How Common Is It for Adults with Autism to Go Undiagnosed?

Applied Behavior Analysis, Autism, Bipolar & Mood Disorders

Getting diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder is relatively common. In fact, one out of every 59 children will get diagnosed with autism. This diagnosis tends to happen early in life as doctors and parents typically notice the signs at an early age. For kids on the spectrum, this means they’re able to get the therapy and treatment they need as early as possible. 

But this wasn’t always the case. Autism used to be incredibly rare and many people went their entire childhoods just feeling like they were a little different than others. Surprisingly, many adults with autism still don’t have a diagnosis. Here’s why.

Science Didn’t Recognize the Signs

Unfortunately, autism only started to become widely recognized in the last couple of decades. This is when doctors and parents started recognizing the signs more quickly and more readily sought a diagnosis in the first place.
As more people were diagnosed on the spectrum, doctors were able to compile a more exhaustive list of symptoms and better understand behavioral issues that indicate autism spectrum disorder. More importantly, parents started to feel more comfortable seeking the diagnosis and exploring treatment options.

What This Means for Adults

For adults with mild or even moderate symptoms of autism, the diagnosis may not have ever happened. Their families and friends often assumed their behaviors were nothing more than personality quirks or unique character traits. When those behaviors are easy to cover up or so mild that only the individual notices them, it’s common for others to miss the behaviors entirely.
Adults on the spectrum may have gone their entire lives believing they were just “eccentric” or otherwise different from others in their network. That doesn’t make it bad, but it does mean that some social situations could still be baffling or difficult to deal with.

What You Can Do

Adults with autism that was never formally diagnosed can still benefit from the diagnosis. It will help them better understand themselves and the things that make them uncomfortable or feel different from others in their daily lives.
Even if you’ve gone your entire life without getting diagnosed and have developed your own way of dealing with triggers, stimuli, and social situations, it never hurts to speak with a professional. You’re no more or less on the spectrum than you have been your entire life. But you can learn to better understand why your brain works differently than anyone else. When you understand the reasoning behind your actions and understand what makes you tick, you’re better able to use those differences to your advantage.

Make an Appointment
If you believe you’re one of the many adults with autism that never received a formal diagnosis as a child, schedule a consultation with our team today. We’ll help you determine where you fall on the spectrum, identify potential challenges, and help you develop the techniques to overcome them. Remember, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Autism makes you unique—it doesn’t make you lesser than anyone else. In fact, it lets you see the world in a way others can only imagine.