Many older adults have symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but remain undiagnosed. The reason…they reached adulthood before public and clinical awareness of ASD increased and before the current diagnostic criteria for ASD were formulated. Additionally, mild or high-functioning autism is particularly easy to overlook by loved ones and medical professionals alike, as symptoms are not always obvious and misdiagnoses are common.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of mild or high-functioning autism in adults. This autism checklist cannot be used to make a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, but may suggest the need to pursue a formal diagnosis from a professional who specialises in diagnosing autism in adults.
- Avoidance of Social Situations
- Restrictive or Intense Interests
- Alexithymia – difficulty in identifying and recognizing one’s own emotional state and the emotional states of others
- Chronic depression or anxiety
- Inappropriate eye contact
- Insistence on routines
It might be high-functioning adult autism…now what?
Consider taking the Autism Spectrum Quotient and Empathy Quotient tests. Both tests were developed by Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre. If scores on these tests indicate autistic traits, speak to a professional who specializes in ASD in Adults.
It's quite common for people to have gone through life without an autism diagnosis, feeling that somehow they don't quite fit in. Many people learn to cope with life in their own ways, although this can be hard work. They might be married or living with a partner, have families or successful careers. Others may be more isolated and find things much more of a struggle.
It is up to you whether you decide to seek a diagnosis and some people are happy to remain self-diagnosed. The only way to know for sure whether you are autistic is to get a formal diagnosis from a clinical psychologist.