Adult Autism

March 29, 2024

As a child I never thought about Autism. I didn’t know what it was.  As a I became an adult it never hit my radar.  I hate to say it, but it was something that I just never had to think about. In my 20s I had a nephew who was diagnosed with Aspergers, but back in the 90s Aspergers was separate from autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It was not until 2013 that Aspergers was folded in the broader ASD diagnosis.

Even when he was little, I still didn’t think much about ASD or Aspergers. I just knew that my little nephew needed certain things, like headphones in loud places because the noise bothered him. Or that he had the uncanny ability to absolutely tell it how he saw it. Like at Christmas when he would get a toy that he liked he would just walk away and leave the rest of the gifts. If he didn’t like a gift you gave him, he would hand it back and politely say “no thank you”. He would not receive his diagnosis until he was around 6 years old. I just figured he was a different little dude and loved him where he was at. So that was that.

My knowledge and awareness did not change much until I met Erin, my wife. In the beginning it was difficult sometimes to communicate with each other. Sometimes it would take a long time to understand and process though emotions. When we would go out to an events, she would be uncomfortable. She would often tell me that she felt awkward in social gatherings. All of this was hard for me because I didn’t understand. After all, we met at karaoke and I was communicating as clearly as I knew how.

We went on like this until one day Erin decided to take a test online/assessment. She had begun to wonder if she was on the spectrum because of what I mentioned before. She found one called Ritvo & Asperger Diagnostic Scale or RAADS. When she got the results she told me she was going to talk to someone about it and see if in fact she was on the spectrum. She did, and it changed our lives.

We now had key information as to what, how and why Erin needs what she needs. Together we learned new ways of communicating so it was not tough. We set up our environment so it’s not so harsh. As an example, we have softer lighting in our house now. Erin learning that she is on the spectrum opened so many doors for her to understand herself better. Before this she struggled to not feel ashamed or weird. And I have learned how to be a better more supportive partner and wife.

I know I am not the only one out here who did not know anything about ASD.

In recent years, there has been growing recognition and understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adults. While much attention has historically been focused on children with autism, it’s essential to recognize that autism is a lifelong condition that continues to impact individuals into adulthood. As awareness expands, so does the need for support, acceptance, and resources tailored to the unique needs of adults on the spectrum.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by challenges in social communication and interaction, as well as restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. While these traits may manifest differently from person to person, they can present significant challenges in various aspects of adult life, including education, employment, relationships, and daily living.

One of the most pressing issues facing adults with autism is access to appropriate support services and accommodations. Unlike children, who may receive interventions through school-based programs, adults often find themselves navigating a complex and fragmented system with limited resources. Many adults on the spectrum struggle to access healthcare, mental health services, vocational training, and housing assistance tailored to their needs.

Employment is another area where adults with autism face significant challenges. Despite often possessing valuable skills and talents, many individuals on the spectrum struggle to find and maintain employment due to difficulties with social interaction, sensory sensitivities, and executive functioning. According to some estimates, the unemployment rate among adults with autism is significantly higher than the general population, highlighting the need for more inclusive and supportive workplaces.

Social relationships and community integration are also areas of concern for adults with autism. Difficulty understanding social cues, navigating social situations, and forming meaningful connections can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. As a result, many adults on the spectrum may benefit from opportunities to connect with others who share similar experiences and interests, as well as from programs that provide social skills training and support.

Despite these challenges, it’s essential to recognize the strengths and contributions of adults with autism. Many individuals on the spectrum possess unique talents, skills, and perspectives that can enrich our communities and workplaces. By fostering inclusivity, understanding, and acceptance, we can create environments where adults with autism can thrive and fulfill their potential.

As we continue to learn more about autism and its impact on adults, there is a growing need for increased awareness, advocacy, and support. By listening to the voices of adults on the spectrum, investing in research and education, and promoting policies that prioritize inclusivity and accessibility, we can work towards a more inclusive society where all individuals, regardless of their neurodiversity, are valued and supported.

Adult autism is a complex and multifaceted issue that requires attention and action from individuals, communities, and policymakers alike. By raising awareness, fostering understanding, and advocating for the needs of adults on the spectrum, we can create a more inclusive and supportive society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

If you are someone who realizes you may have challenges, but you never received a diagnosis as a child, or you are having trouble with being able to access a formal assessment due to the expense because your insurance will not cover it,you can take one of the online assessments for free. Click the link and it will take you to a site with several different tests.

If you are looking for resources for you or someone you love or even like, The University of Washington Autism Center is a great place to start.

Author: Rochelle Hazard, Director of IDEA