Autism is a neuro-developmental condition which affects how the brain processes information. This is a neurodevelopmental issue, not a mainstream mental health affliction. Autistic people have a wide range of strengths, weaknesses, skills and challenges.
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.
- Some sensory and obsessional challenges
Every adult presents differently, moderated by brain maturation and life experiences. If not managed appropriately, this problem could have lifelong ramifications involving career and interpersonal domains. Hence, diagnosis is essential to improve awareness and individual acceptance.
Although Autism cannot be cured, appropriate intervention and support can help people develop adequate life skills and coping strategies. Social skills support can assist autistic people in understanding how to read the different expectations of social situations, including body language.
Counselling or psychological therapy can help autistic people better understand and regulate their emotions.
Aspergers Syndrome now comes under the single umbrella term of Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autism). In 2013 the diagnostic criteria for Autism and Asperger Syndrome changed. What was previously diagnosed as Asperger Syndrome is now diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). All our manuals have adopted this modification.
Symptoms of Autism
More males than females are diagnosed with Autism (although there is mounting evidence to suggest girls and women are usually underdiagnosed). Men and women can present to medical professionals with this issue differently. Life experiences often modify the manifestation of this ailment, making diagnosis and recognition difficult.
Every autistic person is different, but some of the more common characteristics include:
- Difficulties with high-level language skills such as verbal reasoning, problem solving, making inferences and predictions
- Problems with understanding another persons’ point of view
- Difficulties initiating social interactions and maintaining an interaction
- May not respond in the way expected in a social interaction
- A preference for routines and schedules – disruption of a routine can result in stress or anxiety
- Specialised fields of interest or hobbies.
- Sensory difficulties
Diagnosis of Autism in adults
It is not unusual for autistic people to have reached adulthood without a diagnosis. This often happens, depending on a multitude of internal and external factors. Environmental influences usually moderate the manifestation of this ailment.
Sometimes people will read some information or see something about Autism which makes them think, ‘That sounds like me.’ They may then choose to talk to a health professional for a diagnosis, or they may not.
You may choose to seek an Autism diagnosis if:
- You have been diagnosed with a mental health condition or intellectual disability during childhood or adolescence, but feel you may have Autism
- You have struggled with feeling socially isolated and different
- Your child or other family member has been diagnosed with Autism, and some of the characteristics of Autism sound familiar to you.
If you wish to seek an assessment for Autism, you can:
- Talk to a Psychologist with experience in evaluation and diagnosis of Autism
- Talk to your GP
- Seek a referral to a Psychologist or Psychiatrist with experience in assessing and diagnosing Autism in adults from your GP.
A Psychologist or Psychiatrist with experience in assessing and diagnosing Autism will ask you about your childhood and experiences at school and as an adult. They may also do some psychological or psychiatric testing. This helps in formalising a diagnosis much more quickly, and is recommended.
A Speech Pathologist (also known as a Speech Therapist) may also be consulted to assess your social communication skills.
All of this information will be used to help make a diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with Autism, you may feel relieved to know why you feel or behave the way you do. A diagnosis may also help you and your family to understand and cope with the challenges you face.
Autism and understanding the emotions of other people
An autistic person may find it hard to understand other peoples’ emotions. Emotions are interpreted by subtle messages, facial expressions, eye contact, and body language. These are often missed or misinterpreted by an autistic person. Because of this, autistic people may be mistakenly perceived as being rude or unfeeling.
Autistic people may find it difficult to understand how others perceive their behaviour.
If this relates to you, please consider a referral to a Psychologist or Psychiatrist from your GP.
What is Neurodiversity?
This is a term coined by Judy Singer, an Australian Sociologist in the 1990s. What it could mean is:
“Neurodiversity refers to the virtually infinite neuro-cognitive variability within Earths’ human population. It points to the fact that every human has a unique nervous system with a unique combination of abilities and needs.” Neurodiversity is a subset of Biodiversity, a term primarily used to advocate for species conservation.
At MARSAI Clinic:
At our clinic, we respect neurodiversity, as we see strong evidence of this aspect in our clients, making them unique and valuable in their own ways to society. We believe every individual is unique, and their manifestations need to be accepted as they are. Adults with ADHD, ASD, Dyslexia, and learning difficulties all are neurodiverse and unique. They form a large proportion of our disability sector, as evidenced by a recent study by NDIS.
Dr Guha believes neurodiversity is part of an executive function related spectrum with linkages specific to the frontal lobe. He is dedicated to finding ways to explore these linkages and find ways to support our unique clients.
Dr Guha also uses active psychological tools and assessments to delineate your exact issues. You may be referred to our in-house Psychologist for a thorough evaluation before your first consult with Dr Guha. This assists immensely in scoping your neurodiversity and coming to a diagnosis which leads to robust and accurate treatment.
If you are referred to our in-house Psychologist for screening assessment, there may be special requirements for you to complete. You will be contacted for this and informed about the process.
Please keep a close eye on your email as this is our main method of communication.
It may be beneficial to bring the following to your first appointment or to send to us prior:
Any information about Childhood ASD or ADHD from Specialists or Psychologists (if you were treated as a child)
Close family member to assist in the process
School reports or other reports which may show issues with functioning if you have not already provided these
Any other reports which may assist your diagnosis
Please watch this relevant Video (authored by Dr Guha):
Adult ASD Tips for Diagnosis and Management
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), 2013, American Psychiatric Association.
Partners of people with autism or Asperger syndrome, 2018, The National Autistic Society UK.
Goodall E 2016, The Autism Spectrum Guide to Sexuality and Relationships, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, UK.
Attwood, T 2003, The complete guide to Asperger’s syndrome, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, UK.