Autism in adults: How to cope and live a wholesome life

You can cope with autism by forming a fixed routine, taking out time for self care as well as getting to know your triggers. Read on to know more.
Blocks with AUTISM written on them
Autism can often go undetected in childhood, and symptoms can surface in adulthood when responsibilities are more complex. Image courtesy: Pexels
Anjuri Nayar Singh Updated: 2 Apr 2024, 08:27 pm IST
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Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that most likely happens in the beginning three years of a baby’s life. Both autistic adults and kids experience different symptoms, at different points in their lives. Some of these include difficulty in communicating with others, restricted behaviour as well as other conditions that effect proper functioning at school and workplaces.

No matter when autism is detected, it cannot be cured. However,  there are a number of ways to cope with the disorder. From forming a fixed routine to identifying your triggers, there are certain ways that help autistic people lead a meaningful life. Read on to also know how to help a loved one who has been diagnosed with autism. Living with an autistic adult needs a proper communication mechanism as well as support system.

What is autism?

A developmental and neurological disorder, autism makes people face challenges in daily life communication as well as functioning. Simple things such as inability to understand basic social cues, understand the other person’s feelings as well as facing trouble regulating your own emotions are feelings are common signs of being autistic. “Autism is a neurodivergence, which means that the brain is differently wired for the person with autism, and therefore, functions differently than the neurotypical person,” explains clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Neha Patel.

While many people with autism may be disabled, there are many who are able to live their lives fairly well when given adequate and required support and possibilities for them to cope with daily life demands. One of the main issues faced by people with autism is getting anxious easily due to the pressures and demands and expectations of living a social life.

Also Read: Autism in adults: Signs of autism spectrum disorder as you get older

How does autism go undetected in childhood?

Since symptoms of autism vary, very often a diagnosis is missed in childhood, and it is only later in a person’s life that autism is detected. If an autistic person is able to communicate properly and has age-appropriate reactions and interests, autism can be missed. This would indicate that his behaviour is not neurodivergent. This also happens as the symptoms of autism are varied. So while they might be missed in childhood, they can be seen later in life when relationships and responsibilities become more complex.

How to live with autism?

Here are some ways in which a person with autism can improve his or her quality of life.

An alarm clock
Building a routine and abiding by it helps both autistic people as well as their caregivers to live a meaningful life. Image courtesy: Pexels

1. Build a routine

Establishing a routine and sticking to it is a daily structure helps with managing anxiety and getting things done as required. A study, published by National Institute of Health, states that daily routines help enhance family rituals and helps in providing context to autistic adults and kids.

2. Indulge in Self care

Self care routines such as exercise, adequate sleep and diet, time for some kind of meditative or mindfulness activity, must be part of your daily routine. The Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) states that autistic people must indulge in self care. This can be done by avoiding overwhelming situations with the use of noise cancelling headphones or weighted blankets.

3. Focus on your strengths

A research paper, published in Autism in Adulthood, states that autistic people have many strengths such as enhanced memory, creativity as well as efficiency. Everyone has strengths and areas of interest and expertise. It is very important to work on them dedicatedly and find ways to leverage them. It is important to become competent in that area. This helps in improving self confidence and esteem and gives a sense of fulfilment.

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4. Identify your triggers

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) states that there are many factors that can trigger autistic people such as the social environment, physical disorders as well as changes in routine. It is important to become aware of your triggers and learn helpful coping techniques such as deep breathing or sensory inputs, which can help to manage the overwhelming emotions.

5. Social skills training

It helps to take professional help for improving social interaction, communication skills and self expression. The World Health Organization states that psychosocial interventions can help in better communication, which would in turn help both autistic people as well as their caregivers.

6. Seek help form the appropriate professionals

Professionals such as therapists, psychiatrists, as well as support groups; all those working for helping people with autism, will help you navigate through your challenges and provide guidance and assistance.

Also Read: How to identify autism early to avoid complications?

How to live with an autistic adult?

Living with an autistic adult comes with challenges. You need to be sensitive to their needs and understand that you will need to take care of yourself too!

Headphones over shoes
Identifying your triggers and using tools to avoid them can help autistic adults. Image courtesy: Pexels

1. Self education

First and foremost, learn all you can about Autism Spectrum Disorder. This way you will enable yourself to better understand the person’s strengths and challenges and needs and also be better equipped to handle the shortcomings and have achievable expectations. you will be able to recognise the individuals unique preferences, communication style and sensory needs.

2. Establish routines

Do this for yourself and also to help the person with autism, who you are taking care of. Establishing a proper routine, one that you follow every day, can go a long way in reducing anxiety and instilling a sense of stability.

3. Communication

Maintaining clear verbal communication, expressing your boundaries, concerns , preferences are vital. Use clear words, and instructions. Also, listen to the other person’s expectations and respect his boundaries.

4. Sensory friendly environment

Minimise sensory overload, a situation where your five senses are expected to take in much more information that what your brain can process. This can be overwhelming to the person with autism.

5. Self-care

You will only be able to support the autistic adult in your life if you are taking adequate care of yourself, your own physical and emotional wellbeing will increase your capacity for helping the other person

6. Balanced support

Provide support as required, do not become an enabler. Guide the person with autism and then allow the person to navigate their way through trial and error. Of course, support them as required while encouraging independence and autonomy.

7. Social participation

Create opportunities for social participation and engagement in activities that can align with their comfort and interest and those that will be a little challenging (in bite size portions) but will motivate them to move ahead.

8. Be patient and empathetic

This is a wonderful opportunity for you to cultivate empathy and patience by acknowledging and accepting the neurodiversity of the individual with autism.

9. Professional guidance and therapy

Definitely take the help of trained professionals from the field of autism as they will help you navigate many challenges. Take help for yourself to maintain your metal health as a caregiver.

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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