How Autism Affects Adults
Autism has actually wide varieties and there are different types of it. Normally, autism is diagnosed at very young ages, although some symptoms can also be observed in adults. In general, brain functions are affected in autism, which in turn brings communication problems and social interaction difficulties. Autism symptoms generally emerge in the first three years of life. Early diagnosis is very important for effective treatment. Symptoms of autism in adults is similar to what is seen in childhood. However, since adults are somehow adapted in life, it can be a confusing process to understand whether behavior is autism-induced.
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.
Ners Of Autistic People
Some autistic people will successfully maintain relationships. However, like most relationships, there are challenges.
An adults diagnosis of autism often follows their childs diagnosis of autism or that of another relative. This double whammy can be extremely distressing to the partner who has to cope simultaneously with both diagnoses. Counselling, or joining a support group where they can talk with other people who face the same challenges, can be helpful.
An autistic partner, like any partner, will have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to relationships. A non-autistic partner may find that there are communication breakdowns, such as misunderstandings or finding that your partner is not able to predict your feelings. An autistic partner may need routine, order and time to pursue their hobbies.
Relationship counselling with a counsellor or psychologist experienced at working with autistic people can assist couples to develop strategies and to communicate more effectively with each other.
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Autism Symptoms In Adults At Home
Other peoples feelings baffle you. You have a collection of figurines on your desk that must be in the same order at all times. These, and other common manifestations of ASD, may be apparent in adults at home:
- Your family members lovingly refer to you as the eccentric professor of the family, even though you dont work in academia.
- Youve always wanted a best friend, but never found one.
- You often invent your own words and expressions to describe things.
- Even when youre in a quiet place, like the library, you find yourself making involuntary noises like clearing your throat over and over.
- You follow the same schedule every day of the week, and dont like unexpected events.
- Expressions like, Curiosity killed the cat or Dont count your chickens before they hatch are confusing to you.
- You are always bumping into things and tripping over your own feet.
- In your leisure time, you prefer to play individual games and sports, like golf, where everyone works for themselves instead of working toward a common goal on a team.
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Put Yourself In Their Shoes For A Moment
Imagine running 10 miles during the day. Then, you come home, and your partner wont even acknowledge that you ran 10 miles. Now, how do you feel about that? It probably would hurt your feelings. Remember this analogy the next time you get upset with your partner when they say no to doing something or go along with it but become overwhelmed. They metaphorically run a marathon every day but arent often acknowledged for their efforts. Furthermore, they are asked to change or try harder and that can cause them to feel so sad. So, its important to think about what really matters to you, and be reasonable in your requests of your autistic partner. Recognize how hard they are trying every day to make you happy. It will give you the compassion and understanding to be reasonable with them while respecting your own needs too.
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Learning About Each Other Never Stops Especially When Youre Dating On The Autism Spectrum
Lastly, learn about your autistic partners unique needs and honor them. Common situations that may be challenging for your autistic partner include:
- Social settings: Many people with autism have a need for alone time and time to engage in their special interests. Crowds, family gatherings, or going out with a group of friends can feel overwhelming.
- Group conversations: Many people with autism feel more at ease in 1-on-1 interactions. In group settings, it can be draining and tedious for an autistic person to make conversation and stay engaged. Robbing the autistic person of the joy of the interaction and getting to know someone.
- Sensory sensitivities: Becoming overstimulated is common. Sometimes they dont even know it at a conscious level, but it dramatically impacts the way they feel and behave in certain situations. Sounds, textures, smells, vibrations can overwhelm their nervous system, especially if their senses had been assaulted earlier in the day. This can wear them down and drain them.
Emotional And Behavioral Difficulties
- You have trouble regulating your emotions and your responses to them.
- Changes in routines and expectations cause outbursts or meltdowns.
- When something unexpected happens, you respond with an emotional meltdown.
- You get upset when your things are moved or rearranged.
- You have rigid routines, schedules, and daily patterns that must be maintained no matter what.
- You have repetitive behaviors and rituals.
- You make noises in places where quiet is expected.
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What Are The Causes Of Autism
The exact cause of autism is still under research, although the following factors predispose an individual to the development of autism
- Gender: Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls.
- Children born to older parents are at high risk of autism spectrum disorder .
- ASD is often seen if a parent or sibling suffers from autistic disorders.
- Genes: People suffering from genetic diseases such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis have a higher risk of ASD.
- Medication: Certain drugs such as valproic acid and thalidomide taken by the mother during pregnancy may cause the development of autistic characteristics in the child.
It must be noted that autism is not contagious. It does not spread by playing with or having contact with an affected child. Additionally, there is no relationship between vaccinations and autism development.
- Not responding to name by 12 months
- Not pointing to distant object by 14 months
Symptoms of autism in a child around five years
Symptoms of autism in an adult
- Difficulty in interacting with other people.
- Unable to pick up on body language and emotional subtext in conversations.
- Avoid eye contact while speaking.
- Extreme anxiety in various social situations.
- They may make friends but are unable to maintain friendships or relations.
- Extreme distress at even a minor change in routine.
- Stubborn adherence to rules.
I Was Just Diagnosed With Autism What Do I Do
Allow yourself time to process this change. A late diagnosis of autism can change your self-conceptoften for the betterbut recognize that it may take time to fully understand or embrace.
Your next steps may be to learn more about autism, read about other peoples experiences, or seek out adults with autism for community. If your diagnosis was prompted by difficulties at school or work, you should explore what accommodations are available to help you function more effectively.
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Early Identification Is Key
Importantly, no single symptom is necessary or sufficient for a diagnosis. However, more symptoms do increase the potential for a diagnosis.
As well, many children display symptoms consistent with ASD yet grow out of them naturally and do not receive a diagnosis. Experienced clinicians take typical child development into account when determining if a diagnosis is warranted.
If you are concerned that your child may have ASD, an important first step is to speak with your doctor or pediatrician. Autism Canada is an excellent resource that provides information on assessment and intervention opportunities.
Assessment often involves teams of professionals working together to identify a childs fit with the symptoms of ASD and typically includes observation of the child in different settings, interviews with parents and completion of assessment tasks to evaluate a childs development.
What Disorders Are Related To Asd
Certain known genetic disorders are associated with an increased risk for autism, including Fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis each of which results from a mutation in a single, but different, gene. Recently, researchers have discovered other genetic mutations in children diagnosed with autism, including some that have not yet been designated as named syndromes. While each of these disorders is rare, in aggregate, they may account for 20 percent or more of all autism cases.
People with ASD also have a higher than average risk of having epilepsy. Children whose language skills regress early in life before age 3 appear to have a risk of developing epilepsy or seizure-like brain activity. About 20 to 30 percent of children with ASD develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood. Additionally, people with both ASD and intellectual disability have the greatest risk of developing seizure disorder.
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Other Signs Of Autism
You may also have other signs, like:
- not understanding social “rules”, such as not talking over people
- avoiding eye contact
- getting too close to other people, or getting very upset if someone touches or gets too close to you
- noticing small details, patterns, smells or sounds that others do not
- having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities
- liking to plan things carefully before doing them
Many People With Autism Do Hold Jobs And Enter The Workforce
Wherever you fall on the autism spectrum, entering the workforce can pose many difficulties, including struggles with employers and the ability to handle tasks that fall beyond previously comfortable routines, and more.
It can be a real challenge for people with autism who need to adjust to a work environment. Now, youre dealing with coworkers and have to get along with employers who just might not even understand what it means to have autism, Frazier says. A boss might not understand that at all, or be able to know how to respond in the right way.
Unfortunately such challenges can lead to unemployment and underemployment for people with autism even though these individuals are able to work. And research shows it clearly has. In February 2018, the unemployment rate for people who have disabilities was 8.6 percent compared with 4.2 for people with no disabilities.
It can be incredibly stressful for these people with autism who might be fine with the physical demands of a job stocking shelves in a grocery store, for example, but who may find it nearly impossible to interact with a customer who asks a question about where something is located, for instance, Veenstra-Vanderweele adds. The stress and fear alone of being in this kind of environment could discourage a person from seeking a job in the first place.
Some resources that help individuals with autism find and succeed in jobs that are appropriate for them include:
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What Should You Know
Autism spectrum disorder is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. CDC estimates that an average of 1 in 54 children in the U.S. has ASD or autism. Lets learn more
Follow the 8 steps below for your Web Quest.
Step 1: See what you think about kids with autism. Take the Fact Checkup!
Step 2: Think about some questions to ask. Lets see
Step 3: Check out some quick facts.
Step 4: Check out some great websites to help you learn more.
Step 5: Find out about people who have been diagnosed with autism to help with your Quest.
Step 6: Learn about movies and books that can give you information.
Step 7: Check out your school and neighborhood.
Step 8: Now see if your attitudes have changed. Take the Fact Checkup again.
Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder In Adults
Common symptoms of autism in adults include:
- Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
- Trouble interpreting facial expressions, body language, or social cues
- Difficulty regulating emotion
- Trouble keeping up a conversation
- Inflection that does not reflect feelings
- Difficulty maintaining the natural give-and-take of a conversation prone to monologues on a favorite subject
- Tendency to engage in repetitive or routine behaviors
- Only participates in a restricted range of activities
- Strict consistency to daily routines outbursts when changes occur
- Exhibiting strong, special interests
Autism spectrum disorder is typically a life-long condition, though early diagnosis and treatment can make a tremendous difference.
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How Is Asd Diagnosed
ASD symptoms can vary greatly from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder. Symptoms may even go unrecognized for young children who have mild ASD or less debilitating handicaps.
Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by clinicians based on symptoms, signs, and testing according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders. Children should be screened for developmental delays during periodic checkups and specifically for autism at 18- and 24-month well-child visits.
Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- excessive lining up of toys or objects
- no smiling or social responsiveness
Later indicators include:
- impaired ability to make friends with peers
- impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
- absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
- repetitive or unusual use of language
- abnormally intense or focused interest
- preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
- inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
Difficulty Responding To Kindness
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg because autistic children may also have a tough time managing their responses to adult or peer “kindness.” Perhaps these examples sound familiar:
- Grandma comes to visit. She sees her autistic grandchild, opens her arms, and asks for a big hug. The grandchild runs in the opposite direction at top speed. Grandma follows him and gives him that hug, only to be rewarded with a kick in the shins.
- Grandpa gives his autistic grandchild a gift, and his grandchild says, at an age when he or she should know better, “I don’t like this! I wanted a ___!”
- A kind peer from school agrees to a play date and finds himself ignored for several hours while the autistic host plays alone. Even worse, the guest may spend two hours being told, “Don’t touch that!”
All of these behaviors can be embarrassing, and all can lead to hurt or even angry feelings. Yet all are typical of autism, and, in most cases, result from sensory, communication, or behavioral challenges that are part of autism.
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What Are Some Early Signs Of Autism In Toddlers
When a baby becomes a toddler, various developmental differences, signs and symptoms may become more apparent with the growing age of the child.
During their first year, toddlers with autism spectrum disorder may not:
- like seeing new faces,
- may not be able to walk, or w__alk only on their toes__
- may find certain sounds, tastes and smells upsetting,
- may fall into repetitive movements, like flapping their hands.
These signs may be more noticeable compared to the signs presented early on. However, the majority of children with autism are not diagnosed before the age of two due to missed signs by caregivers, or lack of access to specialists.
Options Include Day Programs
Meanwhile, some parents of young children are already researching options. Chew has put Charlie on a waiting list for state housing but is thinking the ideal immediate plan will involve a part-time job with a good day program.
She writes that her new hobby/obsession is finding something comparable to the county school for autistic children, which he loves and where he learns daily living and vocational skills. But this appears to be difficult if not impossible, she says. I know the day that yellow bus does not pull up in front of our house will be a tough one.
Chew is well aware that funding shortages make her idea of extending special-needs services to 25 a pipe dream. But she also knows that the dearth of options leads many parents to keep these young people at home, often idle and lacking the structure, routine and calm those with ASD need to do their best.
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Families Struggle To Find Or Invent Good Supported Living Options
When Susan Senators son Max was racing toward the high school finish line, he joined the rest of his classmates for the usual rites of passage. He took the ACT and applied to good schools, landing at New York Universitys prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.
But things couldnt have been more different for Maxs brother, Nat. Senator, a blogger, memoir writer and novelist, had to take into account the fact that her profoundly autistic older son, while very competent when it comes to self-help skills like showering and dressing, is also limited verbally, cannot handle money and still doesnt look both ways when crossing the street.
In other words, she knew he needed a 24-hour caregiver to be safe. But because the infrastructure and services arent in place to create the type of living arrangement she wanted for Nat after he came of age, she joined the growing ranks of parents who are struggling to make short- and long-term provisions, often taking matters into their own hands.