis. A private assessment can be expensive, and there might also be a waiting list.
You can claim a rebate from Medicare to help with some of the costs of the assessment sessions, but theres still an out-of-pocket expense, and youll need to cover the full cost of any more assessment sessions. You might also be able to claim some of the fees through your private health fund, if you have one.
When youre deciding whether to go through the public or private system for assessment, it can help to ask:
- Is there a waiting list? How long will it take before we get our first appointment?
- How long will it take until the assessment is finished and we get the results?
- How many sessions will you need with me and my child?
- Can I claim anything back from Medicare?
- Can you give me an estimate of my out-of-pocket expenses?
- Does it cost extra for the report about my childs results?
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Signs Of Autism In Girls
The ratio of boys to girls diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is 4:1. However, there is some evidence that autism is going undiagnosed in girls, particularly those who are at the higher functioning end of the spectrum.
There is discussion around whether girls and women with autism may display different symptoms to boys and men, and that the current diagnostic criteria may be biased towards boys and stereotypical male behavior. Girls and women may also be better able to mask difficulties with social interactions than boys, and this may delay a diagnosis. New diagnostic criteria may be needed to assess ASD in girls and women. Past theories, including controversies such as the extreme male brain, may have led to under-referral and under-diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in girls and women.
Signs that a girl may have autism include:
- Difficulties with social interactions however, differences from typical autism symptoms may include:
- Better grasp of emotions and ability to make friends than boys
- May mask lack of intuitive understanding of social situations by repeating role-plays seen in real life or film/television
- May be able to make friends but find difficulty keeping them
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Great Strengths And Abilities
In general, people with autism are honest and dependable most are focused on their work and are rarely distracted by social activities or outside interests.
Quite a few have exceptional talents in areas such as computer coding, mathematics, music, drafting, organizing, and visual arts. While it can be tough for autistic adults to set up and manage their own space and schedules, many are outstanding employees.
Some corporations have started to recognize the value of actively recruiting and hiring autistic individuals a few include:
- Freddie Mac
Tip : Manage Anxiety And Depression
Some people find that anxiety and depression go hand in hand with symptoms of ASD. For example, difficulty relating to others can lead to feelings of anxiety. Increased anxiety can, in turn, make it even harder to communicate. You might even feel so flustered that you cant form sentences.
Feelings of isolation can also trigger depression. But there are steps you can take to manage your mood and improve how you feel.
Stay active. Exercise is good for the mind and eases stress. Some studies show that vigorous exercise can be especially useful for helping adults with ASD manage aggression. Find an aerobic exercise that fits neatly into your routine and wont potentially throw your schedule into chaos. It may be something as simple as going for daily walks or runs. Make sure its something you enjoy, so youre more likely to stick to it.
Rely on close friends. Socializing can also be good for your mood, as long as the people youre with dont stress you out. Find people who share your interests. Thanks to the Internet, its easy to find people in your local area who share your interests. If possible, look for conventions or other gatherings where people who share your hobby come together and interact in person.
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Autism Symptoms In Adults At Work
Symptoms of ASD vary greatly from person to person based on the severity of the condition. These or similar manifestations of ASD may be apparent at work:
- When youre having a conversation with your boss, you prefer to look at the wall, her shoes, or anywhere but directly into her eyes.
- Your co-workers say that you speak like a robot.
- Each item on your desk has a special place, and you dont like when the cleaning company rearranges it to dust.
- You are really good at math, or software coding, but struggle to succeed in other areas.
- You talk to your co-workers the same way you talk with your family and friends.
- During meetings, you find yourself making involuntary noises, like clearing your throat over and over.
- When talking with your boss, you have difficulty telling if he is happy with your performance or mad at you.
In addition, individuals with ASD may exhibit extraordinary talents in visual skills, music, math, and art. And roughly 40 percent of individuals with ASD have average or above-average intelligence.
If you experience these or similar symptoms of ASD, consult a doctor or mental-health professional for a formal autism evaluation and learn more about treatment options for autism symptoms in adults.