It can be difficult to determine whether a person has autism or not without a proper diagnosis. Though there are common signs exhibited in many individuals on the spectrum, the symptoms are still quite varied depending on whether a person has high- or low-support needs. Understanding more about autism, the associated signs and symptoms, and how to self-assess can all help on the journey to getting a diagnosis and learning to cope with it. Brain Therapy TMS is here to guide people on said journey.
What Is Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopmental disorders. It affects how a person relates to their environment, how they communicate, and how they behave. A person with ASD may interact with others differently, have difficulty reading social cues, and be more sensitive to sensory stimuli. Sound and light can greatly interfere with their ability to cope. A spectrum disorder like this one affects people across a range of abilities and has a wide range of symptoms. Some will fall into the low-support needs category, others may require some support, and still, others will be on the farther end, requiring high support.
Difference Between High-Support Needs and Low-Support Needs
The level of support someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder needs can vary from low- to high support. Individuals with low support needs may be able to live independently and with minimal assistance. Individuals with high-support needs may require more assistance with daily activities and have difficulty with their care tasks. Then, some will fall somewhere in the middle, needing assistance with some tasks and being able to handle other activities independently.
Most Common Symptoms of Autism
The most common symptoms of autism include the following:
- Difficulty socializing
- Difficulty communicating
- Repetitive behaviors
- Difficulty adapting to change
Other signs of autism may include:
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Difficulty understanding emotions
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Unusual reactions to sensory stimuli
- Trouble interacting with and understanding others
The signs exhibited will entirely depend on which end of the spectrum a person is on. Those with low support needs may have minimal symptoms.
Less Common Signs
Some less common signs may or not be an indication of autism but could warrant a closer look:
- Unusual physical movements
- Narrowed interests in certain topics
- Difficulty sleeping
- A need for structure and routine
- Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights
- Difficulties with executive functioning
A good starting point for understanding if a person may have autism is to take an online autism quiz. There are a variety of free online autism screening tests available. Brain Therapy TMS offers an adult autism test that is helpful with self-assessment.
The test takes approximately seven minutes and asks questions related to how a person handles social situations and does things on one’s own. They also query whether someone is fascinated or hooked on a particular thing often. Individuals must select whether they definitely or slightly agree or definitely or slightly disagree with each statement.
The quiz may ask whether:
- A person prefers to do things on their own
- A person prefers to do the same things over and over
- It’s easy to envision a picture in their mind
- There is a fascination with dates or numbers
- A person is drawn to people more than things
- It’s difficult to make friends or handle idle chit-chat
There are approximately 50 questions on the test. After answering the questions honestly, each person should have a solid idea of whether they fall somewhere on the spectrum or not.
Professional Evaluation and Diagnosis
After experiencing signs and determining autism may be a factor through self-evaluation, it is best to seek out a professional diagnosis. Until a person has this, it can be difficult to gain access to resources and treatment plans.
A professional evaluation typically involves a complete medical history, physical exam, developmental evaluation, and psychological testing. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is used as a guide for recognizing and diagnosing autism spectrum disorders.
Once a diagnosis of autism is made, treatment options can include behavior therapy, social skills training, communication therapies, occupational therapy, and medication. Treatment plans are always individualized to meet each person’s precise needs and goals.
Autism in Kids
Autism is typically diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 6, although signs may be observed as early as 18 months. Early intervention can be beneficial for young children with autism. If a parent learns their child is on the autism spectrum, it is best to discuss the diagnosis in an easy-to-understand way. Parents should:
- Wait for their children to ask questions
- Use age-appropriate and cognitive-appropriate language
- Emphasize the positives of living on the spectrum
- Leem know they are not alone
- Let them know nothing is wrong with them and they are special in their own way
- Discuss how every individual on the autism spectrum is unique
Autism in Adults
Adults with autism may experience difficulty with social interactions and communication. It’s also possible to experience a wide range of emotions, including anxiety and depression. Adults with autism may also have difficulty with work or school, relationships, and daily activities, depending on which end of the spectrum they’re on. The right support and care are key in helping a person maintain their well-being and live a fulfilling life.
Finding support with a diagnosis of autism is essential. Support can come in the form of friends, family, professionals, and even online support groups. Connecting with individuals who have similar experiences can be invaluable in learning more about living with autism and having thoughts and feelings corroborated.
If you think you or someone you care about may have autism, it’s important to get a professional evaluation. Early intervention and treatment can be beneficial for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. Brain Therapy TMS offers comprehensive treatment and evaluation services to diagnose and treat autism. Our team of professionals can help you take the steps necessary to get a diagnosis and create a personalized treatment plan. Contact us today to learn more.