Many adults who were undiagnosed until later in life have often reported that they were first diagnosed with other mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Receiving the proper autism diagnosis as an adult helped them develop a greater sense of identity and acceptance of themselves.
Autism is a developmental condition that researchers believe occur sometime during gestation and signs can usually be observed by 2 or 3 years of age. Autism is a type of neurodivergence, which is really about how the brain is organized and how it processes information. It can affect a person’s way of relating to others, including the way they speak and communicate, and with different types of behavior they may display. It is not the same thing as social awkwardness or giftedness and it does not affect a person’s level of intelligence or intellect.
Autism is defined by the DSM-5 as:
In childhood, some people with high functioning autism may have been successful in their academics and perhaps in spoken language as well due to high intelligence. This may have led teachers and parents to not suspect autism since they may have appeared studious, focused, and diligent. For others, they have been misdiagnosed with an intellectual disability or sometimes attention deficit disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or social anxiety disorder. Although it’s possible for autism to go undiagnosed until adulthood, for a diagnosis to be met, symptoms need to have been present in childhood development.
During an evaluation, the specialist will take a comprehensive look at your history including early development and milestones. They may administer a number of assessments and questionnaires that are designed to assess for autistic traits. The specialist is really looking at the big picture, and putting together bits and pieces of your whole history and functioning. Here at Aspire Neuropsychological Services, we offer neuropsychological evaluations.
If this article resonates with you, or if you are an adult who would like more support with your Autism diagnosis, contact our clinical team today. We would be pleased to connect you with the right member of our clinical team.