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Getting Diagnosed With Autism As An Adult

Explore the challenges and empowerment of late diagnosis of autism in adulthood. Learn about self-advocacy, societal misconceptions, and coping strategies after getting diagnosed with autism as an adult. Gain insights into navigating life after diagnosis and find resources for understanding and acceptance

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Image by 8photo on Freepik
Image by 8photo on Freepik

Le's start of by acknowledge that it is possible to diagnose autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in any age. Early diagnosis is essential to achieving the best possible health outcomes for the patient. On the other hand, many individuals with ASD may not get a correct diagnosis until they are adults.

The American Psychiatric Association states that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects social communication and social relationships throughout life. It is characterized by extensive abnormalities in both areas, including repetitive interests and behaviors.

Many individuals are unaware of how important it is to receive an early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). An early diagnosis of ASD can significantly impact the conditions of the individuals and their family members (Rosenberg et al., 2011). Research has shown that an early diagnosis of this disorder has enormous benefits for individuals and helps their relatives give appropriate help to reduce stress (Zwaigenbaum et al., 2019).

There are many cases where people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may not receive a proper diagnosis until adulthood. It may lead to delayed access to essential support and medical interventions. There is a very crucial need for further research aiming to summarize findings on autism diagnosis in adulthood to achieve more in-depth knowledge regarding this issue and prevent misconceptions. 

Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) during their adulthood may have a crucial impact on someone's life. Individuals who have received early diagnosis have stated that it helped them in facing the reality and struggle of this disorder, including the cost of care, appropriate treatment and medical assistance towards recovery.

There are negative impacts of ASD persisting into adulthood, impacting social interactions in society and the individual's personal development. Hence, an early diagnosis is essential to ensure the individual's health outcome is fully optimized. This might start the process of giving people access to the medical care and assistance they need to improve the quality of their lives.

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be essential knowledge to recognize and support people who suffer from this condition. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is defined as a neurological and developmental illness which affects people's interaction, communication, learning, and behaviour with one another (Ahmed, Ahmed, Bellotti, Bellotti, Barresi, Floris, & Berta, 2023).

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Image by Freepik

It is a spectrum of related disorders that share similar core symptoms. Individuals who lie under the autism spectrum have different degrees of problems of social interchange, compassion, communication and adaptable behaviour. However, it is essential to acknowledge that each person presents with unique symptoms and behaviors that contribute to the diagnosis.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) misconceptions and stereotypes have contributed to a number of misunderstandings and hindered the diagnosis of the illness. To provide society a more complete and accurate knowledge of this condition, it is imperative to eliminate the stigma and myths around it.

Primarily, adulthood diagnosis in Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may be subsequently tricky due to the required symptoms since childhood. As a result, it depends a lot on development and medical records, which might not be available or might be biased by memory (Huang et al., 2020).

While some people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may find it challenging to socialize and communicate, some individuals with this diagnosis also have many distinguished talents. These strengths include an intense interest in specific topics and a strong focus. Thus, it is vital to determine the diverse characteristics and capabilities of individuals with autism. 

The diagnosis criteria for Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), have difficulties with commuting and interacting, limited interest and repetitive behaviour, and symptoms affecting the individual's capacity to function in several areas of their life. 

How Autism Can Go Undiagnosed Until Adulthood

Image by 8photo on Freepik
Image by 8photo on Freepik

Challenges and barriers to adult diagnosis of autism are complex, having a mixture of societal, healthcare, and individual factors. Many reputable journals have reported these issues, giving further understanding and insights into reasons autism may go undiagnosed in adulthood, stereotypes of autism and misconceptions surrounding this issue.

Problems regarding the lack of awareness among medical professionals and the general public about this phenomenon and gender disparities in autism are also important to understand. 

Why You Can Get Dianosed With Autism in Adulthood

Much research has identified several factors that might contribute to the late diagnosis of autism in adults. The recent systematic review reports that perceptions of other people have a significant role in affecting the diagnosis of females with autism. Their perception includes compensatory behaviours, limited knowledge of the issue, and biases among healthcare providers. This results in a late diagnosis, which is why it is important to spread awareness and have the knowledge to understand autism spectrum disorder (ADS).

Societal Misconceptions Surrounding Autism

The stigma and misconceptions surrounding autism heavily contribute to the late diagnosis of autism in adults. Lack of awareness and misleading information among the general public, parents, teachers and health professionals were seen as huge barriers to providing accurate diagnosis of individuals who suffer from autistic spectrum disorder(ADS). Acknowledging the low awareness and misconceptions is vital to improving adult diagnosis rates. 

Gender Disparities in Autism Diagnosis

It is critical to recognize that difficulties in identifying autism in adults are partly caused by gender differences in autism. To enhance the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among females, it is critical to address gender-specific hurdles, according to a systematic study on the subject that focused on barriers for young women and girls. This highlights how important it is to take gender into account when diagnosing autism.

A multifaceted strategy is needed to address these issues, including raising awareness, combating negative stigma, dispelling myths, and identifying impediments that are gender-specific. It is possible to enhance adult autism diagnosis by addressing these problems, which will benefit autistic people's outcomes.

Impacts of Late Diagnosis of Autism in Adulthood

Acquiring a late diagnosis as an adult with autistic spectrum disorder (ADS) can have a deep emotional and psychological result on the individual. Some adults who obtained a late diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder (ADS) experience different degrees of responses, including emotional validation, a new perspective and knowledge regarding their identity, and feelings of remorse after the diagnosis. This rollercoaster of emotions can be exhausting yet reliefing to individuals who are diagnosed.

The emotional and psychological impact of late diagnosis can be significantly influential, as it can provide a sense of relief and clarity and allow access to appropriate support. However, it may also lead the individual to feel grief and lack of support in their early life. 

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Image by jcomp on Freepik

A late diagnosis of autism in adulthood can further pose challenges in various aspects of their life, especially social relationships, education and career. It can not be easy to accept the new situation as it affects their whole existence as an adult human being.

Individuals who were diagnosed with autism in their adulthood may have missed out on various opportunities for tailored support and accommodation. This may further impact their social interaction, education, and employment experience. Most importantly, the delay in diagnosis has potentially prevented early access to proper medical interventions.

Moreover, an adult who received a late diagnosis of autism commonly experienced occasional mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

There should be a further analysis regarding psychiatric comorbidities, especially depression (30-70%), anxiety disorders (45-56%), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHS) (30%) are common mental health issues in ASD (Tebartz van Elst, 2015).

The presence of these conditions can become a complex factor in giving a comprehensive evaluation to ensure both autism and any co-occurring mental health disorders are being diagnosed.  

The impacts of late diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) can lead to complex and severe psychological complications. The individuals and their close friends and relatives need to be aware of the symptoms and behaviour that may lead to the concern of autism.

Awareness and deep understanding of this topic are crucial as they may help prevent and recover people who might fall into depression from the diagnosis. It can be difficult and isolating for a person who receives a late diagnosis of autism, as it can be an overwhelming experience. Supporting and helping individuals who suffer from this should be a priority for everyone around him as it may affect their lives drastically.  

Navigating Life After Being Diagnosed With Autism

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Image by Freepik

Being diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) later in life might take a toll on some people. However, there are ways to navigate life after an autism diagnosis. Though it can be challenging, there are always methods to help individuals with these special circumstances.

  • Building a strong support system

Having a strong support system consisting of close friends, close families and spouses is a positive thing when facing difficult obstacles in life including late-diagnosed autism.

Building a strong support system who are willing to learn and have a deep understanding towards this diagnosis can give immense help to the individuals suffering. As the journey of autism might be confusing and exhausting, having a strong support system might ease the pain. 

Additionally, searching for local communities and groups that allow you to connect with other individuals with autism can give valuable social and emotional support. Knowing that you are not alone in this difficult journey can give a sense of relief to those suffering with autism. 

  • Self-advocacy

Another important aspect when navigating life after a late autism diagnosis is self-advocacy, a fundamental skill that holds significance not only in the United States but on a worldwide level.

Acquiring self-advocacy skills and having knowledge in communicating personal needs and preferences can truly help individuals with autism navigate their social interactions, careers, and healthcare treatments across diverse cultural contexts.

The American Psychological Association emphasizes how crucial developing self-advocacy skills is, offering guidance on how to properly communicate with people such as employers, healthcare providers, and others about one's special needs and strengths.

This emphasis on self-advocacy resonates globally, underlining the importance of empowering individuals with autism to articulate their needs and advocate for themselves, irrespective of geographical boundaries.

  • Developing routines and activities that bring joy 

There are various ways to help individuals with autism cope and adapt to life after the diagnosis. Though this life-changing event may affect someone's life majorly, there are still many ways to cope with the overwhelming circumstance.

Developing routines and activities that bring joy and excitement can be a positive way to cope with autism. It is important to prioritize self-care and mental health. Doing activities that previously have brought excitement to their life can be a relaxing method of coping.

Managing the emotional and psychological impact of the diagnosis is very essential for overall health and quality of life.

  • Getting professional healthcare assistance

As this condition might be a complex and confusing for many people, getting professional healthcare assistance with a deep understanding of this topic is essential. Finding healthcare professionals that you can trust is vital to getting proper treatments to help navigate life after the late diagnosis of autism. 

It is crucial to notice that early detection and support are the most vital factors for individuals with autism. Because, it significantly influences their academic, social, and overall quality of life outcomes.

However, it is a huge issue that there is a huge gap in awareness, acceptance, and accessibility for those who receive the late diagnosis of autism.

This pressing issue needs involvement from various parties such as educators, healthcare providers, and the general public to have a deep understanding of the necessary knowledge and resources to spot and support adults who suffer from autism.


Every individual who experiences receiving a late autism diagnosis needs a comprehensive approach to increase awareness, acceptance, and accessibility to provide convenience and support.

When you these basic fundamental changes and implement proactive measures, we can bring change and positively impact the lives of people navigating the complexities and overwhelming feeling of receiving a late autism diagnosis. This can give a sense of empowerment for individuals to reach their full potential.

Written by Ida Ayu Merlyn Ardhia Prada

Edited by Virginia Helzainka


Ahmed, F., Requena Carrión, J., Bellotti, F., Barresi, G., Floris, F., & Berta, R. (2023). Applications of serious games as affective disorder therapies in autistic and neurotypical individuals: A literature review. Applied Sciences, 13(8), 4706. 

Huang, Y., Arnold, S. R., Foley, K.-R., & Trollor, J. N. (2020). Diagnosis of autism in adulthood: A scoping review. Autism, 24(6), 1311–1327. 

Rosenberg RE, Landa R, Law JK, Stuart EA, Law PA. Factors affecting age at initial autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in a national survey. Autism Res Treat. 2011.

Zwaigenbaum L, Duku E, Fombonne E, Szatmari P, Smith I, Bryson S, et al. Developmental functioning and symptom severity influence the age of diagnosis in Canadian preschool children with autism. Pediatr Child Health. 2019;24(1):e57–65.


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