Adults with Autism: Psychological and Social Challenges to Well-Being

People with autism spectrum disorder represent close to 1% of the population. Adults with autism, in addition to needing better social sensitivity, need certain psychological help to improve their quality of life.
Adults with Autism: Psychological and Social Challenges to Well-Being
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

When people talk about autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it’s pretty common for them to think of the challenges and needs of the children who suffer from it. We know that early detection improves their development and quality of life. But what about autism in adults? What needs, support, and strategies does a grown man or woman with this neurobiological condition have?

Since scientists improved the diagnostic criteria in the 1990s, it’s not only possible to identify children with ASD in schools. Many adults were also able to find explanations for their behavior. Finally, they found an explanation for their peculiarities and the origin of their personal limitations. One thing is clear: this is a disorder with a very broad spectrum of characteristics and needs.

Some people have Rett syndrome; others have Asperger’s (although this term has officially been retired). Adults with autism can be highly functional. They can also present with high dependency and severe communicative limits, problems with social interactions, and repetitive behaviors. Whatever the symptoms, you must understand something. Psychological attention, social assistance, and the right to inclusion are all essential to their care. Adults with this condition is a reality that should be visible in order to guarantee the answers they may need. Only in this way will they reach the level of well-being that all people deserve.

Statistics show that close to 1% of the population has autism spectrum disorder. Also, that early detection and sufficient psychological support can improve the future of this wide collection in our society.

Blocks on paper spelling out the word "autism".

Adults with autism: what are their needs?

It’s important to know that adults with autism haven’t been well-understood or studied. In fact, they’ve been neglected. Fortunately, scientists have shown more interest in this area over the past few years. Now, the scientific community has more statistics, more resources, and more knowledge.

This all leads to one main goal: giving individualized and expert attention to each person according to their needs. However, there’s a problem with clinical practice. Many adults who are highly functional don’t know they have the condition.

These are independent people with job responsibilities and major projects who sometimes feel that something in them is failing. Indeed, problems with social interaction, hypersensitivity to stimulation and anxiety tend to seriously limit their quality of life. It’s also important to know that no two people with ASD present the exact same characteristics.

Nevertheless, and beyond the uniqueness of each person’s case, autism in adults interferes with daily life. Detection and early personalized therapy can guarantee changes, improvements, and well-being.

Let’s look at some special challenges and types of help they require.

Consulting with psychology experts in ASD

If you have an adult family member with autism or suspect that you might on the spectrum, the best thing to do is to consult an expert in the field. What can a trained psychologist do for you?

  • Firstly, they’ll evaluate the patient to identify both the strengths and cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of the adult with autism.
  • Also, a therapist will conduct interviews with those in the patient’s day-to-day life.
  • They’ll run some tests to rule out other conditions.
Therapy is a great first step for treating adults with autism.

Adults with autism and types of therapy

Psychological intervention in an adult with autism will always depend on their particular needs. Therapists typically help patients work on these aspects:

  • Firstly, to practice communication training and social abilities.
  • Treatment helps them develop good daily life habits.
  • Psychologists help them modify certain behaviors to help with group integration, well-being, and social behavior.
  • Also, patients practice functional routines so that adults with autism can gain more security and autonomy.
  • They get help in joining the labor force.
  • It’s also essential to help with things such as anxiety or mood disorders such as depression. This type of disorder often means that patients must face several different emotional challenges. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is very useful in these cases.
  • Likewise, individual psychotherapy is also key. A man or woman with ASD needs to improve their romantic, family, or work-related relationships.
  • Finally, some adults with autism have more serious cognitive problems. They might have behavioral problems that require psychological support.

Family support and the local environment

Last but not least, discussing adults with autism must include consideration of their family environment. Fathers, mothers, partners, children… knowing how to act or simply understanding the disorder is an important step in improving the lives of patients.

In conclusion, psychologists represent important daily support. They can also help eradicate fears, doubts, anxiety, and stress. Essentially, the personal reality of this large collection in our society is complex and unique. Thankfully, resources, strategies, and experts can help facilitate, little by little, a better quality of life.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.