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7 Signs of autism in adults that you may be overlooking

Signs of autism in adults 

One of the most common challenges in diagnosing adults with autism is that many autistic traits are not exclusive to those with the disorder and can be found in the general population of adults. If you know someone who exhibits two or more of these signs, there’s a good chance that person has an undiagnosed form of autism, but if you know someone who displays four or more of these characteristics, that person likely has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

7 Signs of autism in adults that you may be overlooking

Here are seven signs of autism in adults that you may be overlooking.

1) Inability to make eye contact

One of the most common symptoms of autism is problems with making eye contact. This can make it hard for people with autism to connect with others and can also lead to feeling misunderstood or alone. Autism symptoms can vary from person to person, but if you notice someone having trouble making eye contact, it could be a sign of autism. 

They might have other difficulties with language as well such as trouble speaking clearly, asking questions about words they don't know or understanding what is being said to them. This difficulty communicating can sometimes manifest itself in forms like avoiding interactions, becoming very upset when not understood, or trying to say something important but not being able to get their point across. 

It's important to remember that every person on the spectrum has different symptoms and levels of severity so there are many different variations on how communication may be affected. For example, some people with autism might speak very loudly because they're scared that no one will hear them otherwise while others might barely say anything at all. 

If you're wondering whether someone you know has autism, try paying attention to how they interact socially (especially face-to-face) and whether they have any difficulty communicating (either verbally or nonverbally).

2) Repetitive behavior

Do you know the signs of autism in adults? According to the CDC, about one in 59 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). But what about ASD in adults? Just because someone didn’t receive a diagnosis as a child, doesn’t mean they don’t have ASD. The fact is, a lot of people with ASD are not diagnosed until they reach adulthood. Here are eight signs of autism in adults that you may be overlooking 

  • Social skills problems: Having trouble reading other people’s emotions or communicating well with others can signal an issue. 
  • Cognitive differences: Adults with ASD often think differently and can have a hard time multitasking or switching gears between tasks. 
  • A strong preference for sameness: People who are on the autism spectrum often do things the same way over and over again and feel uneasy when things change or become more complicated. 
  • Clumsiness: Handwriting problems, spilling things, getting bumped into easily, running into things, and tripping all suggest an issue may exist. 
  • Taking things literally: When someone says jump, it could take them much longer than most people to process that instruction and follow through.
  • Lack of eye contact: Eye contact can give people clues about where we are focusing our attention, but some autistic individuals avoid making eye contact because it makes them uncomfortable. 
  • Focus on detail: For example, an autistic person might notice every flaw in your outfit before he even greets you. 
  • Repetitive behaviors: What seems like obsessive-compulsive behavior might actually be stimming, motor movements, and vocalizations such as rocking back and forth or hand flapping that help regulate the nervous system. 
  • Social anxiety: An individual might experience anxiety from being around unfamiliar people or large groups which can make their social challenges worse. Many people on the autism spectrum also struggle with depression and feelings of isolation. 

If you're concerned that you or someone close to you has symptoms of ASD, speak to a doctor right away! Treatment at the earliest possible point leads to better success rates.

3) Difficulty communicating

If you know someone who struggles to communicate effectively, it could be a sign of autism. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause difficulties with social interaction and communication. ASD can also cause repetitive behaviors and interests. While ASD can be diagnosed in childhood, many people with ASD are not diagnosed until they are adults.

Here are seven signs of ASD in adults that you may be overlooking:

  • Difficulty communicating: The symptoms of ASD are difficulties communicating verbally or nonverbally. 
  • Repetitive behaviors: Repetitive motions such as rocking back and forth or flapping one's hands are often associated with ASD. 
  • Difficulty taking care of oneself: Adults with autism often have trouble maintaining personal hygiene, cooking meals, or dressing, appropriately for the weather. 
  • Lack of interest in friendships: People with autism tend to lack interest in developing friendships or romantic relationships because they find it difficult to understand social cues such as body language, facial expressions, and vocal tones. 
  • Inability to handle changes: Changes in routine can cause high levels of anxiety for those living with autism because they struggle to adjust quickly and efficiently. Even small changes such as an outfit being dirty or spilled milk can send them into an emotional spiral.
  • Lack of eye contact: Another sign of ASD is difficulty making eye contact when talking to others, which may make others believe they are being rude. 
  • Over sensitivity to noise: Because individuals with autism often rely on sensory input to process information, loud noises can overwhelm them and make it hard for them to focus on other tasks. For this reason, some of the most popular occupations for people with autism are sound engineer, mathematician, and graphic designer.

4) Clumsiness

Do you sometimes feel like you're a klutz? Do you drop things more often than other people? Do you trip over your own feet? If so, it could be a sign of autism. You see, developmental disorders can manifest themselves differently in different people. For some, they may have difficulty with fine motor skills (clumsiness), while others might have an impaired sense of balance or depth perception (impaired balance and depth perception). It's not uncommon for some to also have an impaired sense of time and direction (impaired sense of time and direction). Have you ever found yourself lost in a new environment or place? Is your sense of direction lacking when traveling on the road? Are you unable to predict how long it will take to get somewhere or return home from work? All these are common signs of autism too. If any of these sounds familiar, don't wait another day before getting help! Call now!

5) Sensory issues

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that can cause a range of social, behavioral, and communication challenges. Sensory issues are common in people with ASD. This means they may be hypersensitive to certain sounds, tastes, smells, textures, and lights. Those with mental disabilities also have trouble processing data from their senses. This can make everyday activities overwhelming and challenging.

Here are seven signs that you may be overlooking in an adult with ASD.

1. Difficulty understanding others’ thoughts and feelings: People with ASD often have difficulty reading other people’s thoughts or feelings. It may take them longer than usual to realize when someone has hurt their feelings or might be feeling sad or angry about something. 

2. Fewer interests: Those on the autism spectrum usually have less diverse interests than others do. For example, they might only like one type of movie genre or animal instead of all different types. 

3. Avoiding eye contact: Another sign of autism in adults is avoidance of eye contact when talking to someone else- especially if it’s just one person! You may notice this while they're talking, or while they're telling a story to someone else. 

4. Losing skills over time: Children with autism develop skills as they grow up and learn new things. Adults who were diagnosed later in life tend to lose these skills over time because there's not as much opportunity for them to use them. 

5. Focusing more on what's happening now than future plans: Adults with ASD often don't focus as much on the future or plan ahead as those without the condition would typically do. In some cases, this means forgetting important tasks like paying bills or remembering to get groceries before going out for the day. 

6. Making inferences about other people's emotions: Those with ASD may not understand how someone feels by observing their behavior, so they will try to guess based on context clues like the tone of voice or body language. 

7. Getting caught up in details: The final sign that you might be overlooking is getting caught up in details and focusing too much on tiny details rather than looking at the big picture. Someone with ASD might worry about small details like what color the dishes should be when everyone else is focused on dinner being ready. 

These six signs of autism in adults are just some examples that might lead you to suspect someone has ASDs; but sometimes, symptoms vary widely among individuals.

6) Anxiety/depression

Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions that frequently co-occur. And while they can both be manageable with treatment, they can also be difficult to cope with on a day-to-day basis. For people with autism, anxiety, and depression can be even more challenging to deal with because the symptoms of autism can exacerbate the symptoms of these conditions.

Here are seven signs of anxiety and depression in adults with autism that you may be overlooking:

1) An intense fear of new situations or going out in public: Some people might not realize that this is actually a symptom of anxiety, but for many individuals with autism, it is quite normal for them to feel uneasy about going out into the world. They don't know what to expect when they enter new environments and it's hard for them to figure out how other people will react to them. 

2) Self-harming behaviors: One way some people try to deal with their anxiety is by self-harming or engaging in compulsive behaviors like nail biting. These are usually done as a way to release some tension from their body, but they're still counterproductive ways of coping with the root cause of their stress. 

3) A need for routines and rituals: People with autism often have specific routines and rituals which help them regulate their emotions. It can be very difficult for them to adapt if someone starts breaking those habits. Sometimes this happens unintentionally and the person who has autism feels like they've been abandoned, left without any stability in their life. 

4) Feeling constantly anxious: If an individual doesn't have a lot of downtime between activities, it becomes very easy for them to feel overwhelmed. The next time you notice your loved one seeming overly stressed, take a step back and ask yourself if there are too many demands being placed on them at once. 

5) Depression: Not all symptoms of depression are outwardly expressed so it can be harder to tell if someone is experiencing depression. That said, people with autism tend to experience depression differently than neurotypical people and that means there could be warning signs your loved one isn't aware of. Signs include thoughts of suicide or general hopelessness. They may exhibit feelings of worthlessness or guilt, struggle to make decisions, or show no interest in hobbies they used to enjoy. 

6) Intense emotional responses: Sometimes anger or frustration can be misinterpreted as aggression by others. But if your loved one gets triggered by something like a certain color of clothing, bright lights, certain words, etc., then you need to understand why they might get upset so easily and do whatever you can to avoid triggering them unnecessarily. 

7) Distant moods: If someone is withdrawn from the rest of the world and no longer wants social contact outside their immediate family members, this could mean that they are struggling emotionally and socially.

7) Compulsive obsessions and/or compulsions

1. A need for a strict routine and resistance to change.

2. Repetitive body movements or stimming.

3. Unusual sensitivities to sound, touch, taste, smell, or light.

4. Poor eye contact or difficulty reading social cues.

5. Challenges with back-and-forth conversation.

6. Monologues instead of dialogue.

7. Difficulty understanding sarcasm or jokes 8. Inability to filter out background noise 

9. Intense focus on one subject. 

10. Easily frustrated by small changes. 

11. Stereotyped behavior, such as hand flapping or unusual repetitive motions.

12. Persistent difficulties mastering basic tasks (such as tying shoes).

13. Difficulties understanding others' feelings, particularly emotions like anger or sadness.

14. Preoccupation with certain objects.

15. Delayed language development.

16. Lack of imagination.

17. Impaired verbal communication.

18. Slow processing speed.

19. Resistance to change.

20 Difficulties adjusting to new situations.

21. Sensitivity to intense sensory input.

22. Weak central coherence.

23. Impairments in executive functioning.

24 Abnormal brain activity.

25 Possible seizures 

It's not just kids who have obsessions, some adults have compulsions too. For example, someone might have an extreme need for order and rules or spend hours each day repeating the same action over and over again (a so-called stimming behavior).

If you find yourself constantly having to do things in a specific way or being unable to stop doing something even though it's causing problems, these could be signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).


If you think you or someone you know may be on the autism spectrum, it's important to seek professional help. A diagnosis can bring much-needed clarity and peace of mind, not to mention access to vital resources and support. Here are seven signs of autism in adults that you may be overlooking

• Lack of eye contact when speaking, and difficulty with transitions. 

• Resistance to change. 

• Sensory sensitivities (i.e., light, sound). 

• Unusual behaviors (i.e., rocking back and forth), and problems with understanding others' feelings. 

• Difficulties taking care of themselves, as well as other difficulties with self-care (i.e., brushing teeth, hair, dressing appropriately for weather).

• Finding social situations overwhelming, and difficult navigating environments that have any kind of sensory overload (like too many people talking at once). 

• Speaking fluently but not articulately (i.e., lacking emotion behind their words).

The causes of autism in adults are unknown and are believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is no cure for autism, but there are treatments available if diagnosed early enough.

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