Not everyone on the autism spectrum gets diagnosed in childhood. Many women and non-conforming genders can be misdiagnosed and not know it. Some only find out they are autistic later in life or maybe never.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has clear criteria for the diagnosis. However, clinical psychologist Carla M. Shuman says that many autistic and neurodivergent people are way more complex than what the criteria presents.

“It isn’t just people who don’t make eye contact and have trouble socialising. That’s why the DSM needs to keep evolving in the way that it builds its criteria.”

She outlines some of the following signs and symptoms:

Feeling frequently misunderstood and not knowing what you did incorrectly

People with autism frequently feel like they have unintentionally offended people. “They find themselves being misunderstood by other people,” she said.

Struggling with initiating and keeping up casual conversations

People with autism frequently have difficulties in social situations. They may also struggle to make plans or start conversations.

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Agitation if there is any diversion from routine

Shuman said that people who get angry or agitated when disruptions in the routine could also be on the spectrum, as inflexibility is a part of autism. It can make a person emotionally volatile.

Sensory issues and aversion to textures and surfaces

Shuman says that almost all autistic people struggle with sensory issues. Many of her clients get overstimulated in loud, crowded environments. Some of them also have problems with certain types of clothing or textures.

Exhaustion from trying to fit in

Sometimes, people put on a mask to try and fit in, and for people with autism, this can get pretty exhausting as they may feel overwhelmed.

“They get worn out a lot more easily. They end up losing a lot of energy because they’re trying to do stuff that is not intuitive to them,” she said. /TISG

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