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ASD is a spectrum disorder. The symptoms can vary from person to person and from mild to severe. There are no diagnostic tests to find out whether a patient has ASD. The doctors and health professionals diagnose ASD based on behavioral actions and level of skills. Each person experiences ASD symptoms differently, thus making it difficult to diagnose ASD in adults.

Most doctors are familiar with autistic symptoms exhibited by children. However, they do not have much information on how adults show ASD traits. 

A person with ASD usually exhibits symptoms in three areas:

  • Social-interactions
  • Communication-Verbal and nonverbal
  • Behaviors- Repetitive or ritualistic

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) occurs in all ages and socioeconomic populations. It can make daily life difficult for the person and increase dependence on others. People need appropriate support and therapies to minimize the symptoms and maximize the comforts.

Autism spectrum disorder is often diagnosed in young children due to the regular attention of parents to their children. However, autistic adults may sometimes go undiagnosed.  

Here we will find the symptoms, causes, treatment, and other aspects of autism associated with adults.

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults

If an adult who doesn’t need much support to perform daily life functions but shows under-mentioned symptoms may be one with ASD.

The symptoms of autism shown in different aspects of daily life and behaviors by adults are:

Social communication behaviors of adults with ASD

  • Trouble in understanding social cues.
  • Find participation in conversation difficult
  • Inability reading body language and understanding facial expressions
  • Use of monotone or robotic speaking patterns
  • Use of self-made descriptive words and phrases
  • Fail to gaze into the eyes of others when talking to them
  • Speak only on selected topics and participate in the restricted range of activities
  • Lack of interest in developing a friendship

Restrictive and repetitive behaviors exhibited by adults with autism

  • Strict consistency to daily routines and environments; aggressive behavior to new schedules.
  • Show repetitive behaviors and rituals
  • Inability to understand the feelings and emotions of others and difficulty in regulating feelings
  • Emotional meltdown when something unexpected happens
  • Getting upset or feeling agitated when things are moved or rearranged

Other signs in adults with autism

  • Successful and knowledgeable in some academic subjects while finding difficulty in others.
  • Exceptional in a few areas of interest like arts, historical period, films, etc.
  • Show sensitivity to sensory input like pain, sound, touch, or smell
  • Clumsy or face difficulty with coordination
  • work and play in isolation rather than with others
  • Ability to learn complex details and retain things in memory for long periods
  • Capacity to learn visually or by listening

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a life-long condition and not a disease. Early diagnosis and use of interventions and therapies can make a tremendous difference.

About 40 percent of people with ASD have average or above-average intelligence. Some people may exhibit exceptional talents in visual skills, music, math, or art.

Adults Adapting Autism

The following information about autism spectrum disorder will help you understand the characteristics and symptoms of adults with ASD. Some adults may have developed ASD but are not diagnosed with ASD. The reasons could be:

  • People fail to notice the symptoms and characteristics of ASD
  • People around adults with ASD are not familiar with the signs or characteristics of autism
  • The ASD characteristics do not significantly impact the individual or limit everyday functioning.
  • The adult has learned to support the challenges and camouflaging signs
  • The fear of the financial and emotional cost of the diagnosis
  • The person does not want a diagnosis, and the benefits offered by the therapies

Many adults, who demonstrate the symptoms and behaviors of ASD, are not diagnosed. These adults learn to cope with living well and often develop meaningful relationships and build careers.

However, many adults not formally diagnosed with ASD may find life hard and struggle in some areas. Observing everyone else different might impact their mental and physical health. It is crucial to get the diagnosis for ASD once you notice any of the discussed symptoms in adults.

Diagnosis of autism in adults

There are no criteria for diagnosing ASD, particularly in adults. However, DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) guidelines are adapted to determine ASD in adults. DSM is a reference guide to diagnosing, identifying, and classifying mental health conditions.

For diagnosing adults with ASD, clinicians primarily do it through personal interactions and a series of in-person observations. They consider all the symptoms the person experiences.

Common Misdiagnosed Symptoms of Autism in Adults

It is a fact that autism spectrum disorder carries on into adulthood. A few doctors know how to recognize and diagnose autistic symptoms in adults and childrens

Below are some of the most common warning signs and the other conditions mistakenly attributed to different disorders.

  • Sometimes people link the difficulty in social interactions to shyness. Lack of social interaction is a hallmark symptom of ASD.
  • To attribute communication problems verbal and non-verbal and difficulty with self-expression as a language-based learning disability.
  • People with autism have narrow food choices. People may attribute this habit to an eating disorder.
  • The person with ASD faces challenges relating to other people’s feelings and finds it difficult to see things from another person’s perspective. Parents sometimes misconstrue this as a personality disorder.
  • To relate repetitive or ritualistic behaviors to obsessive-compulsive disorder. When a person with ASD acts like this in public, people consider him eccentric and schizophrenic.
  • The struggle to manage emotions, sudden outbursts of anger, or becoming withdrawn when overwhelmed might be seen as neuroticism or a mental illness.
  • To keep socially withdrawn, preferring solitude, and lack of social interactions are considered mood disorders.
  • Hypersensitivity is seen as a processing disorder in people with ASD as a sensory processing disorder.
  • To consider aggressive, tense, or irritable mood during transitions or a change in routine as a generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) and ASD share several symptoms. Sometimes people treat individuals with ASD suffering from ADHD.

These misdiagnoses are due to unfamiliarity with the signs and symptoms of autism in adults. It usually happens with those adults who were not diagnosed with ASD in childhood.

Coping Strategies for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

No person is immune to disruptions and changes. The change in routines and expectations are damaging to adults with autism spectrum. These changes often lead to insurmountable anxiety. Throughout the autism spectrum, the support and care of adults from family members are critical to normalizing the transition from established routines to new ones, irrespective of the environment.

People should explore strength-enabling strategies for autistic adults to keep them in touch with others. It will improve self-regulation. The autistic adult will try to alternate ways to meet needs and achieve goals.


The growth in the percentage of autism spectrum disorder people is primarily due to an increase in the awareness of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is substantial growth in autism tests and diagnosis due to awareness amongst people and a shift in the public understanding of ASD. People recognize that even late in life, the diagnosis of ASD can offer considerable benefits and relief.

However, some signs of autism spectrum disorder are often associated with other medical conditions. Whenever you notice any developmental or behavioral problem in adults listed here, the best option is to consult the doctor. The intervention therapies and treatment must start for the person with ASD to minimize the discomforts to improve the quality of life.