Have you come across an adult who doesn’t make eye contact? Or someone who is brilliant in a field but is completely aloof when it comes to social interactions? Well, such adults may be autistic. However, we do know that autism is usually diagnosed in children but there are adults too who can be suffering from it. Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder(ASD) is characterized by a broad range of social and communication difficulties along with repetitive behavior. Decreased social skills, difficulty making and maintaining eye contact are some of the early symptoms of ASD. The condition is readily identified in children, however, screening for such behavioral issues have gained popularity only in recent times. Earlier such kids were just termed as ‘difficult’ and no medical intervention was sought. However such kids have now become adults and are identified as adults with undiagnosed ASD or as those with high-functioning autism.
It is possible for autism to be detected among adults of all ages, race, gender and socioeconomic groups. Symptoms of autism manifest in three broad ways- social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication as well as repetitive behavior. Regardless of severity or manifestation, ASD has a significant impact on the day to day functioning of an individual.
It is not completely possible to cure autism, but with proper intervention and support, they can be trained to manage life and its various facets. Counselling as well as training them with definite skills and coping strategies can help them understand and manage behavioral responses.
Screening and diagnosing autism in adults
Every person on the autistic spectrum exhibits different characteristics. Even the intensity of these symptoms may differ. The absence of an established procedure to diagnose ASD in adults adds to the issue. For screening and diagnosing here is a broad list of conditions:
- Difficulty understanding and managing high-level language skills. This can include verbal reasoning, problem-solving skills, making deductions and predictions.
- Difficulty in understanding social cues, body language and facial expressions.
- Difficulty initiating and maintaining a social conversation. A person with Autism may prefer monologues on a favourite topic.
- A tendency to prefer routine and repetitive actions. They may get agitated or anxious if there is any deviation.
- Difficulty understanding another person’s point of view and regulating own emotions
- Deep understanding and knowledge of a particular topic.
If you suspect yourself or an adult in your family to be on the Autistic spectrum, it is advisable to approach your primary care physician or a psychologist for diagnosis. There are some easily available self-assessment tests that can help you determine the autistic spectrum you fall into. However, these are not absolute or correct indicators and should be used only as a referral point for your doctor.