The Costs Of Pretending In Public
Researchers from that 2016 study found that all this constant camouflaging often comes with costs, like exhaustion, increased stress, meltdowns due to social overload, anxiety, depression, and even a negative impact on the development of ones identity.
I find the last part interesting. I think all the other costs read similar to those warnings listed on new and miraculous medications you see advertised on television .
I dont necessarily think all my camouflaging has had a negative impact on my identity development, but I do know that much of my teenage journaling was peppered with the phrase, All I ever wanted was to be real.
I never thought about why I used the phrase so often. But looking back, I think it was just my way of coming to terms with that fact that I wasnt like anyof my friends. For a long while, I thought they were more real, more authentic, than I was.
Scientists now know that some autistic people actually feel more emotions than regular people. We are, in many ways, more in tune with the nuances and ups and downs of the psyches of those around us.
I think thats true. One of my skills has always been the ability to see things from multiple perspectives. I can step out of myself and see where another person is coming from. And I can sense what theyre feeling.
So, yes, Im all right with altering my behavior to keep them from being uncomfortable. If theyre comfortable, I sense that too, and then were both more comfortable.
Get An Autism Diagnosis
Arrange an autism assessment for your child as early as you can. A thorough assessment is important for an accurate autism diagnosis. It helps to think of the assessment as a benchmark or starting point for support for your child. You can use the assessment to measure your childs progress.
For a thorough assessment and a specific autism diagnosis, make an appointment with a professional trained in diagnosing autism, like apsychologist, speech pathologist or paediatrician. You might need a referral from your childs nurse or GP.
Autism diagnosis is based on observing your child, talking to you and others about your child, and looking at your childs developmental history. It usually involves many health professionals.
What Are The Signs Of Autism
Symptoms of autism usually appear before a child turns 3. Some people show signs from birth.
- A lack of eye contact
- A narrow range of interests or intense interest in certain topics
- Doing something over and over, like repeating words or phrases, rocking back and forth, or flipping a lever
- High sensitivity to sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem ordinary to other people
- Not looking at or listening to other people
- Not looking at things when another person points at them
- Not wanting to be held or cuddled
- Problems understanding or using speech, gestures, facial expressions, or tone of voice
- Talking in a sing-song, flat, or robotic voice
- Trouble adapting to changes in routine
Some children with autism may also have seizures. These might not start until adolescence.
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Dont Wait For A Diagnosis
As the parent of a child with ASD or related developmental delays, the best thing you can do is to start treatment right away. Seek help as soon as you suspect somethings wrong. Dont wait to see if your child will catch up later or outgrow the problem. Dont even wait for an official diagnosis. The earlier children with autism spectrum disorder get help, the greater their chance of treatment success. Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your childs development and reduce the symptoms of autism over the lifespan.
When your child has autism
Learn about autism. The more you know about autism spectrum disorder, the better equipped youll be to make informed decisions for your child. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.
Become an expert on your child. Figure out what triggers your kids challenging or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your child find stressful or frightening? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your child, youll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing or modifying situations that cause difficulties.
Dont give up. Its impossible to predict the course of autism spectrum disorder. Dont jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your child. Like everyone else, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.
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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Communicate With Your Team
Communicating with the doctor, therapist, teachers, and other healthcare providers can help make your daily tasks a lot easier.
For parents, this can mean asking for suggestions to continue practicing the skills your child is learning in therapy, which makes it easier for them to be more successful.
Autism Therapy Services Offered At Open Doors Therapy:
Our autism therapy clinic located in the South Bay Area serves teens and adults on the autism spectrum. We help high functioning individuals who identify as having Aspergers, high functioning autism, undiagnosed ASD traits, and their families.
Right now, we are providing all our autism counseling services online. Our autism therapists offer a variety of counseling services including individual counseling for autistic teens and adults, parent counseling, and group therapy. Also, we run several different social skills groups for neurodiverse working professionals, college students with autistic traits, gifted youth & caregivers, neurodiverse adults, women who identify as neurodiverse, a summer social skills college transition training program for youth transitioning to college, teens & caregivers, and a mothers group. Contact our autism therapy office for more information on our services or to schedule a consultation.
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How Is Autism Diagnosed
It can be hard to get a definite diagnosis of autism. Your doctor will focus on behavior and development.
For children, diagnosis usually takes two steps.
- A developmental screening will tell your doctor whether your child is on track with basic skills like learning, speaking, behavior, and moving. Experts suggest that children be screened for these developmental delays during their regular checkups at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months of age. Children are routinely checked specifically for autism at their 18-month and 24-month checkups.
- If your child shows signs of a problem on these screenings, theyâll need a more complete evaluation. This might include hearing and vision tests or genetic tests. Your doctor might want to bring in someone who specializes in autism disorders, like a developmental pediatrician or a child psychologist. Some psychologists can also give a test called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule .
If you werenât diagnosed with autism as a child but notice yourself showing signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Turning 22 With Autism
The relative lack of information for and about adults on the spectrum means that many parents or guardians suddenly find themselves scrambling when their childnow a young adultreaches the magical age of 22.
That’s because, on their 22nd birthday, people with autism suddenly lose their entitlement to services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and enter the much chancier world of adult services.
While the IDEA requires schools to offer “free and appropriate education” to all children, there is no such requirement for adults. As a result, funding and programming for adults may or may not be available at any given time.
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You Find It Difficult To Socially Read People
Autism is, in its many forms, often about looking at the world very literally. And that means social situations can seem extremely weird, because there are a lot of unspoken rules, assumptions, communications, and other messages in any social situation, many of which may pass the autistic person by. If you feel perpetually as if you’re getting it wrong in social situations and don’t know why, you may simply be “socially deaf” to these kinds of cues.
Job Options Depend On Abilities And Challenges
One of the hardest realities to face as an autistic self-advocate or the parent of an autistic child is that their abilities are not always enough to getand keepa good job.
For example, a young autistic adult could be a brilliant mathematician, but if they cant generalize their skills to a needed functionsuch as accounting or statisticsthere might not be a job for them.
Other issues that can be serious obstacles to employment for autistic adults include:
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Difficulty Maintaining Eye Contact
People living with autism may avoid eye contact because it can cause them stress or pain.
This can go beyond avoiding a strangers gaze.
Adults on the autism spectrum consistently struggle to make or maintain eye contact even with people they are comfortable around, including family, friends, and coworkers.
The lack of eye contact doesnt mean theres a lack of interest.
Autistic adults may experience high levels of stimulation in their brain when making eye contact with others, so avoiding eye contact is a way of avoiding anxiety or physical discomfort.
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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How To Know If Youre Autistic
An autism diagnosis can bring clarity to people who might have gone through their whole lives feeling different or inadequate. When some people receive a diagnosis, they feel as though many things now make sense. Will an autism diagnosis bring clarity to your life? First, you will need to see if you are on the autism spectrum.
This test can help you gauge whether certain behaviors are similar to those who are on the autism spectrum. Your results are not a diagnosis. No one can diagnose themselves with autism. If you believe that you might be autistic, you should reach out to a mental health professional that can evaluate you with proper tools and is certified to diagnose people.
Know that, even though your results may point you to seek an evaluation, you do not have to. You may display certain behaviors that result in miscommunication or a little frustration, but they do not interfere with your ability to form relationships and hold a job. Its okay to go about your usual routine and not seek out a diagnosis. But if you find that you are having serious trouble in social situations or certain behaviors make you extremely anxious, reach out to a professional.
Keep an open mind. A professional may assess you and determine that you are experiencing another form of neurodivergence, like ADHD. A similar diagnosis may shine a better light on the symptoms you are experiencing and offer a better treatment for living a successful, happy life.
Do I Have Autism Test
In recent years, research has come out suggesting that autism has been underdiagnosed in children and adults. Signs of autism may be overlooked, or parents fail to pursue a diagnosis due to stigmas surrounding the developmental disorder. As time goes on and conversations around autism are more open, people are realizing that quirks they have had are actually signs of autism spectrum disorder.
This test is not meant to be a diagnosis of autism, but it may shed a light on how your behavior compares to those who have received a diagnosis. If these behaviors are negatively impacting your life, there are options for you to receive a diagnosis and seek out accommodations at work, school, or at home. With more acceptance and understanding surrounding autism, we are able to create more inclusive spaces and make sure every person can enjoy their lives.
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Employment Choices Should Be Self
Some autistic adults know exactly what kind of work they want , while others have no idea what kind of job theyd like to have.
Just like everyone else, autistic adults have the responsibility and the right to direct their own lives.
Even if a person has limited verbal skills, they still need to know that the work they are doing matches their interests and abilities, and gives them a sense of purpose.
School counselors and agency personnel can use tools such as vocational and aptitude tests to help autistic people figure out which career path would be a good fit for them.
An autistic persons vision can then be made part of their transition plan. That makes it easier to plan for training, internships, and vocational opportunities.
Educate Yourself About Autism
New resources for understanding and living with autism appear seemingly every day.
Talk to doctors, researchers, or speech pathologists with expertise in autism to learn:
- more about autism and how it works
- whats happening in a neurodivergent brain
- how you can advocate for your teen when others dont understand or accept who they are
Read plenty of books and visit online resources, too. Here are just a few:
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You Find It Much Easier To Be Alone
Autism in many forms is distinguished by feelings of social difficulty: not quite understanding, integrating, keeping up, or doing the “right thing” in social situations. Many autistics feel, obviously, that being on their own is a much easier option. Interestingly, some scientists believe that autistics could actually have originally been early “solitary foragers,”who survived in the wild on the strength of their attention to detail and ability to see patterns rather than their social ties. It’s still early days for that hypothesis, but it’s an intriguing idea.
Tip : Find Nonverbal Ways To Connect
Connecting with an autistic child can be challenging, but you dont need to talkor even touchin order to communicate and bond. You communicate by the way you look at your child, by the tone of your voice, your body language and possibly the way you touch your child. Your child is also communicating with you, even if he or she never speaks. You just need to learn the language.
Look for nonverbal cues. If you are observant and aware, you can learn to pick up on the nonverbal cues that autistic children use to communicate. Pay attention to the kinds of sounds they make, their facial expressions, and the gestures they use when theyre tired, hungry, or want something.
Figure out the motivation behind the tantrum. Its only natural to feel upset when you are misunderstood or ignored, and its no different for children with ASD. When children with ASD act out, its often because youre not picking up on their nonverbal cues. Throwing a tantrum is their way of communicating their frustration and getting your attention.
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Your Autism Is What Makes You Unique
First, an ASD diagnosis in no way changes who you are. It does not make you any less amazing than you were before. Your neurodiversity is just one characteristic of yourself that sets you apart from everyone else. Its what makes you UNIQUE. Unfortunately, many neurodiverse individuals experience a variety of different microaggressions or traumas throughout their life. They are often bullied or taken advantage of. Often, their sensitivities or challenges are dismissed. This makes them feel very othered and different. Perhaps, you longed to fit in so you tried to hide these parts of yourself and conform to the world around you. So, you may have felt shame over not quite fitting in with your peers.
Early Adult Autism Exploration
There are many online tests and guides that can help push someone who is suspicious they may be autistic in the right direction and answer some early questions, but the only way to pinpoint autism with certainty is to see a qualified professional.
According to PsycheCentral, many adults who do finally receive a diagnosis find it comes as a relief. Knowing theres a reason behind their difficulties can make coping a little easier, and a firm diagnosis can open doors to numerous treatment options. So it may be worth the exploration, though some adults are satisfied to know that they think they are autistic and then move on.
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