Sunday, June 23, 2024

I Think I Might Be Autistic

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Restrictive And Repetitive Behaviors

I think I might be autistic: What now?
  • You have trouble regulating your emotions and your responses to them.
  • Changes in routines and expectations cause strong feelings that may include 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.

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.

A New Understanding Of Asd

After reading and researching ASD and feeling certain this information describes yourself, you may experience an identity shift towards one that is autistic. Reflecting back on moments in your life, you may view things that happened in a different context, through the lens of autism. Retelling the story of your life may now have the ASD perspective. Remembering your stories, reflecting on them, and receiving feedback will change your narrative. This process of self-discovery helps to make sense of whats happened in your life how having ASD has shaped the way you think, react and feel. Maybe some of the confusion is gone, you understand yourself better, and in time you can share this discovery with people you trust.

This new identity may also cause feelings of loss, resentment or anger. Its OK to feel this way as this is a life changing event and it can feel overwhelming. Try to think about the positive things such as your strengths. People continue to grow, change and adapt throughout their lifespan. You can learn new skills and find new ways to do things that may make life easier and more comfortable.

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Are There Any Other Self

There are lots of different tests available on the Internet and lots of information about Autism. Have a look at our helpful links page for further websites you might want to visit.

There is a more in depth self-assessment with 50 questions for adults which can help to give a better indication of Autism. You can try this for yourself or have several people score the questionnaire individually and compare the results for the same person.

How One Therapist Started Me On My Autism Journey

Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment

As my legs buckled under me, I lunged for a seat, leaving my elderly mum to deal with the doctors receptionist. By the time I made it back to the sanctuary of my own home, my partner found me sobbing and rocking in my bed.

I explained about the change in plans that had taken course during the day: the unnecessary trip to yet another supermarket because mum needed a particular brand of tea the unexpected blood tests which added half an hour on to the doctors appointment the incessant chatter with half a dozen people which meant there was no way I was going to fit a gym workout in. This was day five of my mums relocation 100 miles south to be nearer to me and I couldnt cope with the chaos.

Cocooned in the peace of my therapists chair a couple of days later, I described the mess, the disorder, the lack of structure, and the extreme pandemonium that had accompanied my mums move and that had pushed my anxiety levelswhich were fairly bad even on a good daythrough the roof. I described how her house, which Id decorated in carefully chosen colour coordinated hues, was trashed alreadystrewn with plastic bags, dog food, old red cushions. I explained that my carefully constructed routine of school-run, gym, workwhich helped to keep my anxiety levels at baywas out the window.

After listening patiently, the counsellor said, “Have you ever considered that you might be on the autistic spectrum?”

Heres what I discovered:

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Do I Need A Diagnosis

For some people having a formal diagnosis can help simply by giving the person some answers. This will help them to understand why they may have been struggling with particular issues.

It may also be helpful in school/college/university life and in the work place in evidencing why someone may need additional support or reasonable adjustments to be made to help them.

For other people, they may have long suspected that they are Autistic but dont wish to have a formal diagnosis. They may consider their Autism to be a private matter and may feel that they dont want to be given a label.

It is up to each individual to decide for themselves what is best for them.

At Derriford Autism Service, we dont insist upon a formal diagnosis as long as the person wishes to be known to the service. This information will not be shared outside of the Hospital, and will only be used to alert staff of the need to consider offering you Reasonable Adjustments.

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.

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Get Help From Medical Professionals After Self

For the most part, autism diagnostic tools focus on childrens symptoms and parents reports. There are several questionnaires available to diagnose autism in adults, but there is not a set of surveys or questions for adults, unlike there is for children.

If you suspect you might have undiagnosed autism as an adult, your doctor or therapist may ask you about your childhood experiences, any symptoms you remember and can report, and how you experience the world now. Observe and report repetitive behaviors as well as rigidity with schedules, expectations, or your personal life. Tell your doctor if you tend to take phrases literally. All of these signs can indicate that you may be on the autism spectrum.

To thoroughly answer these questions, you can start with an online quiz, reading a list of symptoms, or talking to people with autism about their experiences. Oftentimes, this information can shed light on the symptoms you struggle with and give you a baseline understanding before you talk to a professional.

Self-assessing and self-referring are good ways for many people who struggle with mental, behavioral, and even some developmental disorders like autism to get started on a better path. Once you understand your symptoms in a different context, you can start asking for help.

If you experience one or more of these five mental themes, you can consider looking into an autism diagnosis, either starting online or going directly to a medical professional. These themes are:

What Are Some Common Indicators Of Autism

I think I might be autistic. What do I do next? #autismacceptancemonth #actuallyautistic #redinstead

Every Autistic person is different, just like every individual is different. There isnt one set of behaviours that define Autism. Similarly, just because someone has one or two traits that are comparable to Autism, this doesnt mean that they are autistic.

Some common indicators of autism might include:

  • Social Communication difficulties with reading others. For example, understanding facial expressions, understanding jokes or sentences with underlying meanings such as sarcasm.
  • Social Interaction – may not be aware of social expectations such as being in someone elses personal space, may appear to be rude or insensitive, may find it hard to form and maintain friendships.
  • Routines and repetitive behaviours often autistic people prefer a routine and can be distressed if this is altered without warning.
  • Sensory may experience over or under sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain. Autistic people may find certain background sounds unbearably loud or distracting , they may dress inappropriately for cold weather . Some sensory experiences can cause anxiety or even physical pain to the individual..

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Autism Signs And Characteristics: Checklist For Adults

If you think you may be on the autism spectrum or you know, love, or work with an adult who you feel might have autism, the following information will help you to better understand the common signs and characteristics relating to adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder .

Many adults may demonstrate the signs or characteristics of autism, but may not have been assessed or diagnosed for a number of reasons, these could include:

  • The signs or characteristics are not obvious to those around them.
  • People around them are not aware of the signs or characteristics of autism.
  • The signs and characteristics do not have a significant impact on the individual, or limit their everyday functioning.
  • The person has learnt strategies to support their challenges including masking or camouflaging signs.
  • The financial and emotional cost of an assessment.
  • Another diagnosis that could account for some of the signs and characteristics demonstrated
  • The person self-identifies as autistic, but does not see the benefits of having a formal assessment
  • The person does not want a formal diagnosis.

Many adults who demonstrate the behaviours of autism, and are not formally diagnosed, learn to cope with life perfectly well. They might develop meaningful relationships, have satisfying careers, or live an excellent quality of life that satisfies them.

Other Issues Associated With Autism

Older autistic children and teenagers often have other issues as well. These might include:

  • difficulty with sleep for example, they might have difficulty falling asleep, or might regularly wake up or have broken sleep patterns
  • anxiety or feeling overwhelmed for example, they might feel anxious about going to new places, or being in social situations
  • depression older autistic children and teenagers who are aware of their differences are also often aware of how others see them and can feel like outsiders. These feelings of low mood might be intensified by changing hormone levels during puberty
  • aggressive behaviour they often have sensory sensitivities that can lead to sudden aggressive behaviour. They might have difficulty understanding whats going on around them, which can lead to frustration building up
  • eating disorders for example, they might have difficulty moving to secondary school and might develop an eating disorder to cope with feelings of anxiety
  • difficulty with organisational skills they might find the increase in complexity at secondary school hard to manage
  • school refusal they might feel overwhelmed or confused at school. They might also be vulnerable to bullying at school
  • gender dysphoria autistic children and teenagers can be more likely than other children and teenagers to identify as a gender thats different from the sex they were assigned at birth. If they feel distressed about this its called gender dysphoria.

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You Have A Tendency To Monologue

People with autism have a tough time interacting with others. It goes to follow that having a conversation is difficult for them at times, usually because they don’t know when to speak, when to ask questions, and do other things that people often take for granted.

“You can lecture at length on topics of interest to you, but you freeze up when confronted with making ‘small talk’ or responding to another persons questions,” says Dr. Marsh.

Behaviour Signs Of Autism In Older Children And Teenagers

I Think I Might Be Autistic: A Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder ...

Repetitive behaviour and interests Older autistic children and teenagers might:

  • have unusual interests or obsessions for example, they might collect sticks or memorise football statistics but not really be interested in the game
  • have compulsive behaviour for example, they might line things up or need to close all the doors in the house
  • have an unusual attachment to objects for example, they might carry toys around, or collect unusual items like chip packets or shoelaces
  • be easily upset by change and like to follow routines for example, they might like to sit in the same seat for every meal or have a special order for getting ready in the morning
  • repeat body movements or have unusual body movements, like hand-flapping or rocking
  • make repetitive noises for example, grunts, throat-clearing or squealing.

Sensory sensitivitiesOlder autistic children and teenagers might:

  • be sensitive to sensory experiences for example, they might be easily upset by certain sounds or uncomfortable clothes, or eat only foods with a certain texture
  • seek sensory stimulation for example, they might like deep pressure, seek vibrating objects like washing machines, or flutter fingers to the sides of their eyes to watch the light flicker
  • be less responsive to pain than other children.

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What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Getting A Diagnosis

  • Getting a professional diagnosis may help you to receive any appropriate funding, support and help you might need.
  • Your family, friends and work colleagues may have a better understanding of you and your needs and it may allow them to support you more effectively.
  • You may have a greater sense of self-identify if you understand yourself and the spectrum better.
  • You may have a better understanding of your experiences as a child or adolescent.
  • You may have increased confidence knowing you are part of a larger group of adults that may be like-minded.

Some adults find that by having a better understanding of the challenges associated with autism, they can use their strengths and develop strategies to support these.

Fast fact: Did you know that people on the spectrum commonly show character strengths such as loyalty, kindness, honesty and a lack of judgement?

You Don’t Recognize Sarcasm

Much like the inability to understand a colloquialism, a person on the spectrum may not understand jokes or sarcasm. They require a level of out-of-the-box thinking that is hard for a person on the spectrum to process in real time.

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Problems With Autism Diagnoses

Autism is a developmental disorder. Since the publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition , autism is clinically referred to as autism spectrum disorder, a name that highlights the range in type and severity of behavioral symptoms.

Since autism is diagnosed based on behaviors, rather than genetics or physiological symptoms, it can be difficult to get right. The clinical definition of autism has been adjusted over the past several decades, as medical research improves understanding around this condition. As a result, more people are receiving accurate diagnoses now, but they may have been misdiagnosed as children or not diagnosed at all.

An estimated 2.2% of adults in the United States are on the autism spectrum, which represents about 5.4 million people. For the most part, people who are on the autism spectrum are diagnosed as children, starting around 2 years old.

Many adults with milder autism symptoms may never have been diagnosed. They may have developed coping mechanisms over the years to manage communication and social interactions. They may not receive a diagnosis until they are adults. Often, their diagnosis comes from personal research into symptoms.

Benefits Of A Diagnosis

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Some people see a formal diagnosis as an unhelpful label, but for many, getting a timely and thorough assessment and diagnosis may be helpful because:

  • It may help you to understand why you may experience certain difficulties and what you can do about them.
  • It may correct a previous misdiagnosis and mean that any mental health problems can be better addressed.
  • It may help you to get access to appropriate services and benefits.
  • You will be entitled to have reasonable adjustments made by your employer, college or university.
  • It may help women, and those with a demand avoidant profile, who may not before have been recognised as autistic by others.
  • You don’t need to be diagnosed to join our online community or subscribe to the Spectrum or Your Autism magazine, but you might need a diagnosis to join some social groups.
  • Although you dont need to be diagnosed to have self-belief, some autistic people welcome the diagnosis as a way of making sense of their life experiences and being able to identify with other autistic people.

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