How to spot autism in adults

Mar 16, 2022

If you google “am I autistic” you’ll get a bunch of tests you can take. If you scroll down and start clicking into the links all of the signs of autism are negative, yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. Autism and being autistic comes with a set of challenges but it comes with strengths too. In a previous blog “How to spot autism in adult women” I created a list of things to look out for, and I realised that there needs to be a second part to this publication as it misses our strengths. The medical model and society as a whole tends to pathologize autistic people, we are not a walking deficit, we do not need to be fixed, we aren’t broken and for parents who are seeking support there is a bright future filled with opportunity for your autistic children, nurture their interests and see them grow, this is the same for autistic adults too, we are always able to make changes in the direction of our choosing and learning your autistic at any age is a gateway to understanding yourself on a deeper level.
I recently asked my network what the positives were about being autistic and I wasn’t disappointed with their answers, I gathered their comments and used them to compile the following list.
In no particular order here are some traits that could be deemed as being autistic and yes, they are all positive qualities regardless of what you’ve been told in the past.


Hyperfocus
An intense laser like focus that means you zone out everything and everyone around you, it can be almost obsessive at times, not only does hyperfocus allow people to complete tasks in a record time, it allows people to simplify complex tasks and deliver outcomes faster than a non-autistic neurotypical person could. This can lead to thoughts of doubt over your ability, did I do it right? Did I miss things? It’s taking everyone else so much longer, I must have messed up, right? No, you’re right on track, you didn’t do it wrong, you just zoned in and did it. Hyperfocus can help you to absorb large quantities of information in a short space of time, it’s an alternate way of thinking, you’re likely to see things from a different perspective, and the tasks that you set for yourself will be met with clarity and efficiency as long as you know the process behind the task.


Pattern recognition
Some autistic people are able to plan, design and see processes in their head, they can see all the steps laid out in front of them, the steps from A – Z and a clear way of bridging the gap between the points. This can allow businesses to save time and money as autistic people do have a way of cutting out unnecessary steps in processes. We also have this ability to see patterns in things when others see only randomness.


Honest
Autistic people are generally without guile, there’s no hidden agenda, this means you don’t have to work out what we’re saying, we say what we mean and mean what we say, we’re very genuine, so when people ask for our opinions, advice or input we answer directly and this offends a lot of people, we don’t sugar coat things or shy away from the truth and people don’t always appreciate that, however we don’t really lie, if we do it’s because the truth has in the past got us into trouble so we lie because that’s what we think you want to hear, I think this is something that improves with age and as the masks come off.


Heightened Senses
Being able to experience things through our senses in a non-typical or traditional way is super common for neurodivergent brains. Some people can smell colours, textures can bring intense joy and feelings of calm, certain sounds can elevate us to a different plain of existence, being able to hear things like the electric running through the cables, knowing where the wiring is in the walls as you can hear it, knowing when your lightbulb is about to blow as it gets louder the closer to death it gets, knowing if there’s electrical appliances on in your house, or even further afield, hearing frequencies that others can’t. Being able to smell where friends and family have been that day. Some people have different spatial awareness they can feel the air displacement, some people can detect when a vehicle is near them or is about to make a dangerous manoeuvre before they do it, this has certainly saved me as I’ve been breaking well in advance of the danger being obvious.

Empathetic
Contrary to popular belief autistic people are incredibly empathetic but we show it in different ways, sometimes we feel all the feelings so deeply that we don’t know how to process them, it’s hard to identify with our emotions at the best of times. Our empathy can also be very logical, based on fairness and truth rather than emotions, we are compassionate with a sense of justice and commitment to doing the right things. When an autistic person empathises they consider what experiences they’ve had that are similar to the person they’re empathising with, then they share their story, this gains labels such as self-centred or self-absorbed, when in reality it’s logic based empathy, we’re simply showing that we understand and are applying our own lived experience to demonstrate that understanding.


Committed
Autistic people are stubborn at times, we don’t tend to give up on a task until it’s mastered, it doesn’t matter how hard the task is, it doesn’t matter how many times it takes, we do not give up, we may however need to take multiple breaks to digest and process the information whilst we learn.
And some other things….
These didn’t really fit into the above categories, so again in no particular order, here are some awesome autistic traits.
• An intense appreciation and joy of the simplest of things
• Very genuine people
• Long term memory
• Great with animals
• Creative
• Can be very in tune to their spiritual side
• Out of the box thinking
• Altruistic
• Being able to watch entire films in your head after watching them a few times, music albums are the same too.
• Reliable
• Deep thinker

• Organised
• Great leaders
• Lover of facts, as there’s no hidden agenda
• High energy
• Independent
• Funny
• Kind
• Thoughtful
• Intelligent
This is by no means a full and comprehensive list, but if you’re ticking all the boxes here it may give you another angle to view autistic traits from. If you’d like some support with your journey not only do I offer coaching to empower autistic adults and teens, but I offer a fast tracked autism assessment programme too, this programme comes with coaching after your assessment and help to fill in the paperwork before you meet with our specialist. You can find out more here.