Autism Treatment for Adults, Signs of High-Functioning Autism in Adults, Diagnosis of Autism in Adults, Types of Therapies for Autism
If you or your loved one has ASD or think that you have an undiagnosed ASD, then you need to reach out for professional help. Inpatient autism treatment for adults can become necessary.
By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: April 17, 2023
Autism treatment for adults
Even if you weren’t diagnosed with autism as a child, you might notice the symptoms of high-functioning autism in later life. Here’s what to look for and how to deal with a diagnosis.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life .
We all have our peculiarities and quirks. However, if you’ve noticed that your way of thinking, feeling, or doing things isn’t quite the norm, you may suspect that you have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), even though you never received a diagnosis as a child.
Maybe your body language, social skills, behaviors, or general preferences don’t correspond to those around you. Or perhaps you have a child recently diagnosed with autism, and you recognize some of the same issues in your way of behaving?
In recent years, more individuals are adopting the idea of neurodiversity—the idea that some individuals have neurological differences and those differences should be respected rather than “corrected.” Still, diagnosing autism as a grown-up can come as an unpleasant shock. You may even experience anxiety or denial over the diagnosis. On the other hand, if you’ve long doubted that you have ASD or some other condition that sets you separated from your peers, a diagnosis can come as solace. Unexpectedly, many of your past interactions and experiences make sense, and you’re given a sense of clarity.
The goal of treatment for adult autism is to help them live happy and fulfilled lives. Most adults with autism struggle because they have been misunderstood all their lives. Often, they don’t even understand themselves. “Why am I so clumsy?” Or “Why don’t I like to be with people, go shopping, or go to movies?” Or “Why is it so hard for me to stick with things?” Or “Why do I feel so sluggish and unmotivated?”
Understanding follows once autism treatment for adults is administered to address their sensory issues. With direct treatment for autism in adults, such as occupational or listening therapy, changes in how sensation is perceived occur. During autism treatment for adults, strategies can be identified for avoiding or decreasing the intensity of those relationships and situations that cause failure and lead to anxiety and depression. Sensory techniques for a home can be taught.
Signs of high-functioning autism in adults
Autism generally has many signs and symptoms, even if you narrow the scope to “high functioning” autism. Autism signs and symptoms in adults are most noticeable in your emotional and behavioral patterns, communication skills, interests, and sensitivity to stimuli like touch and noise.
Problems with communication
If you’re an adult with autism (ASD), you might have difficulty reading social signals. This can include everything from another person’s facial expressions to the tone of voice or gestures, making it hard to maintain back-and-forth discussions or tell what another individual is feeling. Sarcasm and figures of speech can be especially problematic to detect.In addition, you might also use a monotone voice or have minimal facial expressions, which causes difficulty for others to analyze your feelings and thoughts. Eye contact may be another meaningful social signal that you struggle with. Maybe you’ve been told you look away too frequently during conversations or even stare.
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Autism and Depression Statistics
Individuals with autism are four times as likely to experience depression. Rates of depression increase with intelligence and with age. This results in over 70% of adults with autism having mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. Sadly, these conditions often persist or worsen into adulthood.
Rates of major depressive disorder have been reported as
high as 37% in young adults with autism.
1 in 5 Americans
1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
1 in 68
CDC estimates that 1 in 68 developing young population has autism spectrum disorder.
Autism Facts Sheet
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known.
The following may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, ask your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation right away:
By 6 months
- Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful, and engaging expressions
- Limited or no eye contact
By 9 months
- Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions
By 12 months
- Little or no babbling
- Little or no back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving
- Little or no response to their name
By 16 months
- Very few or no words
By 24 months
- Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)
At any age
- Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling, or social skills
- Avoidance of eye contact
- Persistent preference for solitude
- Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
- Delayed language development
- Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)
- Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
- Restricted interests
- Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
- Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights, and colors
Everyone has their interests. But adults with autism usually focus on one or two subjects that they find highly engaging. For example, you may have a comprehensive or encyclopedic knowledge of a historical event or movie series.
While it’s often unique to others, it may restrict the amount you feel you can contribute to discussions beyond your favorite subjects. Connecting to people who don’t understand your interests may feel incredibly challenging or tedious. It might even lead you to avoid social interactions.
Keeping items organized or maintaining a consistent routine can help you feel that your life is predictable and secure. On the other hand, you may experience discomfort when your rituals and daily routine are interrupted, such as someone moving your belongings so they’re out of place or having to take a new route to work. You might feel so resentful that you have an explosion of strong emotions, such as anger.
To a person with ASD, certain feelings can be painful. For example, if someone taps you on the arm, you may feel discomfort, or certain smells, sounds, or textures may produce a similar unpleasant reaction. Sometimes, you may do everything you can to avoid that pain.
Diagnosis of autism in adults
There are no standard diagnostic criteria for adults with presumed ASD, but they are in development.
In the meantime, clinicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists primarily diagnose adults with autism through in-person interactions and observations. They also take into consideration any symptoms the individual reports experiencing.
If you’re interested in being diagnosed or evaluated for autism (ASD), begin with your family doctor, who will assess you to ensure there isn’t an underlying physical illness accounting for your behaviors. Your physician may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for an in-depth assessment.
The clinician will want to discuss your issues regarding emotions, communication, behavioral patterns, range of interests, and more. You’ll answer questions about your childhood, and your clinician might request to speak with your parents or other older family members to acquire their perspectives about your lifelong behavior patterns.
Suppose the diagnostic criteria for children are being used for reference. In that case, your clinician can ask your parent questions from that list, relying on their memories of you as a child for further information.
If your clinician resolves that you didn’t display symptoms of ASD in childhood but instead began experiencing symptoms as an adult, you may be evaluated for other possible mental health or affective disorders.
Because most autism diagnoses are made in children, finding a provider who will diagnose adults could be a challenge.
Autism Spectrum Test
Welcome to the Adult Autism Spectrum Test (ASD Test)! This comprehensive assessment is designed to provide you with insights into the possibility of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in adulthood. Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that affects individuals in various ways, and this test aims to evaluate certain traits and behaviors commonly associated with ASD.
It’s important to note that this test does not provide a medical diagnosis. For an accurate evaluation, we recommend consulting a qualified healthcare professional or specialist in autism. Remember, seeking a formal diagnosis can help you access the right support and resources tailored to your needs.
*By taking this free quiz, you may obtain your results online and in your email box. You’ll have the opportunity to opt-in to learn more about your symptoms, talk to a mental health consultant and join our newsletter. Rest assured your information is private and confidential. Results, consultations and assessment are provided without any cost to you and without any obligation. If you do not wish to provide your contact information, you may omit it during your quiz. Thank you for opting in and participating. To you best of health.
Inpatient treatment for adults with autism
Those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) display a wide range of intellectual and language abilities, experiences, strengths, and levels of functioning. Many individuals with autism can be treated in home and community settings. However, pharmacological and intensive behavioral autism treatment may be needed for adults in the clinical setting.
The Autism Inpatient Treatment Center is designed to care for adults who are showing treatment-resistant and severe behavioral disorders such as aggression and self-harm or who have undergone a decline in their usual level of psychiatric functioning. As the highest level of care, inpatient mental health treatment is most suitable for adults who have exhausted available care in the community and are in acute behavioral situations.
Types of therapies for autism
Applied behavior analysis
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of the most commonly used therapy options for adults with ASD. It refers to a series of procedures developed to encourage positive behaviors using a reward system.
There are several types of ABA, including:
Discrete trial training. This process uses a series of trials to motivate step-by-step learning. Correct behaviors and answers are rewarded, and mistakes are ignored.
Early intensive behavioral intervention. Adults work one-on-one with a therapist or in a small group. It’s usually done over several years to help a person develop communication skills and reduce problematic behaviors, including self-harm or aggression.
Pivotal response training. This strategy is used in an everyday environment that teaches a person with ASD pivotal skills, such as the motivation to learn or initiate communication.
Verbal behavior intervention. A therapist works with the client to help them understand why and how humans use language to communicate better and get the things they need.
Positive behavior support. This involves making environmental changes to the home or classroom to make good behavior feel more rewarding.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that can be effective in helping adults with ASD. During CBT sessions, individuals learn about the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This may help to identify the feelings and thoughts that trigger negative behaviors.
Social skills training
Social skills training (SST) allows adults to develop social skills. For some individuals with autism, interacting with others is very tough. This can lead to many challenges over time.
Someone undergoing SST learns basic social skills, including how to understand humor, carry on a conversation, and read emotional signals.
Sensory integration therapy
People with ASD are sometimes unusually affected by sensory input, such as sound, sight, or smell. Social integration therapy is founded on the theory that having some of your senses heightened makes it hard to learn and display positive behaviors. SIT tries to even out an individual’s response to sensory stimulation, usually done by an occupational therapist.
Occupational therapy (OT) is a field of healthcare that focuses on teaching individuals the fundamental skills they need in everyday life.
For adults, OT focuses on developing independent living skills, such as cleaning, cooking, and handling money.
Speech therapy teaches verbal skills that can help individuals with ASD communicate better. It’s usually done with either an occupational therapist or a speech-language pathologist. It can help individuals improve the rate and rhythm of their speech and use words correctly. It can also help adults improve how they communicate thoughts and feelings.
There aren’t any specific medications specifically developed to treat ASD. However, several medications used for other conditions that may occur with autism might help with specific symptoms.
Medications used to help manage autism fall into a few main categories:
Antipsychotics. Some newer antipsychotic medications may help with self-harm, aggression, and behavioral problems in adults with ASD. The FDA recently approved the us
Antidepressants. While many individuals with ASD take antidepressants, researchers aren’t yet sure whether they help with autism symptoms. Still, they may be valuable for treating depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety in adults with ASD.
Stimulants. Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), are typically used to treat ADHD, but they may also help with overlapping autism symptoms, including hyperactivity and inattention.
Anticonvulsants. Some people with ASD also have epilepsy, so antiseizure medications are sometimes prescribed.
Support for adults with ASD
Adults aren’t generally given the same support as children with ASD. Sometimes adults with ASD may be treated with verbal, cognitive, and applied behavioral therapy. More often, you’ll need to seek specific support based on the challenges you’re experiencing (such as social isolation, anxiety, relationship problems, or job difficulties).
Some possibilities include the following:
- Seeing a psychiatrist experienced in ASD for medical evaluation.
- Conferring a psychologist or social worker or for individual and therapy group.
- Getting counseling on an ongoing basis.
- Getting vocational rehabilitation (for career-related difficulties).
- Taking prescription medication for symptoms like depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues that may appear alongside ASD.
Many adults with ASD have found support through online forums and groups and by bonding with other adults on the autism spectrum.
Autism tips for daily living
If other individuals have a hard time understanding and reading you—and vice versa—you’ll likely have a problem with relationships. But you can still find ways to foster a healthy social life.
Consider disclosing your diagnosis
Talking about your diagnosis can be challenging, and the social stigma attached to autism may make you shy away. While the disclosure is entirely up to you and your comfort level, it may help improve some relationships. For instance, letting family and close friends know about your diagnosis can help them understand why you have difficulty interpreting their sarcastic comments or are distressed by sounds that seem ordinary to everyone else.
Note when you’re experiencing sensory overload
Maybe you find it challenging to keep up with everything that’s going on in an intense group discussion. Or perhaps something as simple as a barking dog or loud traffic bothers you. Do what you can to minimize distractions. This might involve changing rooms or leaving a bigger group for a one-on-one chat.
Look for common ground with the person you’re talking to
Establishing commonalities can lead to more enjoyable and relaxed conversations. If you have matching hobbies, that’s, of course, great news. Otherwise, you can look for other things you both like or dislike. This could be anything from a shared interest in cars to a dislike for loud noises.
Reach out to other adults with ASD
You might find that talking with others with autism is less tiring than other interactions. Although every person with autism is different, you share a common ground and can talk about your experiences. Additionally, neither of you will need to focus on reading or presenting social signals in a way that a neurotypical person might expect.
Treatment for autism spectrum disorder in adults
Autism isn’t a disease; it does not get worse with time as some illnesses do. There is neither a physical nor ethical reason to do anything about it. Only when the symptoms affect your quality of life—your health, job, relationships, and so on—that autism treatment for adults may be a good option.
Autism treatment for adults program is not meant to “cure” your autism. Instead, it’s intended to give you a framework to better understand your strengths and challenges.
Treatment for ASD should begin as soon as possible after diagnosis. Early treatment for mild autism in adults is vital as proper care can reduce individuals’ difficulties while helping them learn new skills and maximize their strengths.
The wide range of issues facing people with ASD means there is no single best treatment for ASD. Working closely with a doctor or health care professional is essential to finding the right treatment program.
Medications for autism treatment for adults
A physician may use medication to treat some common symptoms of ASD. With medication, an individual with ASD may have fewer problems with the following:
- Repetitive behavior.
- Attention problems.
- Anxiety and depression.
Behavioral, psychological, and educational therapy for autism treatment for adults
Individuals with ASD may be referred to physicians who specialize in providing psychological, behavioral, educational, or skill-building interventions. These programs are typically highly structured and intensive and may involve parents, friends, and other family members. Programs may help people with ASD:
- Learn life skills necessary to live independently.
- Reduce challenging behaviors.
- Increase or build upon strengths.
- Learn social, communication, and language skills.
Other resources for autism treatment for adults
Many social services programs and other resources can help people with ASD. Here are some tips for finding these additional services:
Contact your doctor, local health department, school, or autism advocacy group to learn about special programs or local resources.
Find an autism support group. Sharing information and experiences can help individuals with ASD and/or their caregivers learn about treatment options and ASD-related programs.
Record conversations and meetings with healthcare providers and teachers. This information helps when it’s time to decide which programs might best meet an individual’s needs.
Keep copies of doctors’ reports and evaluations. This information may help an individual qualify for special programs.
If you or your loved one has ASD or think that you have an undiagnosed ASD, then you need to reach out for professional help. Inpatient autism treatment for adults can become necessary. To learn more, contact us today at the We Level Up FL Treatment Facility; we provide the utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We can help provide an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.
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