Autism: 12 Common Symptoms in Adults

Autism is a spectrum disorder characterized by differences in social communication, sensory processing, and behavior. While the symptoms and severity of autism can vary from person to person, there are common signs that may indicate its presence in adults.

Difficulty in Social Interactions

Adults with autism often face challenges in social interactions. They may struggle with understanding social cues, such as maintaining eye contact, interpreting body language, or recognizing non-verbal communication. Difficulties in initiating and maintaining conversations are also common.

Communication Challenges

Impaired communication is another prominent symptom of autism in adults. They may have trouble with verbal and non-verbal communication, finding it difficult to express their thoughts and emotions effectively. Some individuals may rely on alternative communication methods, such as sign language or assistive devices.

Repetitive Behaviors and Routines

Repetitive behaviors and adherence to routines are characteristic of autism in adults. They may engage in repetitive movements like hand-flapping, rocking, or spinning objects. Disruption of routines can cause distress and discomfort, leading to anxiety or meltdowns.

Sensory Sensitivities

Adults with autism often have heightened sensitivities to sensory stimuli. They may experience discomfort or overwhelm in response to certain sounds, textures, smells, or lights. These sensory sensitivities can impact their daily lives, making it challenging to navigate environments that are not sensory-friendly.

Difficulty with Change

Individuals with autism tend to struggle with changes in their environment or routines. They may exhibit resistance or anxiety when faced with unexpected alterations. Predictability and familiarity provide a sense of security and comfort for adults with autism.

Special Interests and Intense Focus

Adults with autism frequently develop intense interests in specific subjects or topics. They may spend significant amounts of time researching, collecting, or engaging in activities related to their interests. These focused interests can bring joy and fulfillment to their lives.

Executive Functioning Issues

Executive functioning refers to a set of cognitive processes responsible for planning, organizing, and decision-making. Many adults with autism experience difficulties in these areas. They may struggle with time management, prioritizing tasks, or organizing their thoughts.

Emotional Regulation Challenges

Emotional regulation can be challenging for adults with autism. They may have difficulty identifying and expressing their emotions appropriately. It can lead to emotional outbursts or difficulty managing stress and anxiety.

Difficulty with Empathy

Empathy, the ability to understand and share others’ emotions, can be impaired in adults with autism. They may have difficulty interpreting others’ perspectives or displaying appropriate emotional responses in social situations.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are prevalent among adults with autism. They may experience difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle. Sleep disturbances can further impact their overall well-being and daily functioning.

Anxiety and Depression

Adults with autism have a higher risk of experiencing anxiety and depression. The challenges they face in social interactions, communication, and sensory processing can contribute to feelings of isolation, frustration, and low self-esteem.


Autism in adults manifests in various ways, affecting social interactions, communication, behavior, and sensory processing. Understanding the common symptoms associated with autism can promote awareness and empathy towards individuals living with this condition. By recognizing and accommodating their unique needs, we can create a more inclusive and supportive society for everyone.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Can autism be diagnosed in adulthood? Yes, autism can be diagnosed in adulthood. However, it may require specialized assessments and evaluations by professionals experienced in diagnosing autism in adults.
  2. Are all adults with autism non-verbal? No, not all adults with autism are non-verbal. While some individuals may have communication challenges, others may develop verbal skills or rely on alternative forms of communication.
  3. Are there treatments available for adults with autism? Yes, there are various therapies and interventions available to support adults with autism. These can include behavioral therapies, social skills training, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, among others.
  4. Can adults with autism live independently? The level of independence for adults with autism can vary. Some individuals may live independently, while others may require varying levels of support and accommodations based on their specific needs.
  5. How can society support adults with autism? Society can support adults with autism by fostering inclusion, promoting understanding, and providing appropriate accommodations. This can include creating employment opportunities, accessible environments, and ensuring equal access to education and healthcare.
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