The signs of autism in adults are varied. Autism is an umbrella term used to describe a range of pervasive developmental disorders. Because autism affects brain function, it creates communication problems and difficulties in social interaction. Autism typically appears during the first three years of life and affects boys four times more often than girls. People with autism generally have marked difficulties in three areas: social interaction, communication and interests. They have difficulties in relating to others, and they isolate themselves, with a dislike for group interaction.
One of the more severe signs of autism in adults is the inability to carry out day to day tasks and activities. Many adults may be unable to live unassisted, requiring the constant presence of a relative or caregiver. Some adults may be able to live at home with their families, while others live in supervised homes with other autistic people. Many adults with autism tend to be reclusive. They have difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships. They do not seek out friendships or engage in social interaction.
Lack of empathy is another sign of autism. This can make adults with autism seem cold and uncaring, but this is one of the most common symptoms of the syndrome. Some autistic adults might have a specific obsession. This might be with an object, or a fixation. This is also not uncommon, and the autistic adult may become very upset if this pattern is broken or interrupted in some way.
Social interaction can often cause a great deal of anxiety. One of the most common signs of autism is a rejection of social situations. Unfamiliar situations can be frightening for the adult and panic often sets in. Anger is another emotion that might be shown, and this behaviour can become uncontrollable quite quickly. Adults with very severe autism may be completely incapable of looking after themselves. This can mean that eating, bathing and other hygiene issues will need to be managed by a caregiver. Although very stressful, these intense types of autism are generally not the norm.
Aspergers syndrome is often diagnosed later, when the child reaches school age, or later on in adolescence or adulthood. Signs of Aspergers in adults can be less obvious than signs of autism. Although it is a lifelong syndrome, Aspergers symptoms tend to become more stable with maturity, and improvements in the conditions are quite possible. Adults with Aspergers usually develop a better understanding of their abilities, and they are more aware of social cues, such as body language.
Aspergers in adults does not automatically mean a life of solitude, many people with Aspergers marry and have children. People with Aspergers can study and have successful careers as focus and attention to detail are traits that are typical of the syndrome. People with Aspergers tend to do well in engineering, science and technology careers.