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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Autism in adults

Autism is a lifelong condition. It causes differences in communication, social skills and behaviour.

Autism shows up in many ways. We use the term autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to describe the full range of symptoms and behaviours, from mild to extreme.

People with ASD have a wide range of challenges and strengths that can vary with age and over time.

Some people find out they have ASD as a tamaiti (child), while others may not find out until they're an adult.

We do not know exactly what causes autism. Research shows that genetic factors are important.

Symptoms of autism in adults

Common signs of autism in adults include:

Women with autism are more likely to:

Diagnosing autism in adults

If you suspect that you may have autism, you may like to take a screening test. The results aren't a diagnosis, but they may help you decide whether to seek a formal assessment.

To get a formal diagnosis of autism, you'll need a detailed assessment by a psychologist or psychiatrist. They will also need information from someone who knew you when you were younger.

If you have severe mental health difficulties, your general practice team may be able to refer you for an assessment in the public health system.

You may choose to pay to see a private psychologist or psychiatrist.

Getting help with autism

The help and support you may need will depend on your individual needs.

It may include learning more about autism and connecting with other people on the autism spectrum through support groups.

Employers, training institutes and other places may be able to help you with support, such as making the environment less stimulating, providing clearer instructions and giving you more time to complete tasks.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created May 2023.


See also:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Page reference: 1148640

Review key: HIAUD-1148640