Disorders

Undiagnosed autism in adulthood

Ritika Dhaliwal

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) include all the disorders which affect one’s ability to communicate, understand language, and develop social skills. Autism is generally spoken about in the context of children. The symptoms of autism can be identified at the age of 12 months but is usually formally diagnosed only at the age of three. Autism affects about 1 in 500 people in India and is more common than Down syndrome.

Autism manifests in different degrees – mild, moderate and severe. In some cases, if the symptoms are very mild, they may sometimes go undiagnosed. These symptoms may then cause problems in social interaction later in life.

Following are some symptoms present in adults who have not been diagnosed in childhood.

  • Relationship problems: People with autism prefer to stay aloof and do not have the ability to form strong relationships. One reason is their inability to understand non-verbal cues and inability to communicate emotions. They may not have strong friendships and romantic relationships.

  • Behavior and language: Adults with autism characteristically have repetitive behavior and language that others around might perceive as odd. They tend to repeat their words and sentences.. Behaviorally, they might have repetitive movements like rocking on a chair or flapping of the hand.

  • Attention problems: Adults on the ASD have a very short attention span. They have problems sustaining attention on one task and forget things quickly.

  • Processing of emotions: They have huge problems in empathizing with others because they aren’t able to understand emotions and may have difficulty in relating to them.

  • Difficulty adapting to changes: Adults with autism have difficulty adapting to change. They get anxious and distressed even if there is a small change in their normal routine.

  • Verbal problems: They have problems in both communicating as well as in understanding others. They are not skilled at understanding non-verbal cues and their interpersonal relationships suffer as a result.

If you or anyone you know exhibits these symptoms, it is best to refer them to a specialist. Though autism is primarily a childhood disorder, when left undiagnosed in the early years, it can cause problems later in life.

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