How Does Autism Affect Communication
About 40% of kids with autism spectrum disorders donât talk at all, and between 25% and 30% develop some language skills during infancy but then lose them later. Some children with ASD start talking later in life.
Most have some problems with communication, including:
- Delayed speech and language skills
- Flat, robotic speaking voice, or singsong voice
- Problems with pronouns
- Not using or rarely using common gestures , and not responding to them
- Inability to stay on topic when talking or answering questions
- Not recognizing sarcasm or joking
- Trouble expressing needs and emotions
- Not getting signals from body language, tone of voice, and expressions
Social Communication / Interaction Behaviors May Include:
- Making little or inconsistent eye contact
- Appearing not to look at or listen to people who are talking
- Infrequently sharing interest, emotion, or enjoyment of objects or activities
- Not responding or being slow to respond to ones name or to other verbal bids for 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
- Displaying 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
- Difficulties adjusting behaviors to social situations
- Difficulties sharing in imaginative play or in making friends
He Was Obsessed With Airplanes
If your partner is on the Autism Spectrum, there is a good chance that he has a few interests that he is extremely passionate about almost to the point of clinical obsession. My client recollects stories of her boyfriend staying up all night when he received a new book on his special interest or if he discovered something online about it that he hadnt previously known. Sometimes, she felt that the interests were more important than their relationship as her partner would spend his free time researching the interest, instead of spending time with her.
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Behavioral Psychological And Educational Interventions
People with ASD may be referred to a health care provider who specializes in providing behavioral, psychological, educational, or skill-building interventions. These programs are typically highly structured and intensive, and they may involve caregivers, siblings, and other family members. These programs may help people with ASD:
- Learn social, communication, and language skills
- Reduce behaviors that interfere with daily functioning
- Increase or build upon strengths
- Learn life skills necessary for living independently
Potential Benefits Of Living With An Autism Diagnosis
Receiving an ASD diagnosis as an adult could mean a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to the world. And it can help you learn how to better work with your strengths and strengthen areas of your life that are impacted.
Getting diagnosed can help you gain a different perspective on your childhood. It can also help those around you to understand and empathize more with your unique characteristics.
A better understanding of your own situation can help you find new and inventive ways to work with your strengths and qualities. You can also work with your clinician and your loved ones to seek supports that may be right for you.
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How Many American Adults Live With Autism
In 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 5.5 million American adults are living with autism spectrum disorder .
Celebrities and prominent public figures who have opened up about being diagnosed with ASD include:
Actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah
New York state assembly representative Yuh-Line Niou
Scottish singer and Britain’s Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle
Men are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than women, according to Autism Speaks.
However, as the authors of a 2017 meta-analysis conclude, the true male-to-female ratio is not four-to-one, rather, it is closer to three-to-one.
The review’s authors call attention to gender bias in diagnosis from pediatricians and mental health professionals.
“There appears to be a diagnostic gender bias,” they write, “meaning that girls who meet criteria for ASD are at disproportionate risk of not receiving a clinical diagnosis.”
When Do Symptoms Of Autism Appear
Autism symptoms in children may be recognized as early as 18 months. More recently, adults are being diagnosed with autism, and this is likely due to increased awareness and screening during medical appointments.
If you suspect that your son or daughter may have autism, its time to talk to your doctor. Interventions can make a big difference for both your childs health and development.
Learn about autism treatments for children and adults.
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Signs And Characteristics Checklist
If youre reading this page, you may be thinking that you, your partner, or someone you know or love is showing some of the signs or characteristics of autism.
These signs cover a range of human behaviour from social communication and social interaction, to restricted, repetitive and sensory processing.
Note that the information below is just a list of some of the common signs and characteristics of autism.
It is unlikely that an adult will display all of these characteristics, and its important to remember, only a qualified professional can carry out an assessment for autism.
Some of the characteristics that adults with an autism diagnosis commonly report, include:
Communication And Social Symptoms
Pragmatic Language Most individuals on the autism spectrum have difficulty communicating with other people. This often becomes apparent during early childhood. Any delays in speech development and nonverbal communication should be evaluated by a qualified specialist.
Eye Contact and Nonverbal Communication Poor and avoidance of eye contact are common symptoms among those with autism. Other non-verbal communication difficulties may include recognizing and using facial expressions, physical gestures, and overall body language.
Tone of Voice Some people with autism may have difficulty regulating or modulating their tone of voice. As a result, they may speak too loudly, too quietly, and/or with a monotone voice.
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He Doesnt Want To Get Therapy
Many people on the spectrum suffer from alexithymia, which is an inability to place, identify the source, and distinguish ones feelings. Because of this communicative feeling deficit, many with ASD prefer facts, numbers, and statistics instead of discussions structured around emotion. Many will reject therapy as they find it conceptually difficult to leave behind their world of logic, ration, and equations into unchartered emotional territory.
Development Of Repetitive Or Restrictive Habits
Repetitive habits are another sign of high-functioning autism. Those habits could interfere with the persons ability to do what they need to do or what others want them to do. One type of repetitive habit might be related to movement. The individual might have to tie and untie their shoes multiple times before they are satisfied and are able to start walking or leave the house. Some people develop restrictive habits that interfere with socially accepted living. For example, an individual might refuse to wear any other kind of shirt than a tee shirt. This could impact their health and well-being if they live in a place with cold weather.
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Tip : Better Organize Your Life
While many adults with ASD are extremely organized, others may become so fixated on certain interests that other aspects of their lives become disorganized. If this is a challenge you face, these tips can help you stay organized:
Use a timer to stay on track. This can be especially useful when youre working on a hobby that youre intensely passionate about. Once the timer goes off, you know its time to switch to an activity that is less intriguing, but nonetheless important, such as paying bills or grocery shopping.
Use a list or day planner. If remembering appointments and other responsibilities is a challenge, use a paper planner or an organizational app for your cell phone. You could also use anything from spreadsheets to a whiteboard to help you organize daily tasks.
Automate certain aspects of your life. For example, use online banking to track spending and automatic payment options to manage your bills. This can also help you avoid the clutter that tends to build up when you receive paper billing statements in the mail.
What Are Patterns Of Behavior With Autism
Children with ASD also act in ways that seem unusual or have interests that arenât typical, including:
- Repetitive behaviors like hand-flapping, rocking, jumping, or twirling
- Constant moving and âhyperâ behavior
- Fixations on certain activities or objects
- Specific routines or rituals
- Extreme sensitivity to touch, light, and sound
- Not taking part in âmake-believeâ play or imitating othersâ behaviors
- Fussy eating habits
- Aggressive behavior, both with self and others
- Short attention span
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Characteristics Of Mild Autism
The DSM-5 details five diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Because the DSM-5 conceptualizes diagnoses as disorders and disabilities that cause functional problems, these symptoms are framed as deficits:
- Social deficits: Autistic people might approach conversations and social interactions in an abnormal way and have difficulty expressing and interpreting nonverbal cues. This can cause difficulty developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships.
- Repetitive or fixated behaviors, interests, or activities: Autistic people often repeat movements or words as a way to self-regulate, a behavior often referred to as stimming. They may also adhere to specific routines and have specific and intense interests. Finally, autistic people often have atypical reactions to sensory experiences, including being either very sensitive to touch, smell, light, or sound, or seeming to not notice these sensations.
- Early onset: Neurodivergence begins before birth. Although symptoms might not manifest until later in life , autistic people have been autistic their entire lives.
- Symptoms cause functional deficits: A clinical diagnosis of autism requires a person to experience difficulty at school, at work, in social situations, or in other settings. This is why many autistic people with low support needs might not be diagnosed until later in life.
- Symptoms are not due to another diagnosis: Some genetic conditions or trauma can cause behaviors that can look like autism.
Causes And Risk Factors
Researchers dont know the primary causes of ASD, but studies suggest that a persons genes can act together with aspects of their environment to affect development in ways that lead to ASD. Some factors that are associated with an increased likelihood of developing ASD include:
- Having a sibling with ASD
- Having older parents
- Having certain genetic conditions
- Having a very low birth weight
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How To Diagnose Autism In Adults
A psychologist or psychiatrist will often interview you to learn about the history of your autistic traits and observe how you respond, Fisher says. They will ask about the way you communicate with others and whether you have any strong, specific interests, repetitive behaviors, or sensory issues. These questions will help them see if you fit the criteria for ASD.
Diagnostic tools like the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule which is considered the gold standard in diagnosing ASD in adults are often used to structure and guide the assessment, Fisher adds. This diagnostic test takes about 40 to 60 minutes to administer.
The diagnostician may also want to interview family members as well to get insight into your childhood experiences, Hanks says.
Ultimately, the decision to get diagnosed depends on you. If you are distressed about certain aspects of your behavior and you’re questioning whether you might have ASD, getting a diagnosis could lead to appropriate treatment, support, and services, Fisher says.
“Many adults who have been diagnosed with autism report it helps them to understand themselves and be more self-aware of their areas of challenge,” Hanks says.
When Should I See My Doctor
If you think your child has ASD, see your doctor. Early intervention offers the best outcomes for children with ASD, whether their traits are obvious or subtle.
There may be different signs of autism at different ages.
- In the first year, your baby with ASD might not be interested in other people. They may not make eye contact with you. They may not smile or gesture like other babies.
- As toddlers, children with ASD might not respond to their name. They might focus on one or 2 activities repetitively, like lining up toys. They may not be interested in playing with other children. They might develop unusual ways of speaking.
- Older children with ASD might have difficulties in social situations, following instructions or making friends.
You might receive an autism diagnosis as an adult. You may spend your life feeling like you dont quite fit in. You may have difficulties with relationships, work and social situations. You may also have mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.
Autism Awareness Australia provides information about signs of autism in people at different ages.
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Autism Symptoms And Diagnosis In Adults
The mean age of autism diagnosis in the US and UK is 4 to 5, though later diagnoses do occur . Age at diagnosis depends upon variables such as symptom severity, socioeconomic status, and initial parental concerns or misidentification of symptoms as behavioral issues 60065-4/fulltext” rel=”nofollow”> Shattuck et al., 2009). Typically individuals with more severe symptom challenges receive an autism diagnosis early in life compared to those with subtle symptomatic differences . Those diagnosed later in life are thought to have less severe symptoms and a higher likelihood of reaching self-sufficiency and functionality . However, this successful adaptation to symptoms often masks an autism diagnosis and leaves many of these individuals to experience autism-related health issues without understanding the root cause .
Restrictive / Repetitive Behaviors May Include:
- Repeating certain behaviors or having unusual behaviors, such as repeating words or phrases
- Having a lasting intense interest in specific topics, such as numbers, details, or facts
- Showing overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects
- Becoming upset by slight changes in a routine and having difficulty with transitions
- Being more sensitive or less sensitive than other people to sensory input, such as light, sound, clothing, or temperature
People with ASD may also experience sleep problems and irritability.
People on the autism spectrum also may have many strengths, including:
- Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time
- Being strong visual and auditory learners
- Excelling in math, science, music, or art
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What Are The Benefits Of Being Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder As An Adult
If someone has lived with symptoms of autism their whole life into adulthood, and were never diagnosed, should they pursue diagnosis? Is it too late? What is the point of being diagnosed?
People with mild ASD are often very good at masking their symptoms. If they are undiagnosed, they may struggle with feeling different, misunderstood, or be confused by others behavior. This can cause serious problems and isolate them from their loved ones in ways they dont even realize.
Obtaining a diagnosis is a personal choice each individual adult must decide for themselves. For some, it is information they rather not have. For others, it changes their lives for the better.
It is important to note that adults diagnosed with ASD also had it in childhood. Just because it wasnt diagnosed till later in life, doesnt mean it didnt exist. Therefore much of the current research applies in retrospect.
What Is Borderline Autism In Adults
Borderline autism is a very controversial topic in and of itself. Much debate has occurred over whether or not it actually exists.
For the purposes of this article I will just say that borderline autism is really what it sounds like. It can be something as simple as having symptoms of autism spectrum disorder yet not meeting the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder. For more information, Autism Parenting Magazine writer Yolande Loftus has penned an informative article about borderline autism you can check out.
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Intense Feelings About Certain Sensory Experiences
Another big challenge for people with autism is their sensory processing power. This means that some sensory experiences will be disturbing while others can be soothing. These experiences can include exposure to:
This can be very specific to the individual. For example, you might find some smells or textures very soothing, while another person would hate them.
However, managing sensory overload is a common theme. Too much sensory input can be disruptive for anyone with autism. For example, you might find it overwhelming being in a crowded station or at a music concert.
This can cause serious emotional distress or a full-blown meltdown. As a result, you may find that you avoid certain situations or find other ways to accommodate them. For example, you may listen to music or wear sunglasses to limit your sensory input.
Fear of sensory overload can also result in social anxiety. This may mean that you avoid social situations altogether.
What Is Mild Autism
Mild autism in itself is not an official diagnosis term. There is no specific form of autism known as mild autism. In 2015 the diagnostic criteria for autism underwent a significant change with the publication of the DSM-5. These criteria created one universal diagnosis autism spectrum disorder and included within that diagnosis a level of support for each individual found to be on the spectrum. These criteria replaced the labels of Aspergers, mild autism, and high functioning autism that had come to characterize the different ways in which autism presents in other individuals.
An individual found to require Level 1 support on the autism spectrum would be considered to have what was once referred to as mild autism.
Generally, the symptoms of autism are apparent in the toddler years. However, these may not be identified as on the autism spectrum for individuals with milder symptoms until later into childhood. It is important to remember that symptoms that appear for the first time after the age of three will not warrant a diagnosis of autism.
Girls are often diagnosed later than boys, in part due to their ability to mask their symptoms.
Individuals with mild autism must still meet the criteria set to receive a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. The title mild can be misleading, as even those with mild autism symptoms will have developmental, communication, and sensory challenges associated with the disorder.
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