The Centers for Disease Control found that adults with autism make up nearly 2% of the U.S. population as of 2020. There are unique challenges and programs that adults with ASD and their loved ones can benefit from learning about.
In this blog, we will answer the following questions:
- What does autism as an adult look like?
- What causes autism in adults?
- Can adults have autism and not know it?
- What do adults with autism struggle with?
- Does autism worsen with age?
- Are there programs that help adults with autism?
What Does Autism as an Adult Look Like?
Adults with autism tend to share a common set of traits. Signs of autism in adults can vary depending on the individual. One person may exhibit different symptoms than another.
It’s also important to note that autism is a spectrum. Symptoms of ASD in adults will be more or less severe depending on where an individual is on the spectrum.
Signs and Symptoms of Autism in Adults
- Avoiding eye contact
- Difficulty expressing own emotions and thoughts
- Difficulty understanding others’ emotions
- Feeling anxious in social situations
- Preferring to plan ahead
- Difficulty making friends and preferring to be alone
- Comes off as blunt or rude without meaning to
- Taking things literally, inability to understand sarcasm
- Highly interested in specific activities, topics, and objects
- Keeping to a strict routine and becoming upset if the routine is changed
- Inability to understand social norms or rules, such as not interrupting others
- Inability to understand body language and facial expressions of others
- Doesn’t understand personal space, getting too close to others, or becoming upset if others get too close to them
- Being hyper-aware of details, smells, sounds, or patterns
- Having repetitive behaviors such as repeating words or actions
What Causes Autism in Adults?
Autism develops before birth, and adults with autism will have had it their whole lives.
While the cause of autism continues to be unknown, scientists and medical health professionals have found some connections through research. It’s common for autism development to be present among family members, which may suggest some genetic indicators.
Again, this is only speculation, and there’s no clear evidence of autism being a genetic disorder. Along with this, autism is not caused by other misconceptions, such as:
- Lifestyle or diet
- Abuse, neglect, or bad parenting
- Contagious infection or disease
- Behavioral or mental health conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or chronic depression
- Temporary childhood conditions
Can Adults Have Autism and Not Know it?
Yes, whether they never had an autism diagnosis or symptoms went unnoticed, adults can have autism and be unaware of it. Unfortunately, not addressing autism can lead to added struggles in life that treatment could help with.
An adult with autism may have difficulty communicating, leading to social isolation. However, therapy and treatment can help improve communication skills.
What do Adults with Autism Struggle with?
Autism isn’t a burden but a different way of thinking and understanding the world around them. Due to this, individuals with autism will deal with unique struggles and have to overcome battles neurotypical individuals may not.
Social and Communication Skills
Adults with autism tend to struggle with social cues, communicating and interacting with others, and building relationships. This can make it challenging to create and maintain friendships, have healthy relationships, and date.
Adults with autism are by no means “less” intelligent than neurotypical individuals. Instead, their cognitive abilities can make mainstream instructions and education challenging to follow.
Individuals on the autism spectrum may need an individualized educational plan (IEP) or alternative forms of learning as they grow up.
Again, autism is a spectrum, and some individuals may be perfectly capable of living independently without too many concerns. But for many, independence is a journey. Daily life skills and knowledge can help build an individual’s confidence in being independent and maintaining a safe and productive environment.
Mental Health Struggles
Individuals with ASD can be especially prone to mental health problems such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Likewise, the unique challenges of living with ASD can sometimes leave some feeling depressed or frustrated. Many resources and compassionate healthcare professionals are available to people dealing with these struggles, regardless of any existing disabilities or disorders.
Does Autism Worsen with Age?
Autism itself does not worsen with age. That said, external circumstances and environments can harm autism traits. For example, struggling with stressors like finding a job or reaching goals can bring out ASD symptoms like anxiety or isolation.
Even with this information, individuals with ASD shouldn’t feel discouraged. Many programs and services are available to combat their challenges and gain new skills to meet their goals.
Are There Programs That Help Adults with Autism?
Yes, autism is a highly researched disorder that passionate professionals have put time and effort into understanding. Individualized programs offer support in various areas of life and help obtain the necessary assistance.
Roman Empire uses a science-based technique called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to help individuals with ASD develop desired behaviors. ABA involves creating assessments and treatment plans to achieve specific goals. The meaningful and positive changes that ABA fosters can improve learning abilities and communication skills through increased focus and attention.
The ABA Program at Roman Empire Agency provides and promotes the following:
- Communication skills
- Community Training
- Functional Pre-Academics
- Functional Academics
- Home Living Skills
- Health and Safety
- Leisure Skills
- Self Care Skills
- Social Skills
- Motor Skills
- Work Skills