Advances in research and medicine provide greater awareness of major health issues and shed light on the individuals directly affected. Developments surrounding Autism Spectrum Disorders have advanced exponentially over the last decade. The capability to diagnose, provide support, and offer therapies for our friends and loved ones with Autism thrive is progressing at an incredible rate. Did you know that researchers only began actively tracking and collecting data on Autism diagnoses in the early 2000s? It may appear as though Autism diagnosis is climbing at an exorbitant rate. Still, due to better awareness, understanding, and education, metrics for diagnosis have helped medical professionals better identify those with neurodivergent disorders like Autism. Advancements in diagnosis and treatment options have provided adults with Autism better access to resources and support to help neurotypical individuals better understand how their brains function.
The Increase in Autism Diagnosis – Understanding Neurodivergent
Due to the increase in research, studies, and understanding of Autism diagnosis, it’s become more and more apparent that as a society we’ve left a large number of young adults and older adults behind. While we can’t change the past, efforts to better understand and provide resources for adults with Autism and make accessible diagnosis and treatment available can help close the gap.
Those with Autism can experience a wide variety of neurodivergent traits ranging from speech and nonverbal communication, social interaction challenges, and restrictive and repetitive behaviors. As understanding of Autism increases, diagnosis is more common among children under 10. Since advancements have only started gaining momentum, adults with Autism are learning their traits may have a tangible medical answer to their questions.
Autism 211: In Our Own Words: A Panel of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (2016) – Seattle Children’s
We should not be asking, “Why are more people being diagnosed?” Instead, we should be asking, “Are my behaviors and traits related to a potential Autism diagnosis or other neurodivergent disorder?” Knowing you may have undiagnosed Autism will help you seek out resources and therapies to overcome your challenges. These resources will help you and your loved ones become more educated together as you traverse social and personal situations.
Resources for Adults With Autism
No single person is the same; from the things we eat to the way medications and therapies work for each and every one of us, it’s imperative that every neurodivergent trait, every symptom of illness, and every disorder diagnosis is observed individually for us all. In the same manner, symptoms of disorders such as Tourette’s or Parkinson’s vary in severity and expression for every individual, Autistic traits vary for every person differently.
Adults who have lived their whole lives with Autism have typically learned to adapt and develop with their traits. While some may not even have a word or definition for their symptoms, they may feel support or therapies are unnecessary. In other cases, learning their symptoms may have an actual diagnosis might help them seek out assistance or medical attention to better understand and manage their symptoms. If you are an individual seeking out resources for an adult diagnosis of Autism, we’ve put together a list of resources to help!
Adult Autism Resources:
The Asperger/Autism Network – This organization is an incredible resource to help connect people with Autism to local and global community and support groups, link them to events, educational conferences, and other online resources, as well as help them connect with a variety of local therapists and groups to help you feel heard, accepted, and empowered.
The Autism Society – The Autism Society hosts a variety of reputable conferences around the U.S and has a volunteer network that works to actively engage communities and help raise awareness. They encourage acceptance, understanding, and they aim to celebrate differences.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network – ASAN is a unique nonprofit organization run by and for Autistic people. It also engages the community and networking conversations regarding identity first language as it applies to Autism. They are highly involved in education, raising Autism advocacy events, leadership events, and much more.
The Autism Science Foundation – ASF’s mission statement includes a focus on science and research to help fund treatments, education, and their goal is to focus on genetic science, early diagnosis, and treatment to ensure those with Autism have the available resources to grow and develop in ways that best suit their needs.
The Interactive Autism Network – Specifically focused on education, empowerment, integration, and acceptance, IAN provides adults and youth alike with local networking to help them successfully navigate social challenges and read applicable research and other educational material.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – This link can provide persons with a more extensive list of public and private programs, educational links, and community resources to help them learn, grow, encourage acceptance, and find support.
Acceptance vs. Awareness – Changing Perceptions
Today, information, resources, and community networking is readily available. It is important that neurotypical individuals do their most to support and elevate the voices of neurodivergent individuals. To fully accept and appreciate all of our loved ones, we can all help educate, adapt, and support the efforts to make every aspect of life more accessible to people from all walks of life. Let’s celebrate our differences and enjoy life together!
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