Identifying Autism in Adults

The autism spectrum is broad, varying features that are sometimes difficult to recognize on the surface. Some adults may have lived their lives without a full awareness that some of the barriers and struggles they have faced are a result of undiagnosed autism. Reports include those who have been stunned by the direct question, “When were you diagnosed with autism?” Other reports specify experiencing difficulty understanding social interactions, difficulty with tolerating textures, changes in routines, and being genuinely dumbfounded by other people’s seemingly insensitive perspectives and behavior. Those reporting range in ages from 20 to 64 years old.

At Autism Connection of PA, Chrisoula manages hundreds of calls, emails, and website contact entries each month. She offers suggestions to adults who want to identify the signs of adult autism, getting diagnosis, and finding support and resources.

-TLM


Identifying Signs of Autism in Adults

While autism is commonly associated with childhood, it is crucial to acknowledge that many people may remain undiagnosed until later in life. Some prevalent signs and characteristics that may indicate autism in adults include:

  1. Social Communication Differences: Difficulty comprehending and utilizing nonverbal cues, challenges in sustaining conversations, and struggles with recognizing and expressing emotions
  2. Sensory Sensitivities: Heightened sensitivity or aversion to specific sounds, sights, textures, tastes, or smells
  3. Special Interests and Routines: Intense focus and extensive knowledge in particular areas of interest, accompanied by a preference for routines and consistency
  4. Executive Functioning Challenges: Difficulties with organization, time management, planning, and flexible thinking
  5. Social Interaction Difficulties: Feeling overwhelmed in social situations, experiencing difficulties in establishing and maintaining friendships, and struggling to grasp social nuances

Pursuing a Diagnosis

If you suspect that you may have autism or exhibit some of the aforementioned signs, it is important to seek a formal diagnosis. Here are the steps you can take:

  1. Educate Yourself: Acquire knowledge about autism in adults and familiarize yourself with the diagnostic process. Learn about common traits and characteristics associated with autism. Weekly e-news covers a range of topics. 
  2. Consult Professionals: Reach out to healthcare providers, psychologists, or diagnosticians who specialize in assessing autism in adults. They can guide you through the evaluation process.
  3. Diagnostic Assessment: The assessment typically involves interviews, questionnaires, and observations to evaluate your social, communication, and behavioral patterns. The goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of your experiences and determine whether autism is an appropriate diagnosis.

Support and Resources

Following a diagnosis, people with autism can access various forms of support to enhance their well-being and quality of life. Here are some beneficial resources:

  1. Therapy and Counseling: Engage in individual or group therapy sessions with professionals experienced in working with adults on the autism spectrum. Therapy can focus on developing social skills, regulating emotions, and addressing specific challenges.
  2. Skill Development Programs: Seek out programs that offer training in areas such as executive functioning, communication, and social skills, tailored to the specific needs of adults with autism.
  3. Support Groups and Communities: Connect with local or online support groups where you can meet others who share similar experiences. These groups provide opportunities to share insights, receive emotional support, and connect with others on a similar journey. We offer several support groups for you to join!

Recognizing signs of autism in adulthood, pursuing a diagnosis, and accessing support are crucial steps toward understanding oneself and navigating life with autism. By staying informed, seeking professional guidance, and utilizing appropriate resources, autistic people can embark on a path of self-acceptance, growth, and fulfillment. Remember, Autism Connection of Pennsylvania is here to support you every step of the way.

–Chrisoula Perdziola, Resource Specialist

[email protected]


How to Avoid Medication Mishaps

Carol Miller, RN/BSN, Director of Clinical Services at Achieva and Missy Knox, RN will talk about avoiding medication mishaps.

The presentation will:

  • Review questions to ask when starting a new medication
  • How to form good medication habits,
  • Medication storage, packaging, and disposal options
  • How to identify and react to medication emergencies

They will also briefly touch on genetic testing and how this may influence your medications, and there will be time for questions after the presentation.

This is a free virtual workshop, but registration is required. Register here.


2023 Color Park Refresh Public Paint

Friends of the Riverfront’s 2023 Color Park Refresh Public Paint is happening April 29th. We can’t wait to join our friends in this colorful event. All are welcome to participate in the public refresh of the Color Park from 11am-2pm. Community members will create new base colors and designs while enjoying snacks and music.
4th Street Trailhead
17 Great Allegheny Passage
Pittsburgh PA, 15203


Volunteer Appreciation Week 2023

Volunteers! Where would we be without you?
Your contributions of time, energy, and expertise have helped us in so many ways. From organizing events, providing support to families, raising awareness, and fundraising, you have been there for us every step of the way. Your hard work and dedication have enabled us to reach out to more people and provide them with the resources and support they need.

Photos of volunteers at events, fundraisers, and sensory friendly performances.
Your generosity and kindness have touched the hearts of many families in our community. Your willingness to lend a helping hand and be a source of comfort and support to those in need is truly remarkable. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed, and we are forever grateful for everything that you do.


You Can’t Accomplish Just Anything You Want

Thanks to our great support network we were able to do a quick turnaround and prevent the likely loss of a career for someone who recently reached out to us for help. We were so grateful for all the forces that combined and allowed us to be our mission of “a lifeline of support.”   

M. had been “in love” with a young person they met over ten years ago. While they never had an in-person dating relationship, a heart was captured and imagination took over. Sending poems, emails, texts, flowers, candy, and more, can be lovely gestures when welcomed, but wound up being scary and threatening to the love interest who did not welcome them. Finally, a protective order was filed in an out of state court. The first order covered 24 hours, the second, two weeks, and three business days following our first call with the accused, the court would hear and see evidence to produce a two-year Protective Order which would have cost our new client their job.

Hearing someone so distraught, tearful, hopeless, and being baffled by this turn of events kicked us into high gear. This college educated professional was stuck in emotions and had no idea what to do, nor if they needed to appear in court despite simple court paperwork clearly stating they needed to attend in person. There was no plan, no lawyer, no defense strategy, and only three days plus a weekend to work with. Fortunately, this person immediately reached out to and signed up with both referrals we provided, one being a defense attorney licensed in the state of the proceedings, and the other, a therapist who provides services for those in the justice system. We owe a debt of gratitude to board trustee Tiffany Sizemore who provided the out of state referral, and to Shawn McGill who immediately took the call and offered his professional help.

The judge heard both sides of the case in great detail on the day of proceedings, taking autism into consideration but not focusing on it. And much to the surprise of most involved, including the defendant’s attorney, the judge did not place our client under a Protective Order because he did not hear criminal intent nor malice, and believed the testimony that they were moving on permanently and would never contact the plaintiff again.

We talked that night after it was all over, and I asked a question I have often thought about. “What rules did you follow that you learned growing up as a kid that may have led to trouble in this situation?” And right off the bat the answer was “Follow your heart. And if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything!”  

make your words count

Now, that last one is not true for any one of us! And while we routinely use phrases like these, they can lead some to overly apply them very literally and not know when to change course. Positivity is sometimes helpful but it can become toxic. So please consider the individual when you use encouraging words. We were lucky in timing and that we know the best network of helpers, but this was such a close brush with disaster that the client wanted us to teach with this story. In their own words spoken the night after things cleared up, “I just want to give presents to everybody who helped me. And I am a first grader in terms of dating – I was in love with a mirage!  I ‘m definitely going to do the counseling too. But overall I want to tell this story and help make sure this never happens to anyone else, ever again!”


Introduction to Autism

Getting any new diagnosis comes with the need to understand it. Learn the basics about autism, and get some take-home tips, from people who understand and have worked in this field for 20+ years.

We will explain the details about autism and how brain differences help shape personality, likes, dislikes, fears, eating, sleeping, the senses, and communication. Please come and ask your questions, meet others with similar concerns and learn what to do at home and in the community!

This is a free workshop, but registration is required.