Highly Focused Interests Or Hobbies
Many autistic people have intense and highly focused interests, often from a fairly young age. These can change over time or be lifelong. Autistic people can become experts in their special interests and often like to share their knowledge. A stereotypical example is trains but that is one of many. Greta Thunberg’s intense interest, for example, is protecting the environment.
Like all people, autistic people gain huge amounts of pleasure from pursuing their interests and see them as fundamental to their wellbeing and happiness.
Being highly focused helps many autistic people do well academically and in the workplace but they can also become so engrossed in particular topics or activities that they neglect other aspects of their lives.
Take a look at the Spectrum magazine, written for and by autistic people
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
Diagnosis In Older Children And Adolescents
ASD symptoms in older children and adolescents who attend school are often first recognized by parents and teachers and then evaluated by the schools special education team. The schools team may perform an initial evaluation and then recommend these children visit their primary health care doctor or doctors who specialize in ASD for additional testing.
Parents may talk with these specialists about their childs social difficulties including problems with subtle communication. These subtle communication issues may include problems understanding tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language. Older children and adolescents may have trouble understanding figures of speech, humor, or sarcasm. Parents may also find that their child has trouble forming friendships with peers.
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What Challenges Are Associated With Autism
Autism is often linked with physical, developmental or mental health conditions such as intellectual disability, epilepsy, gastro-intestinal issues, ADHD, dyspraxia, anxiety or depression.
However, many of the disabling challenges associated with autism come about when individuals dont have the respect, understanding and supports that allow them to be comfortable in a non-autistic world.
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
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Limitations Of Asd Levels
Although the ASD levels are useful for diagnosing autism severity and support needs, the categories don’t give a full picture of the strengths and limitations of each level.
The three levels are not entirely inclusive of the symptoms and needs of all people with autism. The DSM-5 offers little specificity regarding the types of support that individuals need or situations when support is needed.
For example, some people with ASD need support at school but are fine at home, while others may do well at school but struggle in social situations.
What’s more, the level a person is assigned when they’re first diagnosed can shift as they develop and refine their social skills, and as anxiety, depression, or other issues common among people with autism change or grow more severe.
Assigning people to one of the three levels of autism can be useful for understanding what types of services and supports would serve them best.
It won’t, however, predict or account for unique details in their personality and behavior, which means the support and services they receive will need to be highly individualized.
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
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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 challenging.
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.
Better understanding the set of challenges you face can help you find new and inventive ways to work with or around those challenges. You can also work with your clinician and your family to seek treatments that may be right for you.
Do I Believe That Everyone Is On The Spectrum
Personally, I feel like there is something to be said for both opinions. However, if someone is autistic and discussing the challenges they are facing, its better to just lend an ear than try and sympathise with a myth full of half-truths.
Even within the autistic community, I will never use my experiences of being autistic to judge or manipulate someone elses, as the complete variance of how autism impacts on us all means that, even as an autist myself, my opinions and experiences are so different to others that it would be damaging to assume everyone is like me.
This doesnt mean people should stop trying to empathise with autists though. But maybe next time, instead of saying We are all on the spectrum try saying something like I see where youre coming from or Ive experienced something similar. It still sends the same message but it doesnt carry the same risk of backfiring and causing more harm than good.
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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.
Social And Communication Skills
Impairments in social skills present many challenges for autistic individuals. Deficits in social skills may lead to problems with friendships, romantic relationships, daily living, and vocational success. One study that examined the outcomes of autistic adults found that, compared to the general population, those with ASD were less likely to be married, but it is unclear whether this outcome was due to deficits in social skills or intellectual impairment, or some other reason.
Prior to 2013, deficits in social function and communication were considered two separate symptoms of autism. The current criteria for autism diagnosis require individuals to have deficits in three social skills: social-emotional reciprocity, nonverbal communication, and developing and sustaining relationships.
Some of the symptoms related to social reciprocity include:
- Lack of mutual sharing of interests: many autistic children prefer not to play or interact with others.
- Lack of awareness or understanding of other people’s thoughts or feelings: a child may get too close to peers without noticing that this makes them uncomfortable.
- Atypical behaviors for attention: a child may push a peer to gain attention before starting a conversation.
Symptoms related to relationships includes the following:
- Defects in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships.
- Difficulties adjusting behavior to fit social contexts.
Autistic people may experience difficulties with verbal communication:
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What Is The History Of Autism
The understanding of autism has developed over a number of decades. While the term autism was defined by Kanner, there is varying evidence that other professionals, including Grunya Efimovna Sukhareva and Paul Bleuler, had recognised the unique presentation of symptoms much earlier than this. Since the 1940s the diagnostic criteria has evolved and shifted as we learn more but now autism is widely understood as a spectrum of conditions with wide-ranging degrees of impairment
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How Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Play
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder tend to be less spontaneous than other kids. Unlike a typical curious little kid pointing to things that catch their eye, children with ASD often appear disinterested or unaware of whats going on around them. They also show differences in the way they play. They may have trouble with functional play, or using toys that have a basic intended use, such as toy tools or cooking set. They usually dont play make-believe, engage in group games, imitate others, collaborate, or use their toys in creative ways.
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He Lacks Social Skills
When people are on the autism spectrum, they have many challenges when it comes to social situations. They may avoid eye contact, talk about inappropriate topics, and have difficulty understanding the gestures, body language, and facial expressions of others.
People with ASD may avoid group events as much as possible because they have trouble making small talk and not knowing when people are teasing.
Elizabeth Laugeson, PsyD said in an American Psychological Association podcast,
“I think difficulty with conversational skills, for example, makes it very, very difficult to develop meaningful and close relationships with people, whether they be friendships or romantic relationships. And difficulty picking up on social cues and understanding the perspectives of others, knowing how someone might actually react to something that we say or something we do. That sort of difficulty makes it really challenging for people with autism to develop these relationships.”
Signs You Could Be On The Autism Spectrum
Most of the stories you hear about people on the autistic spectrum feature them being diagnosed as children. It’s definitely common for signs of autism to first be noticed in childhood, when autistic kids don’t do much pretend play and find social interaction difficult. But it’s also perfectly possible for people, particularly those with more functional forms of autism , to reach adulthood without ever knowing they actually have a place in the autistic community.
When we talk about “the autistic spectrum,” we’re referring to a very wide range of disorders under the one banner of autism. There’s no one way to present autistic signs, which is why diagnostic tests about the possibility of autism in adults tend to be seriously involved. One quiz, offered by Psych Central to determine whether you might want to seek diagnosis from a medical professional, offers 50 different questions, from social interaction to patterns and empathy. But the basics of autism of any kind, according to The National Autistic Society, are three difficulties: with social communication, social interaction, and social imagination.
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Who Resolution On Autism Spectrum Disorders
In May 2014, the Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly adopted a resolution entitled “Comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorders ,” which was supported by more than 60 countries.
The resolution urges WHO to collaborate with Member States and partner agencies to strengthen national capacities to address ASD and other developmental disabilities.
You Want More Friends But Don’t Know How
There’s a common misconception that people with autism don’t like people, but that’s just not the case. People with autism really want to have close friends, they just don’t know how.
Dr. Marsh says that, “If you marveled at how other kids could make friends so easily, but you didnt know how,” this could be a sign of autism.
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Autism Spectrum Disorder In The Dsm
The DSM-V defines Autism Spectrum Disorder as persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests , present since early childhood, to the extent that these limit and impair everyday functioning. All these criteria must be met for a formal diagnosis of ASD. This is why people who have some but not all of the features and people who have learned to manage their autism in a familiar environment may have difficulty getting a formal diagnosis. These people will often benefit from some of the same strategies that are helpful for autistic people. For this reason, interventions should be based on an assessment of a persons strengths and difficulties rather than the diagnosis.
He Has Unusual Physical Behaviors
Some of the classic indicators of ASD are repetitive speech, physical tics, and looking anywhere else besides a person’s eyes when speaking with them. People on the spectrum may exhibit unusual behavior due to difficulties they have in responding to their environment.
Behaviors may include unusually tense or focused interests, stereotyped and repetitive body movements such as hand flapping and spinning, repetitive use of objects such as flipping lights on and off, insistence on sticking to routines, unusual sensory interests such as sniffing objects, and sensory sensitivities including avoidance of everyday sounds.
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Am I Autistic 17 Signs You May Be On The Autism Spectrum
Although advances are being made in the field every day, we still don’t know everything there is to know about autism. Right now, a person can be diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, which scales autism and related conditions under one big ol’ umbrella.
The autism spectrum records a series of disorders characterized by difficulty communicating and difficulty interacting with others. Back in the day, for most people, being autistic meant being like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man. Now, doctors, experts, and people on the spectrum themselves are redefining what it means to have an ASD .
While most people with autism are diagnosed in early childhood when language and socialization skills are developing, parents often notice that certain developmental markers aren’t being met and this leads them to an eventual diagnosis.
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But just because you aren’t diagnosed as having autism as a child, that doesn’t mean you can never be diagnosed. Every family has that one odd-ball, and now, thanks to continued research in the field, we’re becoming more understanding of ASD and realizing that some people with these “quirks” may actually be somewhere on the spectrum.
If you have ever wondered “Am I autistic?” we’ve gathered 17 symptoms and signs of autism that could indicate you share behaviors with people commonly diagnosed.
Understanding The Three Levels Of Autism
Steven Gans, MD, is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
There are three levels of autism spectrum disorder , which are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition .
Each person with ASD is further diagnosed with either ASD level 1, level 2, or level 3, depending on how severe their disorder is and how much support they need in their daily life.
The levels range from least to most severe, with ASD level 3 describing an individual who has the most severe level of ASD symptoms, and ASD level 1 describing someone with symptoms on the milder end of the spectrum.
This article discusses the symptoms that are typical of each of the three ASD levels. It also includes realistic examples of the strengths and limitations that are unique to each level.
Verywell / Cindy Chung
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