Adults with Autism | Interactive Autism Network (2023)

Adults with Autism | Interactive Autism Network (1)What happens when someone with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) leaves school and makes the transition to adult services, college, work, job training, or a new living situation? What does research say about the issues that affect adults with ASD and their families? See the following links for these and other topics.

Beyond High School: The Transition

Coming of Age: Autism and The Transition to Adulthood
The road to adulthood officially begins for many teens when they graduate. But for people with autism, leaving high school is a more monumental step, one that will transform their relationship to services and supports.

Daily Living Skills: A Key to Independence for People with Autism.
A "surprising" number of teens with autism struggle with daily living skills — hygiene, riding a bus, shopping or preparing a meal — regardless of intelligence. Experts say it's important to focus on teaching such skills as a key to independence.

(Video) Understanding Executive Functioning in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism and the College Experience
Many students struggle to adjust to the challenges of college: dorms, independence, tough classes and a new social world. But for people with autism, the transition can be more dramatic. How should they prepare?

Finding a College Program for Students with Autism
Regardless of where a student falls on the autism spectrum, whether he was valedictorian or left high school without a diploma, there is a college program for him. But it will take a little research to find the right fit. Here are some resources and tips that can help.

What Will Happen When the School Bus Stops Coming?
Three families share their stories about the transition to adulthood with autism. What should someone with autism and his family do to prepare for life after graduation?

Video on Autism and Skills For Adulthood
In this video, Dr. Peter Gerhardt discusses the adaptive skills that teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorder need to acquire to help them lead safe, productive, and fulfilling adult lives. These skills include safety, hygiene, employment, social competence, decision-making, self-management, leisure, and communication.

Autism in the Teen Years: What to Expect, How to Help
What parent doesn't watch their "tween" become a teen without a twinge of anxiety? Factor autism into the equation, and parents may well wonder how the physical and hormonal changes of adolescence will affect their child on the spectrum. Find out what researchers and experts say about autism during the teen years.

Autism Beyond High School
Unprecedented numbers of young people with ASD will be making the transition to adulthood over the next few years. We briefly explore some of the programs available to those who qualify; the research on the provision of adult services; and efforts to improve the prospects of adults with ASD.

(Video) Asperger/Autism Disclosure Stories

Deciding When to Disclose
High functioning adults who do not show very obvious signs of having an ASD often face a decision: when and if to disclose their ASD at school, work, or in relationships. Read about factors to consider when making disclosure decisions.

Rules of the Road: Driving and ASD
The young person with high-functioning ASD faces all of the same challenges as anyone else getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time. Plus, autism may pose additional challenges, such as attentional difficulties and anxiety. Read about the experiences of drivers and research into how to support their efforts.

Jobs and housing for adults with ASD

To Tell or Not to Tell: Disclosing a Disability in the Workplace
You have autism. Should you tell an employer?

Autism and the Workplace: How Well Are We Doing?
How well are Vocational Rehabilitation agencies preparing people with autism for the workforce?

Employment and ASD: Preparing for the World of Work
In this video, Ernst VanBergeijk, PhD, MSW, discusses job trends for people with autism, skills that help individuals get and keep jobs, and how employers and co-workers can create an autism-friendly workplace.

Rocky Road: The Career Paths of People with Autism and Their Parents
What happens to your career when you or your child has autism? Find out what research says about the effect of autism on job histories – and how some parents and adults with ASD have responded to the challenge.

(Video) Therapeutic Treatments of Anxiety for Adults with Asperger Autism Profiles

A Place of Their Own: Residential Services for Soon-to-Be Adults with Autism
An unprecedented number of families will soon watch their children with autism leave school and flood the adult disability system. These children, the first wave of the so-called "autism epidemic," will enter a disability system already under strain. The influx represents a "looming crisis of unprecedented magnitude," according to onepaper. What will happen next?

The Changing Employment Scene for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Despite the challenges of finding and sustaining employment, transition services and better workplace supports are opening up more job opportunities for those on the spectrum. Advocates also urge individuals to prepare for careers from high school, and train for the job interview process.

Adult Employment: Strangers in a Strange Land
Today's 20-somethings with autism often feel like strangers among their own species when they leave the legal protections afforded schoolchildren to enter the adult world of limited support services, long waiting lists, and scant funding. Those who become accomplished sometimes look back on their experiences to reflect on their sense of alienation in a society that doesn't look favorably on those who don't blend in easily. Find out what the researchers have learned about the transition.

Health Care for Adults with Autism

The Challenge: Finding Health Care Providers for Adults with Autism
Are internists, psychiatrists and other health care providers who treat adults ready for new patients with autism?

Leaving the Pediatrician: Charting the Medical Transition of Youth with Autism
Few teens with autism are prepared for a vital transition, that from pediatric doctors to providers who treat adults. A smooth transition is crucial because adults with autism have more medical and psychiatric problems than other people. Find out what you can do.

Family and Personal Relationships

Romantic Relationships for Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism
Despite the social struggles experienced by many people with high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome, some adults are able to develop intimate personal relationships. Read more in this article by Tony Attwood.

(Video) In Our Own Words: A Panel of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (2016)

Adults with ASD: My Brother's (Sister's) Keeper
The sibling bond typically undergoes major changes during adulthood. Researchers are delving into the possibility that this bond plays a key role in the quality of adult life when one of the siblings has an ASD.

AUTISM in middle age and beyond

A Lost Generation: Growing Up with Autism Before the "Epidemic"
What was it like to grow up with autism before anyone, including you and your parents, knew what it was?

Raising Children with Autism, Before the "Epidemic"
What was it like to raise a child with autism decades ago, before most people knew what this "rare" disorder was? Meet two families whose footsteps helped pave the way for the many who would follow them today.

Very Late Diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome
Simon Baron-Cohen and colleagues at the Autism Research Centrediscuss those with Asperger's who grew up before the diagnosis existed. They describe a program designed to help diagnose and assist these adults.

Research on adults with autism

What Do We Really Know About Autism and Crime?
News reports have highlighted high-profile crimes allegedly committed by people with autism spectrum disorderin recent years. But media speculation aside, what do we really know about autism and violent crime?

Adults with ASD: The Spectrum
Many children with ASD improve in social and communication behaviors during adolescence and adulthood. Researchers are wondering: What distinguishes these children from those who don't seem to benefit from the same degree of improvement? What can be done to maximize the potential of each individual in the real world?

(Video) Autism Research Press Conference December 2, 2021

Behavior Therapy Beyond Childhood
Can teens and adults benefit from behavior therapy? In this article, Tom Frazier and Leslie Sinclair of the Cleveland Clinic bust the myth that intensive behavior therapy works only for young children.

First Look: Data on Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Get a preview of the initial data provided by adults, or their legal representatives, who responded to the IAN Adult with ASD Questionnaire. These data are preliminary, gathered from a small sample of respondents thus far, but perhaps you have some ideas on how to reach more of these adults, who can provide valuable information to advocates, policymakers, and researchers.

The 'C' Word: Common Cause in Spite of Conflicting Perspectives
Connie Anderson, PhD, explores cure as hope, as answer, and as healing...and cure as hurtful condemnation of a different way of being and thinking. However, what may be most useful is not to let the c-word get in the way of what everyone wants: a greatly improved situation for individuals with ASD.

Resources for Adults with ASD


How do autistic adults cope with stress? ›

Exercise. It is good for everyone to exercise daily. Exercise is known to help lower stress during challenging times. Families can exercise and get healthy together, that way they are teaching this coping mechanism to the autistic person to use during stressful times in life.

What are the signs of high functioning autism in adults? ›

Signs of autism in adults
  1. finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling.
  2. getting very anxious about social situations.
  3. finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own.
  4. seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to.
  5. finding it hard to say how you feel.

What type of therapy is best for adults with autism? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that can be effective in helping children and adults. During CBT sessions, people learn about the connections between feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. This may help to identify the thoughts and feelings that trigger negative behaviors.

What is the best way to communicate with autistic adults? ›

Tips for Talking to Adults on the Autism Spectrum
  1. Address him or her as you would any other adult, not a child. ...
  2. Avoid using words or phrases that are too familiar or personal. ...
  3. Say what you mean. ...
  4. Take time to listen. ...
  5. If you ask a question, wait for a response. ...
  6. Provide meaningful feedback.

How do I stop autism anxiety? ›

Getting help with managing anxiety in autistic children and teenagers
  1. cognitive behaviour therapy – this helps children develop skills to change their thinking in situations that make them anxious.
  2. therapies and supports that use gradual exposure to help children face their fears – for example, the stepladder approach.
6 Nov 2020

How do autistic people deal with anger? ›

Anger management Advice & Support for:
  1. Communicate clearly.
  2. Provide structure.
  3. Help to identify emotions.
  4. Offer a safe space or 'time out'
  5. Offer an alternative.
  6. Find out if the person is being bullied.
  7. Useful resources.
14 Aug 2020

How does a high functioning autistic person act? ›

High-functioning autism means that a person is able to read, write, speak, and handle daily tasks, such as eating and getting dressed independently. Despite having symptoms of autism, their behavior doesn't interfere too much with their work, school, or, relationships.

Can I claim disability for autism? ›

DLA is a non-diagnosis specific benefit, so having a diagnosis of autism will not automatically lead to an award, but many children on the autism spectrum do qualify for the benefit. It is also entirely non-means-tested, so your income and savings are not taken into account.

What is borderline autism in adults? ›

What is borderline autism in adults? For the purposes of this article I will just say that borderline autism is really what it sounds like. It can be something as simple as having symptoms of autism spectrum disorder yet not meeting the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder.

How do adults take care of themselves with autism? ›

10 Tips for Self-Care
  1. Respect your own unique pace. ...
  2. Find calming activities to unwind. ...
  3. Reconnect to Nature. ...
  4. Relax and take breaks. ...
  5. Reconnect to your hobbies and interests. ...
  6. Build life skills. ...
  7. Nourish your body. ...
  8. Research online events and community gatherings.
10 Apr 2020

What medications are good for autism? ›

Medication Treatment for Autism
  • Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) This group of antidepressants treats some problems that result from imbalances in the body's chemical systems. ...
  • Tricyclics. ...
  • Psychoactive or anti-psychotic medications. ...
  • Stimulants. ...
  • Anti-anxiety medications. ...
  • Anticonvulsants.
19 Apr 2021

How do people with autism live as adults? ›

Many adults with autism live at home or with a friend or family member. When additional support is needed, in-home services may include a companion, homemaking/housekeeping, therapy and other health services, or personal care. Respite Care.

How do autistic people make friends? ›

Tips for Making Friends When You're Autistic:
  1. Manage Your Anxiety. ...
  2. Set Realistic Expectations. ...
  3. Learn How to Initiate Conversations. ...
  4. Practice Mindfulness. ...
  5. Ease Into the Conversation By Asking Open-Ended Questions. ...
  6. Offer Validation.
24 Feb 2021

What is it like to talk to an autistic person? ›

People with autism often speak with a different rhythm, prosody, and/or volume than typical peers. Thus, even if the words themselves are appropriate, they may sound flat, loud, soft, or otherwise different. It's not unusual for people with autism to "script" their conversations.

How do autistic adults improve social skills? ›

Social skills development for people with autism involves: Direct or explicit instruction and "teachable moments" with practice in realistic settings. Focus on timing and attention. Support for enhancing communication and sensory integration.

Why do people with autism worry so much? ›

Difficult social situations and sensory environments can increase stress and increase anxiety for autistic people. Another significant cause of anxiety is a sense of being misunderstood and/or not accepted by non-autistic people. To 'fit in' and not be seen as different, autistic people might mask or camouflage.

Can stress bring on autism? ›

Prenatal stress was linked to increased risk of a child developing ASD. ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by impaired social interactions and communication, as well as by stereotypic movements.

Does stress cause autism? ›

High levels of stress during pregnancy may also be connected to autism in children. This connection appears to have the most impact when the parent experiences stress between weeks 25 and 28 of pregnancy.

What causes anger in autistic adults? ›

The Connection Between Anger & Autism In Children & Adults

Actions that are taken as tantrums or angry expressions could be them attempting to get others to understand them. Such incidents may also be linked to stress, worry, and anxiety. Autistic people have personalities that are sometimes described as addictive.

How do people with autism deal with emotions? ›

People with autism will often analyze emotions differently and will misinterpret your emotions, which can be confusing. They will take the time to deal with challenges to better manage their understanding of others, while taking advantage of your patience to feel understood by another person.

Is rage common in autism? ›

Adults diagnosed with autism disorders are prone to anger outbursts. An 'on-off' quality where individuals may be calm one second and in a rage the next is common. Family members and significant others may grow resentful over time due to misunderstanding this behavior.

What is high functioning autism called now? ›

As of 2013, Asperger Syndrome and High-functioning autism are no longer terms used by the American Psychological Association, and have instead both been merged into autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

What are the signs of mild autism in adults? ›

Common symptoms of autism in adults include:
  • Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling.
  • Trouble interpreting facial expressions, body language, or social cues.
  • Difficulty regulating emotion.
  • Trouble keeping up a conversation.
  • Inflection that does not reflect feelings.

How can you tell if someone is on the spectrum? ›

Other Characteristics
  1. Delayed language skills.
  2. Delayed movement skills.
  3. Delayed cognitive or learning skills.
  4. Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior.
  5. Epilepsy or seizure disorder.
  6. Unusual eating and sleeping habits.
  7. Gastrointestinal issues (for example, constipation)
  8. Unusual mood or emotional reactions.

What benefits can an autistic person claim? ›

Benefits you can get Advice & Support for:
  • Disability benefits (Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment)
  • Benefits for people who are not working (or only doing a small amount of work)
  • Jobseeker's Allowance.
  • Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Income Support.
  • Carer's Allowance.
8 Dec 2020

What is adult disability payment? ›

Adult Disability Payment is extra money to help you if you have a disability or long-term health condition that affects your everyday life. We refer to these things as your condition.

Do people with autism qualify for Social Security benefits? ›

Conditions like autism are recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as potentially disabling and may be able to qualify you or your child for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits through one of both of the SSA's disability programs.

What does very mild autism look like? ›

Characteristics of Mild Autism

Repetitive or fixated behaviors, interests, or activities: Autistic people often repeat movements or words as a way to self-regulate, a behavior often referred to as “stimming.” They may also adhere to specific routines and have specific and intense interests.

Can autism get worse in adults? ›

Autism does not change or worsen with age, and it is not curable.

Can trauma cause autism in adults? ›

Autism is a genetic neurodevelopmental disorder that is not caused by childhood trauma or abuse.

What is it like living with someone with autism? ›

Living with a person with an ASD affects the entire family—parents, siblings, and in some families, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Meeting the complex needs of a person with an ASD can put families under a great deal of stress—emotional, financial, and sometimes even physical.

What does a person with autism need? ›

Although this can sometimes feel challenging, it is important to recognize three very simple factors that every person with ASD needs: safety, acceptance and a sense of competence.

How do you make an autistic person feel comfortable? ›

Support your friend if they ask for help. Be sensitive to what they want and need, not just how you think they should improve or behave. Try not to talk over or about them when others are around. Help them work on social skills by trying to engage them in conversations with yourself and others.

What is the number one treatment for autism? ›

Behavioral approaches have the most evidence for treating symptoms of ASD. They have become widely accepted among educators and healthcare professionals and are used in many schools and treatment clinics. A notable behavioral treatment for people with ASD is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

What is the best antipsychotic for autism? ›

Some commonly prescribed atypical antipsychotics for autistic people are risperidone, quetiapine, aripiprazole, ziprasidone and olanzapine.

Are you born with autism? ›

Autism is not an illness

It means your brain works in a different way from other people. It's something you're born with. Signs of autism might be noticed when you're very young, or not until you're older. If you're autistic, you're autistic your whole life.

How old does the average autistic person live? ›

On March 21, 2017, CNN published an article on a new study from the American Journal of Public Health that found the average life span of an autistic person is 36 years. I wasn't shocked by this news. I know how dire things can be for so many of us on the spectrum, but that number struck me for a very specific reason.

What difficulties do adults with autism have? ›

Common characteristics include: difficulties interpreting social rules and body language, which can lead to confusion or misunderstandings. difficulty in forming and maintaining friendships. a tendency to take things literally, which can lead to communication difficulties.

Can autistic adults live alone? ›

Can a person with autism spectrum disorder live an independent adult life? The simple answer to this question is yes, a person with autism spectrum disorder can live independently as an adult. However, not all individuals achieve the same level of independence.

Why is it so hard for autistic people to make friends? ›

They may struggle to cope with anxiety that could be linked to them not knowing what to say in conversations. Anxiety can lead to the avoidance of social situations. This can mean the individual with autism becomes socially isolated, meaning they have limited opportunities to make new friends.

Do autistic people understand friendship? ›

Autistic people overwhelmingly report that they want friends. And they have shown that they can and do form friendships with both neurotypical and autistic peers, even if their interactions sometimes look different from those among neurotypical people.

How do autistic people view friendship? ›

Many autistic people would really like to form genuine friendships but struggle to do so because of the difficulty of understanding social cues and non-verbal communication as well as issues associated with social anxiety.

What does autism feel like in adults? ›

Common signs of autism in adults include: finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling. getting very anxious about social situations. finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own.

Do autistics interrupt? ›

Many autistic individuals have the habit of talking too much. They will not stop unless you interrupt them. Thus, many autistic people interrupt each other to communicate that they want the other person to stop, as this is the only way they can get a word in.

How do you communicate with high functioning autistic adults? ›

How to Talk to Someone with “High-Functioning” Autism
  1. Focus on Individuals Strengths. ...
  2. Understand the Impact of Negative Labels. ...
  3. Appropriate Social Inclusion. ...
  4. Speak Clearly and Literally. ...
  5. Ask Questions and Facilitate Successful Dialogue. ...
  6. Initiate Conversation and Identify Commonalities. ...
  7. Avoid Distracting Environments.
26 Apr 2022

How do autistic people feel in social situations? ›

Those with ASD may experience confusion and sensory overstimulation in social situations and therefore may be less inclined to seek out social activity. Those with SAD do not experience sensory issues, choosing to withdraw from social situations for fear of being judged.

Can autism be caused by lack of social interaction? ›

Social deprivation alters adult behavioral patterns, neuroanatomy, and neurochemistry in ways that resemble autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These deficits include impairments in communication, social perception, and social behavior.

Can people with autism handle stress? ›

Stress and Autism Spectrum Disorders

In many cases, people find it much harder to deal with stress if they have autism or Asperger's syndrome. Sensory problems can create many difficulties in coping with too much sensory stimulation.

Can autism symptoms get worse with stress? ›

Preliminary findings indicate that people with ASD may be at high risk for experiencing stressful and traumatic life events, the sequelae of which can negatively impact mental health through the development of comorbid psychopathology and/or worsening of the core symptoms of ASD (Mehtar and Mukaddes 2011; Taylor and ...

Does stress make autism symptoms worse? ›

Background and Aims: Persons with combined sensory and intellectual disabilities are more sensitive to stress than people without disabilities, especially when they have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Reversely, stress can also trigger ASD symptoms.

Does stress exacerbate autism? ›

Maternal stress has been strongly associated with increased risk of developing ASD. Children experience multiple stressors such as separation anxiety, fear of the unknown, physical and/or emotional trauma, bullying, as well as environmental exposures. Stress is well known to affect learning and motivation.

What are some triggers for autism? ›

Every autistic person is different, but sensory differences, changes in routine, anxiety, and communication difficulties are common triggers.

What is autism burnout like? ›

''Autistic burnout is a state of physical and mental fatigue, heightened stress, and diminished capacity to manage life skills, sensory input, and/or social interactions, which comes from years of being severely overtaxed by the strain of trying to live up to demands that are out of sync with our needs. ''

What do autistic people struggle to do? ›

Autistic people may:
  • find it hard to communicate and interact with other people.
  • find it hard to understand how other people think or feel.
  • find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable.
  • get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events.

Can emotional trauma cause autism? ›

Autism is a genetic neurodevelopmental disorder that is not caused by childhood trauma or abuse.

Can autism be caused by neglect? ›

Autism is likely to have multiple genes responsible rather than a single gene. However, it is not caused by emotional deprivation or the way a person has been brought up.

What happens if you don't treat autism? ›

Adults who have not received appropriate treatment may have trouble living independently, may be unemployed, and may struggle with relationships. Autism can also impact physical and mental health, according to the 2017 National Autism Indicators Report: Developmental Disability Services and Outcomes in Adulthood.

What does PTSD look like in autism? ›

And people with more autistic traits display a specific form of PTSD, one characterized by hyperarousal: They may be more easily startled, more likely to have insomnia, predisposed to anger and anxiety, or have greater difficulty concentrating than is seen in other forms of PTSD.

Does autism make you tired? ›

Being autistic can make fatigue and burnout more likely, due to the pressures of social situations and sensory overload. If your child or the person you care for is experiencing fatigue or burnout, helping them to manage their energy levels is essential, as this guide explains.

What is an autism meltdown? ›

Meltdowns are similar to the fight response. When an autistic person is having a meltdown they often have increased levels of anxiety and distress which are often interpreted as frustration, a 'tantrum' or an aggressive panic attack.

What is the number one cause of autism? ›

Autism spectrum disorder has no single known cause. Given the complexity of the disorder, and the fact that symptoms and severity vary, there are probably many causes. Both genetics and environment may play a role.

What makes autistic people anxious? ›

Difficult social situations and sensory environments can increase stress and increase anxiety for autistic people. Another significant cause of anxiety is a sense of being misunderstood and/or not accepted by non-autistic people. To 'fit in' and not be seen as different, autistic people might mask or camouflage.

Can autism look like trauma? ›

Children who experience trauma when they are young may display autism-like behaviours that fit the timeline for an ASD diagnosis, which tends to occur around early school-age. In the absence of trauma-informed assessment, autism can sometimes be the default diagnosis.


1. Adults With Autism
(Emory University)
2. Adults with Autism - Dr. Peter Crino - MPT's Your Health
3. Secondary Data Analysis in ASD Research: Using Interactive Autism Network (IAN) Data
4. Autism Now: For Adults With Autism, Few Support Options Past Age 21
(PBS NewsHour)
5. Working with people with autism: the professionals
(Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE))
6. Autism Stories: Adults on The Spectrum
(Autism Speaks)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Laurine Ryan

Last Updated: 12/25/2022

Views: 5545

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Laurine Ryan

Birthday: 1994-12-23

Address: Suite 751 871 Lissette Throughway, West Kittie, NH 41603

Phone: +2366831109631

Job: Sales Producer

Hobby: Creative writing, Motor sports, Do it yourself, Skateboarding, Coffee roasting, Calligraphy, Stand-up comedy

Introduction: My name is Laurine Ryan, I am a adorable, fair, graceful, spotless, gorgeous, homely, cooperative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.