Spotting Autism in Adults – Common Signs and Traits of Autistic Adults
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. Although it's typically diagnosed in childhood, many adults are still undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. A recent study conducted in the United States found that one in 45 adults has autism, and most of them are undiagnosed. This can be problematic because individuals who go undiagnosed miss out on proper support and treatment, which can cause complications in their daily life.
In this article, we'll explore the common signs and traits of autism in adults and how to spot them. We'll be using the insights and experiences shared by Orion Kelly, an autistic person known as That Autistic Guy, who has dedicated his platform to raising awareness and understanding about autism.
Difficulty with Social Interactions and Communication
One of the most common traits of autism is difficulty with social interactions and communication. Autistic individuals may have trouble understanding social cues, engaging in small talk, and maintaining eye contact. They may find it difficult to interpret the tone of voice, body language, or facial expressions, which can cause misunderstandings or misinterpretations. As a result, social interactions can be uncomfortable or challenging for them.
According to Orion Kelly, “Many autistic people have difficulty with things like small talk, so they may come across as socially awkward or disinterested.” Autistic individuals may also struggle to initiate and maintain conversations or understand the appropriate level of personal disclosure in social situations. This can create a significant barrier to making and maintaining friendships, romantic relationships, and professional connections.
In addition to social communication, autistic individuals may also have difficulty with verbal communication. This can include problems with expressive language (the ability to express thoughts and feelings), receptive language (the ability to understand language), and nonverbal communication. For instance, they may take things literally or have trouble understanding sarcasm or jokes. They may also struggle to use body language, tone of voice, or facial expressions to convey emotions or meaning.
Many autistic individuals also have sensory sensitivities, which means they may be more sensitive to certain stimuli than others. For instance, some may be sensitive to loud noises, bright lights, specific textures, or smells. These sensitivities can cause discomfort or distress and make it challenging to function in everyday situations.
Orion Kelly notes, “Some autistic people may experience sensory overload in situations that most people wouldn't even think about.” This can make it hard for them to concentrate, remain calm, or complete tasks, leading to frustration and anxiety.
Importance of Routine and Predictability
Autistic individuals often rely on routine and predictability to feel comfortable and secure. They may follow specific routines every day, and any deviation from these routines can be distressing. They may also prefer to have things done in a particular way or order, and changes in these patterns can cause anxiety and stress.
Orion Kelly says, “Many autistic people have a strong need for routine and structure,” which can extend to their work and personal lives. This need for routine can make them rigid in their thinking and less adaptable to change, which can create difficulties in adjusting to new situations or environments.
Specific Interests and Hobbies
Autistic individuals often have specific interests and hobbies that they're passionate about. They may be highly knowledgeable about their chosen topics and may spend a lot of time learning and researching them. They may also have great attention to detail and be very skilled in their chosen areas of interest. These interests can range from a variety of topics, such as animals, history, science, art, and more.
According to Orion Kelly, “Autistic people tend to have intense interests that they are very passionate about.” These interests can be a source of joy and fulfillment for them and can help them connect with others who share similar interests. However, these interests can also become all-consuming and interfere with their daily life and responsibilities.
While the above traits and characteristics are commonly associated with autism, it's important to recognize that each individual with autism is unique and may experience these traits differently. Some individuals may have more pronounced difficulties with social communication, while others may have a greater sensitivity to sensory stimuli. Some individuals may also have additional mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD, which can further complicate their experiences.
It's also important to note that autism can present differently in men and women. Women with autism may be better at masking their symptoms, making it more challenging to diagnose them. They may also have different interests and social patterns, leading to a different presentation of autism.
How to Spot Autism in Adults
Now that we've explored the common signs and traits of autism in adults, how can we spot them? It's important to recognize that autism presents differently in each individual, and not all individuals with autism will exhibit all the signs and traits discussed above.
However, if you notice some of the common signs and traits in yourself or a loved one, it may be worth seeking a professional evaluation. A diagnosis of autism can provide access to support and resources that can help individuals with autism better navigate their daily lives.
It's also important to approach the diagnosis of autism with empathy and understanding. Autism isn't a negative thing, and individuals with autism can lead happy and fulfilling lives. However, they may need support and accommodations to help them overcome the challenges they face.
Here are some key points to look for when spotting autism in adults:
- Difficulty with social interactions and communication
- Sensory sensitivities
- Need for routine and predictability
- Specific interests and hobbies
- Unique experiences
It's essential to approach autism diagnosis with empathy and understanding, recognizing that individuals with autism can lead happy and fulfilling lives with the appropriate support and accommodations.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. While it's commonly diagnosed in childhood, many adults remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Autistic individuals may experience difficulties with social communication and sensory sensitivities, rely on routine and predictability, have specific interests and hobbies, and have unique experiences.
If you notice some of the common signs and traits of autism in yourself or a loved one, it may be worth seeking a professional evaluation. A diagnosis of autism can provide access to support and resources that can help individuals with autism better navigate their daily lives. It's also crucial to approach the diagnosis of autism with empathy and understanding, recognizing that individuals with autism can lead happy and fulfilling lives with the appropriate support and accommodations.
Autism is a unique and complex condition, and each individual's experience is different. While spotting autism in adults may be challenging, it's essential to approach the diagnosis with empathy and understanding to provide individuals with the support and accommodations they need.