Our capacity to socialize and communicate with others is central to how we function in society, and if you’re struggling with autism spectrum disorder (commonly known as simply autism) your ability to do that is in some way compromised. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 36 children have been diagnosed with the condition, with boys at four times the risk of the condition than girls.
However, the CDC also reports for the first time in 2020 that over 2% of adults also struggle with this illness and that it can be harder to identify it in teens and adults. If you have recently found out you have autism and don’t know how to proceed, let’s examine the difficulty in getting this diagnosis in adults, the symptoms to look for, and how to manage life with this condition.
Part of the problems with diagnosing this developmental condition in adults is that it’s a recently observed phenomenon. As mentioned earlier, the first CDC test was only a few years ago, and it doesn’t help that no two adults with the condition are alike. People dealing with this can find it harder to integrate and function normally, but many others are able to have long-term relationships and successful careers. Dealing with such a vast variation in a population with a single condition simply makes it harder to find.
Most adults with autism won’t have any reasons to assume they have this illness, because if they went undiagnosed as kids, they’re not going to understand anything is different when they’re getting older. So to help, here are what those signs may look like:
If you have problems interpreting various physical and verbal cues, like emotional expressions or people raising and lowering their voice, or if you find it difficult to understand conversational cues like metaphors, it can be a sign of autism.
Differences in individuals are completely normal, and we are taught to accept each other’s differences. Sometimes, that can be ignoring signs of autism, if awkwardness and misunderstanding social norms are never identified, and people continue these behaviors into adulthood.
Also known as self-stimulating behaviors, this is the tendency to repeat bodily functions to feel better, like tapping feet, rocking back and forth, touching your fingers together, or flapping your arms.
This means being either overstimulated or understimulated by the world around you. People with autism can be overwhelmed by the world around them or find themselves having to do more to stimulate reactions (louder music, spicier foods, or brighter colors)
Understanding that you have autism as an adult is significant in itself: You gain some idea of why your perceptions or behaviors seem different than other people’s and are able to put it in some context. When looking for help dealing with the various struggles of this condition, the focus should be on recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and letting us work with you to find ways of adapting those aspects of yourself to your everyday life. The goal now becomes to use what you know about yourself and what we understand about autism to help you address your individual needs.
This is a lifelong neurodivergent condition that is a part of who you are, and we can help you come to grips with the struggle of the revelation of the diagnosis. If you’re dealing with autism at any age, make an appointment with Dr. Venkatesh and his team at Kingwood Psychiatry today to get treated.