How To Distinguish Between Social Anxiety And Autism
This article was written by Luna Rose. Luna Rose is an autistic community member who specializes in writing and autism. She holds a degree in Informatics and has spoken at college events to improve understanding about disabilities. Luna Rose leads wikiHow’s Autism Project.There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 83,274 times.
Social anxiety disorder and autism can be surprisingly difficult to tell apart, and can co-occur, making the process harder. However, distinguishing the two is important for diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect that you or a loved one could have social anxiety or be autistic, learning about both conditions can help you tell them apart and seek an accurate diagnosis.
Some People Use Other Names For Autism
There are other names for autism used by some people, such as:
- autism spectrum disorder the medical name for autism
- autism spectrum condition used instead of ASD by some people
- Aspergers used by some people to describe autistic people with average or above average intelligence
Unlike some people with autism, people with Aspergers do not have a learning disability.
Some people call this high-functioning autism.
Doctors do not diagnose people with Aspergers anymore.
But if you were diagnosed with it before, this will stay as your diagnosis.
Positive Known Traits Of People With Autism Spectrum Disorder
1.People with autism do not know how to lie because they are concrete thinking people, they rarely lie.
All humans always talk about how important the truth is to us. But we all lie when it is needed. Many people who have completed their neurological development can easily lie and hide the truth. On the other hand, this is not easy for people with autism and they cannot understand being lied to.
Individuals on the autism spectrum tend to tell the truth no matter what. They reflect their feelings as they are, without the need to hide them. They say the thought that comes to their mind as it is, without the need for modification. If a person with autism says you look great, they really think you look great, or if a person with autism says you look ugly, they think you look ugly.
2. People with autism live the moment and the beauty at the moment.
Individuals who have completed their development normally do not pay much attention to what is happening around them, as they can be easily distracted. Individuals with autism, on the other hand, are very attentive to every detail around them. They notice all the details that we do not notice, and they see the beauty around them.
3. Individuals on the autism spectrum do not judge others easily.
4. Individuals with autism do everything they do with great passion.
5. Social expectations are not important for individuals with autism, their moods are not dependent on social expectations.
9. People with autism do not have a secret life.
Also Check: What Is A Social Story For Autism
What Are The Types Of Autism
In the past, doctors diagnosed autism according to four different subtypes of the condition. However, healthcare professionals now classify autism spectrum disorder as one broad category with three different levels to specify the degree of support an autistic person needs.
Before 2013, healthcare professionals defined the four types of autism as:
- childhood disintegrative disorder
- pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified
However, the American Psychiatric Association revised their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013, which did not include these four subtypes of autism. They now all fall under the one umbrella term of ASD.
Keep reading to learn more about how we categorize ASD, including the various levels, and how doctors diagnose the condition.
ASD is now the umbrella term for the group of complex neurodevelopmental disorders that make up autism. It is a condition that affects communication and behavior.
The autism spectrum refers to the variety of potential differences, skills, and levels of ability that are present in autistic people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , around in the United States are on the autism spectrum.
The differences in autistic people are often present from early childhood and can impact daily functioning.
Autistic people can experience the following challenges:
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, early signs of ASD can
The Importance Of Early Diagnosis
As stated previously, most individuals are diagnosed with ASD as children, yet many still do not get diagnosed until later in life for various reasons. ASD must be diagnosed early on so that interventions can begin.
The CDC states the following and lists the steps in the process of screening and diagnosing ASD:
Monitoring, screening, evaluating, and diagnosing children with ASD as early as possible is important to make sure children receive the services and support they need to reach their full potential.
- Developmental monitoring
- Comprehensive developmental evaluation
For more details, review the CDCs Fact Sheet on Developmental Monitoring and Screening.
As an adult, there is no technical diagnostic test for ASD, but a clinician can help with the diagnostic process. If you believe you may have ASD, contact your physician to discuss what you need to do to get an official diagnosis. And if you feel you have ASD but dont want a diagnosis, that is completely okay too. Whatever you feel needs to happen for you to be happy and successful in life is what matters the most.
Read Also: How Autism Freed Me To Be Myself
Level : Requires Very Substantial Support
Level 3 is the most severe form of autism. Children in this category will have many of the same behaviors as those with levels 1 and 2, but to a more extreme degree.
Problems expressing themselves both verbally and nonverbally can make it very hard to function, interact socially, and deal with a change in focus or location. Engaging in repetitive behaviors is another symptom of level 3 ASD.
A person with ASD level 3 will have a very limited ability to speak clearly and will rarely start interactions with other people. When they do, they will do so awkwardly. Someone with level 3 will also respond only to very direct social approaches from other people.
Difference Between Autism And Autism Spectrum Disorder
Id like to help you all understand the difference between Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder by applying it to a real-life situation. Which, in this case, will be my own.
Twenty-one years ago, my daughter was born with Ring 4 Chromosome Disorder, which caused numerous complications, including Autism. I had a very limited access to information at the time, and the information I got was indefinitely confusing. Now, thanks to the Internet, there are far too many articles on Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder, and they are, more often than not, much more complex than they need to be. A majority of them spend more time placing the blame on what actually causes Autism than what we really want to know, which is how to understand it.
So in a reduced answer, the difference between the two is as follows.
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Level : Requiring Substantial Support
The communication issues that a person with Level 2 ASD may face include:
- noticeable issues with verbal and nonverbal social communication skills
- social issues being apparent despite supports in place
- limited initiation of social interaction
- reduced response to social interactions from others
- interactions that are limited to narrow special interests
- more significant differences in nonverbal communication
The repetitive behavioral issues a person with Level 2 ASD may face include:
- inflexible behavior
- struggling to cope with change
- restricted or repetitive behaviors that are obvious to a casual observer and interfere with functioning in several contexts
- difficulty changing focus or action
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Previously Called Autism And Pervasive Developmental Disorders
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the following:
- Difficulties in social communication differences, including verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Deficits in social interactions.
- Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities and sensory problems
Many of those with ASD can have delayed or absence of language development, intellectual disabilities, poor motor coordination and attention weaknesses.
Read Also: What Does It Mean To Be Mildly Autistic
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, autistic individuals may exhibit extraordinary talents in visual skills, music, math, and art. And roughly 40 percent of autistic individuals 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.
Signs Of Autism In Adults
Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong condition and some people with autism spectrum disorder are not diagnosed until they are adults. This could be because they fall into the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum and their symptoms are less severe, or because they were misdiagnosed with a condition such as or .
Although treatment can improve some outward symptoms, people with autism will always process sensations such as sound, sight, touch and smell in different ways.
Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that adults will have different experiences of day-to-day living. An adult with mild symptoms, who is towards the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum, may:
- Have difficulties with social interactions
- Avoid making eye contact
- Not understand nonverbal facial or body gestures, such as frowning or shrugging
- Not understand changes in tone of voice, such as sarcasm
- Be comforted by rules and routine
- Get upset at changes to routines
- Be under- or over-sensitive to loud noises, strong smells or tastes
- Engage in repetitive behaviors, such as pacing or hand flapping
- Have a narrow range of interests
- Have a good memory and recall of facts
An adult who is towards the lower functioning range of the autism spectrum may:
Employment may present a challenge for adults with autism. People with autism are likely to need adjustments to be able to work productively, such as lights that do not flicker or a quiet space to work in.
Also Check: How To Get Autism Test
Difference Between Having Autistic Traits And Being Autistic
tree said:TLDR“…it seems reasonable to assume that ASDs and ALTs differ from each other in means of severity and/or degrees of functional impairment.””…the findings call for reconsideration of the value of categorical diagnoses”
FormerlyAutistic said:If I understood correctly, every trait, characteristic, etc. that autistic people have is also found in people with autistic-like traits who aren’t considered autistic according to current diagnostic criteria.I think that would mean there is no fine line between autistic and neurotypical. There’s just one continuous line with people with ALT being in the middle of it and a mostly meaningless line separating ASD from ALT.
It’s up to the diagnostician’s discretion. This is part of why there’s often argument over the topic of, “Should I seek a diagnosis?” A common reply to this is, “If you’re not seeking to receive benefits then there’s no receive to other than personal affirmation.”This is also how you were able to declare yourself “formerly autistic.”
Gone sideways to the sun
FormerlyAutistic said:I think that would mean there is no fine line between autistic and neurotypical. There’s just one continuous line with people with ALT being in the middle of it and a mostly meaningless line separating ASD from ALT.
A Lack Of General Social Skills
A child with autism may have a difficult time interacting with others, both their own age and older. This doesnt necessarily mean that the child is introverted and doesnt like speaking to others there are a range of different social difficulties that could be on display.
For example, a child with autism may not respond to their name, avoid eye contact, struggle with empathy, and find it difficult to properly comprehend their own emotions.
Recommended Reading: How To Know If You Are On The Autism Spectrum
Repetitive And Restrictive Behaviour
With its unwritten rules, the world can seem a very unpredictable and confusing place to autistic people. This is why they often prefer to have routines so that they know what is going to happen. They may want to travel the same way to and from school or work, wear the same clothes or eat exactly the same food for breakfast.
Autistic people may also repeat movements such as hand flapping, rocking or the repetitive use of an object such as twirling a pen or opening and closing a door. Autistic people often engage in these behaviours to help calm themselves when they are stressed or anxious, but many autistic people do it because they find it enjoyable.
Change to routine can also be very distressing for autistic people and make them very anxious. It could be having to adjust to big events like Christmas or changing schools, facing uncertainty at work, or something simpler like a bus detour that can trigger their anxiety.
Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism is not a single disorder, but a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. Every individual on the autism spectrum has problems to some degree with social interaction, empathy, communication, and flexible behavior. But the level of disability and the combination of symptoms varies tremendously from person to person. In fact, two kids with the same diagnosis may look very different when it comes to their behaviors and abilities.
If youre a parent dealing with a child on the autism spectrum, you may hear many different terms including high-functioning autism, atypical autism, autism spectrum disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. These terms can be confusing, not only because there are so many, but because doctors, therapists, and other parents may use them in dissimilar ways.
But no matter what doctors, teachers, and other specialists call the autism spectrum disorder, its your childs unique needs that are truly important. No diagnostic label can tell you exactly what challenges your child will have. Finding treatment that addresses your childs needs, rather than focusing on what to call the problem, is the most helpful thing you can do. You dont need a diagnosis to start getting help for your childs symptoms.
Whats in a name?
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Getting An Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis
The road to an ASD diagnosis can be difficult and time-consuming. In fact, it is often two to three years after the first symptoms of ASD are noticed before an official diagnosis is made. This is due in large part to concerns about labeling or incorrectly diagnosing the child. However, an ASD diagnosis can also be delayed if the doctor doesnt take a parents concerns seriously or if the family isnt referred to health care professionals who specialize in developmental disorders.
If youre worried that your child has ASD, its important to seek out a clinical diagnosis. But dont wait for that diagnosis to get your child into treatment. Early intervention during the preschool years will improve your childs chances for overcoming their developmental delays. So look into treatment options and try not to worry if youre still waiting on a definitive diagnosis. Putting a potential label on your kids problem is far less important than treating the symptoms.
What To Ask Your Childs Doctor
To diagnose autism, a doctor will check your childâs development and behavior. The doctor may ask you questions, take a full health history, and observe your kid’s behavior.
If the doctor thinks they might have ASD, they may suggest an evaluation. Thatâs when a team of experts who specialize in autism — including a neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, speech therapist, or other professionals — do a series of tests and screenings to see if your child has autism or another issue, like a psychological or speech disorder.
If you think your child may have been misdiagnosed with autism or may have another health problem, ask your childâs doctor these questions:
Have you checked my childâs hearing?Hearing problems can cause speech development delays and other issues that can be mistaken for autism.
Are there other tests we should consider?For example, if you live in an old home, you may want to request a test to check for lead in your childâs blood.
Can I see a specialist or a team of specialists?If your doctor says your kid has autism, but your child hasnât also seen a neurologist, psychiatrist, or other professionals who specialize in ASD, ask for referrals so you can get more information.
Can we move forward with treatment even if weâre not sure what this is?If your child has a developmental delay that may or may not be autism, treatment such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, or social skills training may still help.
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