Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a group of developmental conditions that can have an impact on many different aspects of life – from communication to sensory issues to a need for a routine. ASD is typically diagnosed in childhood, but it can often be missed or left unrecognised as signs vary from person to person. Due to the spectrum of ASD being so vast, it can feel confusing as to whether one might be experiencing signs and symptoms of ASD or whether they are signs of something else. In addition, when considering a diagnosis as an adult, many might not understand why or how a diagnosis might be helpful, as they have progressed so far in life without one.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of getting an adult ASD diagnosis, and how it can get you access to support, services and adjustments that will allow you to gain a better understanding of yourself and how you see and experience the world.
Although in some cases ASD symptoms are missed in childhood, the neurodevelopmental condition persists into adulthood. Some adults might notice certain differences between themselves and neurotypical peers that indicate the presence of ASD.
Information about ASD is much more accessible now than it has ever been, across traditional platforms as well as social media platforms. You can access information on individual accounts of ASD and understand how it might present differently from one person to another and also begin to identify which signs and symptoms you have noticed in yourself.
You or others might have had an inclination about these differences for a long time, but understanding them with the correct diagnosis can really help put into context why you experience certain difficulties, how to communicate your difficulties and needs to others and how to generally manage them better.
If any of these points really resonate with you, you might want to consider pursuing an adult ASD diagnosis.
One of the biggest benefits of confirming a diagnosis of any disorder, but particularly ASD, is that it makes it easier to access services, support and accommodations that are available. People with ASD can struggle with a wide variety of things at home or at work, but with a formal ASD diagnosis in place, you’ll be able to apply for the things you need in order to thrive. This might be speaking to your manager about accommodations that will enable you to manage better at work. Alternatively, you can access occupational health services through your GP that can provide you with equipment and devices that can help you manage with symptoms such as sensory overload. In addition, you can access specialist therapy to help support you with understanding and accepting your diagnosis, as well as managing mental health difficulties, such as anxiety, if you are experiencing those too.
Understanding your diagnosis can help you to put into context your experiences in the world and it can activate self-compassion and patience whilst you learn how to adjust and manage. For example, if you identify that you speak in a monotone and avoid eye contact because of your diagnosis, it might help reduce any anxieties or pressures you may have previously placed on yourself to change these behaviours. In addition, being able to communicate with others why you engage with these behaviours can provide a relief from the social pressure to conform.
Similarly, having a daily routine might be incredibly important for managing discomfort and anxiety that comes with uncertainty. Understanding that this symptom stems from ASD can highlight the importance of trying to maintain a routine and again, can help when communicating to others why a routine might help you manage day-to-day life better.
Living with autism means that sometimes, you need to do things differently. When you are able to manage your own environments and do what works for you, you’ll find that you’re able to manage better with ASD.
Going undiagnosed until adulthood can lead to years of feeling like you don’t fit in, and not truly understanding why. This can then start to bring up questions about who you are, and why you are the way that you are. Getting a diagnosis can give you a logical explanation for some of the challenges and difficulties you face, and perhaps even correct an earlier misdiagnosis. In some cases, people have been misdiagnosed with conditions such as ADHD or schizophrenia, perpetuating the feeling that they don’t quite fit in those groups either. Getting the right diagnosis can help you make better sense of where you fit, and for many, this can be quite relieving.
It won’t just help you understand your experiences – an adult ASD diagnosis can also help family, friends and even colleagues to understand how you see and interact with the world, and give them the opportunity to provide additional support for you.
While there are certainly plenty of benefits to getting a formal adult ASD diagnosis, you might decide that this isn’t something you want to pursue, at least for the moment. The process of getting a diagnosis can feel quite long, and will include varied forms of assessments. Some groups of the population may also find it harder to get a formal diagnosis than others; for example, differences in how women present compared to men can mean that women find it easier to ‘mask’ their symptoms, therefore, even as adults, their symptoms might get missed, leading to women being less likely to be diagnosed and being under represented in ASD statistics on prevalence.
If you decide that although you have noticed signs and symptoms of ASD, an assessment and diagnosis is not the best decision for you, then that is okay too. Unfortunately, this may mean you might not have access to support and accommodations. However, you may feel you don’t need these at the moment and are managing well without. Just be aware that this might make it more difficult to get access to additional support or accommodations.
If you’ve decided that you want to pursue a diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder, your next step is to arrange a ASD diagnostic assessment with an ASD specialist. During your autism assessment, you will be asked about the specific problems you are having and how you interact with other people. Following your diagnostic assessment, the specialist will be able to outline some next steps for treatment to improve your quality of life.
At Psymplicity Healthcare, we offer private diagnostic assessments for adult autism designed to help you understand your symptoms and move forward. If you’d like to find out more about our diagnostic service and support options, get in touch with us today.
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