Challenges Faced By Adults With High
Coping with adult autism can be a struggle for some people. The2017 National Autism Indicators Report from the Autism Institute revealed low employment rates, as well as low levels of engagement among adults with autism.
In particular, persons with high-functioning autism often experience a lack of sufficient support since they may be deemed not in need of the kind of support systems available to those with more severe cases of autism.
And, there are other issues that compound these challenges. Especially if they are unaware of their condition, persons with high-functioning autism may be perplexed as to why they are different from others. This may be a contributing factor toanxiety and depression being frequentcomorbidities with adult autism.
- Mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Tourette syndrome, characterized by motor and vocal tics
- Pervasive developmental disorders unspecified
It is important to note that persons with high-functioning autism do not havean intellectual disability. This is one characteristic that sets them apart from persons at the other end of the autism spectrum. In low-functioning autism, intellectual disability is a frequent comorbidity.
Autism In Adults: Difference To Keep In Mind
Autism can look very different for different people.
- Some may have highly successful careers in demanding professions, such as video game production, art creation, robotics, and more.
- Others may attend day programs while working part-time jobs.
- Those with level 3 deficits may not be able to work due to their condition and live in assisted-living facilities.
- Some can be married, raise children and be highly involved with their young families
- Some may be unmarried, partnered, live with their parents or live alone following pursuits that give them great joy.
People can fall anywhere on the autism spectrum, which is why the treatment protocol is different for different people.
Difficulty Regulating Your Emotions Or Behavior
Emotional regulation or ER is an important part of daily life. This enables us to react to situations, changes, or emotional disturbances in a controlled way. This is something that we do automatically.
However, studies show that people with ASD struggle with emotional regulation. This may be because their ER skills do not develop over time, as most people do.
This can result in sudden or intense mood swings and difficulty responding to emotional situations. As a result, you may have outbursts or meltdowns to small changes in routines. Often these will seem disproportionate to their trigger
Difficulty with ER can also mean that you struggle to regulate dangerous or impulsive behavior. This might mean that you lash out when feeling intense emotions. It also makes addictive behaviors common in people who are living with high functioning autism.
Difficulty emotionally regulating can have a huge impact on your mental health and can impact your social skills. This makes it one of the biggest challenges of high functioning autism.
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What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disability that causes social, behavioral and communication challenges. Autism affects approximately one in every fifty-nine children in the United States. Symptoms vary widely from patient to patient.
Importance of Autism Awareness and Support
If you are looking for support services for children with Autism in Little Rock, knowing where in the Spectrum your child falls is important to finding appropriate care. Children with HFA tend to have very few intellectual challenges, and their IQ is usually above 70. Your child may score normally or above average on an IQ test and perform well in school, but she could still be autistic. Because children with HFA can have an above-average IQ and no intellectual challenges, High Functioning Autism awareness tends to be low. With little to no support for these children, they often become emotionally distressed.
Causes of Autism
The causes of autism have not been discovered, but doctors suggest the condition originates from structural underdevelopment of specific regions of the brain. There is no cure for ASD, but with therapeutictreatment for autism, your child can live a normal and fulfilling life. Knowing what to look for goes a long way in helping a child with autism receive the support they need.
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Autism Symptoms In Adults
Classic symptoms of autism in children are not always present in adults on the spectrum, especially in those underdiagnosed as children . Adults on the spectrum commonly exhibit symptoms related to social and communication difficulties, repetitive behaviors, sensory processing difficulties, and issues with executive function and theory of mind. Short descriptions and lists of common symptoms in adults are listed below .
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What Usually Happens During A Diagnostic Evaluation
Your providers evaluation of you might take anywhere from two days to two or more months, depending on the method your provider uses, and how busy he or she is. The provider doing your assessment may do the following:
- Ask you questions
- Ask you to take a series of tests
- Ask you to complete questionnaires about your autistic traits such as sensory issues, or other things that may relate to autism
- After getting your permission and if possible, interview your parents, other family members, or close friends who know you well or can give information about your childhood development
- Explore other possible diagnosis, for example, ADHD, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, or learning disabilities.
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Different Types Of Autism In Adults
Since Autism is a spectrum disorder, this means that there is a wide range of symptoms that people may experience.
Throughout the years, the definition of autism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has changed.
In 2013, Aspergers syndrome, childhood disintegrative syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified , autistic disorder, and Rett syndrome have been included under the umbrella term of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
These terms are not diagnosis now. They are used as descriptions. They help clinicians and parents better understand the status of their loved one with autism.
The terms may cause confusion as they are difficult to define. Practitioners selected different diagnoses for the same patients.
Therefore, certain terms like severe autism, mild autism and high functioning autism are used to clarify the diagnosis.
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Emotional And Behavioral Difficulties
- You have trouble regulating your emotions and your responses to them.
- Changes in routines and expectations cause 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.
- You make noises in places where quiet is expected.
How To Get Tested For Autism As An Adult
Todays Got Questions? answer is by neurologist David Beversdorf. Dr. Beversdorf works within theAutism Speaks Autism Treatment Network at the University of Missouris Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
Our 6 year old has been diagnosed with autism, and Id like to get evaluated, too. Problem is, I cant find anyone who knows how to diagnose adults. All the tests seem to be designed for children.
Thank you for your question. Its an important one. With awareness of autism so high today, its no longer as common for an autism diagnosis to be overlooked in childhood. However, this wasnt always the case. As a result, its not infrequent that I see teens and adults seeking a diagnosis. Like you, many are parents who begin connecting the dots after one of their children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder .
As you discovered, evaluating autism in a previously undiagnosed adult can be challenging. And yes, its true that the standardized diagnostic checklists we commonly use are designed for children. There are no established diagnostic tests for ASD in adults. However, Im glad to report that they are currently in development.
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Ners Of Autistic People
Some autistic people will successfully maintain relationships. However, like most relationships, there are challenges.
An adults diagnosis of autism often follows their childs diagnosis of autism or that of another relative. This double whammy can be extremely distressing to the partner who has to cope simultaneously with both diagnoses. Counselling, or joining a support group where they can talk with other people who face the same challenges, can be helpful.
An autistic partner, like any partner, will have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to relationships. A non-autistic partner may find that there are communication breakdowns, such as misunderstandings or finding that your partner is not able to predict your feelings. An autistic partner may need routine, order and time to pursue their hobbies.
Relationship counselling with a counsellor or psychologist experienced at working with autistic people can assist couples to develop strategies and to communicate more effectively with each other.
After Receiving A Diagnosis Contact Therapeutic Pathways
An autism diagnosis can make an enormous difference in your life.
Instead of being in the dark about the disorder and your symptoms, you will have the freedom to pursue treatment options and the awareness that you are not alone. Although most people with autism are diagnosed as children, plenty of adults are diagnosed later in life.
Dozens of online communities provide support and social interaction, as well as in-person resources available at autism centers like Therapeutic Pathways.
Even if youve experienced symptoms your whole life, you can take the steps to be diagnosed and treated in order to live a fuller, more satisfying life. For more information, contact Therapeutic Pathways at 422-3280.
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Strategies For Adults With Autism
Interventions for adult autism include therapy and setting up environmental accommodations that increase independence and improve quality of life. Interventions also depend on the level of support an autistic individual may need, and which personal differences they want to keep or change.
Cognitive behavior therapy , for example, may help autistic individuals cope with and understand the ways they experience the world differently compared to neurotypical individuals.
As far as accommodations and supports in and out of the home, they can include but are not limited to:
- assistive technology devices
- sensory-friendly spaces
- coaching to support long-term goals
Applied Behavior Analysis , a widely used intervention for autism , is also an option. However, many autistic individuals reject ABA, viewing it as a method that trains individuals to behave less autistic.
For autistic adults who may opt for ABA, a typical approach focuses on outlining the individuals goals and challenges that affect daily functioning, and implementing strategies to improve them in real-life situations.
Assessment And Diagnosis For Adults
You may have read or seen something about autism and thought Thats me!, or you may be the parent, partner or friend of an adult whom you think may be autistic. You are not alone. Because of our improved knowledge and understanding of these conditions, a number of adults are now being diagnosed.
Some people in this position choose to see a professional for a diagnosis, while others prefer not to. This is up to the individual. The important thing is to learn as much as you can about autism, to help you understand that autistic individuals can have a different view of the world around them, and might find socialising challenging.
Even a late diagnosis can still be very important for individuals, both for themselves and their families. A diagnosis can provide a much better understanding of the challenges an individual may face, and opportunities to find supports that can help.
There are a few scenarios where an adult will seek assessment for an autism diagnosis.
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How Should People With Autism Pick A College
People with autism have different educational paths. Some may not feel ready to move away to college at 18. A good solution, in that case, is to attend community college while living at home. Community colleges also tend to be practical and job-oriented, which people with autism may appreciate. The most important part of the decision is embarking on an academic path that they are confident they can complete.
What Is It Like To Be Diagnosed With Autism In Adulthood
People can have a variety of reactions to an autism diagnosis in adulthood. Some feel relief that there is a reason for the ways they think and behave. Some feel scared, as they fully acknowledge the condition and what it might mean for the future. Some feel shame, perhaps due to negative or misinformed portrayals of autism. Some feel regret for not seeking support sooner, and others feel acceptance toward the diagnosis and the differences that make them unique.
For many adults, an autism diagnosis can be life-changing. It provides a framework with which to understand themselves, it releases harmful core beliefs they held, and it allows them to embrace their authentic autistic selves. As two women with autism describe, the experience was like finally solving a lifelong riddle.
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If You Find It Hard To Get Diagnosed
It’s not always easy to get an autism assessment. Waiting times can also be very long.
If you’re finding it hard to get an assessment, you could ask to speak to someone else, like another GP this is called getting a second opinion.
It may also help to speak to other people who have been in a similar situation.
References Further Reading And Websites
- Great Britain, Autism Act 2009 . London: TSO.
- Department of Health, . Fulfilling and rewarding lives, a national strategy for adults with autism in England. London: TSO.
- National Audit Office, . Supporting People with Autism Through Adulthood. London: TSO.
- Department of Health, . Valuing people now: a new three-year strategy for people with learning disabilities. London: TSO.
- The National Autistic Society
- The Hoffman Foundation for Autism:
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Adult Autism And Adhd: Next Steps
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1 Hollingdale J., Woodhouse E., Young S, Fridman A, Mandy W. Autistic spectrum disorder symptoms in children and adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analytical review. Psychol Med, BMC Psychiatry. 19:404. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-019-2284-3
2 Lai, M. C., Lombardo, M. V., & Baron-Cohen, S. . Autism. Lancet , 383, 896910. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-673661539-1
3 Young, S., Hollingdale, J., Absoud, M. et al. . Guidance for identification and treatment of individuals with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder based upon expert consensus. BMC Medicine 18, 146. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-020-01585-y
Symptoms Of Autism In Adults To Watch For According To Man Diagnosed At 59 Years Old
More people than ever before are receiving relatively late formal diagnoses”
It took nearly 60 years for a local dad to finally get his diagnosis of autism.
After decades of trying to fit in and wondering why he felt different to his contemporaries, Stephen Stayner finally got the answers he was searching for – the Derbyshire dad was diagnosed with autism.
It is an issue that has been highlighted recently by Christine McGuinness, whose three children have been diagnosed with the condition, and, most recently, Christine herself – at the age of 33.
In light of figures that reveal that one in every 100 people is autistic, around 700,000 in the UK alone, Mr Stayner told Derbyshire Live that he now wants to help other people recognise the signs in themselves and others.
Mr Stayner, who is from Heanor, received confirmation of his condition relatively late in his life, at the age of 59.
He said: More people than ever before are receiving relatively late formal diagnoses.
But probably even more who fail to be screened will never come to fully understand exactly why they struggle to fit into a world primarily geared up for the neuro-typical population.
Unscreened autistics may simply continue to live with an inherent and unshakable belief that they are different to other people. Thats because they are.
Our brains are wired differently to those of the mainstream public not in a better or inferior way, just differently.
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Inflexibility And/or A Desire For Control
People with high functioning autism tend to have a very strong need for control over things in their life. In other words, their thinking process is often restrictive. So, their mind doesnt offer any flexibility on how things should happen. Thats why youll notice that they display rigid behavior patterns.
Even small irritations or slight changes can make it difficult for them to cope or concentrate. Until these irritants are resolved, they have a hard time moving on to something else. Examples include not finding the right pair of socks or the buzzing from a light bulb.
Stressors are extremely distracting and lead the autistic person to control their environment.
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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