Autism isn’t a “fixed” condition; it’s a spectrum. Every autistic person will have their own strengths and weaknesses associated with the disability.
In this blog, we’ll look at the following:
- What Do Autistic Adults Struggle With?
- How Do You Know If An Autistic Person Is Shutting Down?
- What Calms Autistic Adults?
- What Triggers Autism Meltdowns?
- Do Autism Meltdowns Improve With Age?
- What Help Do Autistic Adults Get?
- Treatment Options For Autistic Adults
What Do Autistic Adults Struggle With?
Some people with autism may have more significant challenges than others in different areas of development. For example, one autistic person may require more support in language skills than another.
It comes down to the individual, but there are several common barriers that adults with autism are often faced with, including:
- Understanding other peoples’ thoughts or feelings
- Expressing emotions or communicating effectively
- Making friends or maintaining relationships
- Unproductive or harmful stimming
- Emotional regulation
- Sensory input issues
- Executive functioning
Even though autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is typically associated with the above challenges, autistic people are fully capable of growing beyond their developmental delays with the right treatments and dedication.
How Do You Know If An Autistic Person Is Shutting Down?
Typically, an autistic person going through a shutdown will stop responding to communication. They may lay down on the floor or physically leave the space, like retreating to their bedroom. In some cases, they may be unable to leave the space they’re in, which may lead to freezing up and becoming unresponsive.
What Calms Autistic Adults?
Some of the most common calming methods for autistic adults (and neurotypical individuals) include taking deep breaths, listening to calming music, using a stress ball or fidget toy, and going for walks.
What Triggers Autism Meltdowns?
Unlike autistic shutdowns, which tend to be less noticeable, an autistic meltdown is usually accompanied by crying, yelling, throwing items, lashing out, harmful stimming, and tantrums. A meltdown isn’t always verbal, and an individual may be unable to speak. Several factors can trigger an autistic meltdown:
- Sensory overload (lights, sounds, smells, textures)
- Built-up stress
- Social interactions
Do Autism Meltdowns Improve With Age?
It’s common for meltdowns in autistic individuals to improve with age as they become more integrated into society and mature. Long-term studies suggest that about ten percent of autistic children show dramatic improvement in their overall symptoms. This isn’t always the case, though, and autistic children and adults must receive the right treatments to help with their behavioral challenges.
What Help Do Autistic Adults Get?
In some cases, adults with ASD can receive support with health insurance, housing, job training, and job placement. Likewise, if a person qualifies for disability, they can access Social Security benefits for financial aid.
Treatment Options For Autistic Adults
As education around autism grows and the condition continues to gain a more significant societal presence, more resources have become available for support. Several types of treatments are available for autistic adults to aid in learning and development. Below, we’ll look at primary treatments, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), exercise, and medication.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment that both neurodivergent and neurotypical people can utilize. It helps with a range of psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, bipolar, and addiction. It’s common for autistic adults, especially those who didn’t receive proper treatment in childhood, to deal with feelings of isolation, which can conjure mental health problems. CBT is an effective treatment to target these psychological challenges and increase a person’s quality of life.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is among the most popular treatments for autism. It focuses on altering challenging behaviors through positive reinforcement to enhance safer, more fulfilling living. Certain repetitive behaviors, emotional reactions, and coping mechanisms can do more harm than good, which is why it is best to seek professional intervention. Along with reducing behaviors that may be harmful, ABA also helps individuals develop critical self-management and social skills that aid in personal, academic, and professional development.
Regardless of whether a person is neurodivergent or neurotypical, exercise is an essential element that everyone should be incorporating into their lives. Exercise helps manage stress and weight, reduces disease risk, improves brain health, and strengthens muscles and bones. People who work out four to seven times a week are reportedly much happier. Along with a healthy diet and good sleep, exercise can set the baseline for better mental and physical health, which boosts every other area of a person’s life.
In some cases, individuals diagnosed with autism may require medication to help with physical, mental, and emotional challenges. For example, if an autistic person struggles with concentration or even has a co-existing ADHD diagnosis, medication can be utilized to increase focus.
There’s also a surplus of mental health medications that exist to improve depression and anxiety symptoms, which are common in autistic people. If you or your family members are considering medication, your healthcare professional can help navigate your options and steps to gaining a prescription.
Along with these primary forms of treatment, people with an autism diagnosis may also benefit from the following:
- Support groups
- Independent Living Skills Trainings
- Supported Living Services
- Adaptive Skills Training
- SSI/Medical/Medicare Assistance
- Speech and Feeding Therapy
- Vocational Rehabilitation