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How to Live with Adult Autism

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 7/21/2010

Adult autism can be a difficult thing to live with, whether you're the person who has it or you live with someone who does. Use these tips to make dealing with adult autism a bit more enjoyable.

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    What is Adult Autism?

    Adult autism is similar to autism found in children. People who are on the autism spectrum tend to have social difficulties that can lead to problems in their personal or professional life. Adults with autism are usually able to function very well in their profession, but the lack of social skills may cause issues for them none the less. The cause for autism is not yet known though there are several speculations that it stems from additives in foods and vaccinations. Read on to learn some adult autism tips that may prove useful for you.

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    Adult Autism Tips

    It can be exhausting to be the one who loves someone with autism, but they should keep in mind that it may be just as exhausting for the person that has autism. Those with this disorder have difficulty empathizing and reading body language, making it hard for them to meet the needs of those they love. In turn, they also have difficulty expressing and defining their own feelings and needs, placing a tremendous strain on the relationship. The tips below are aimed at helping those with autism and those who love someone with this disorder to develop a system so that the needs of both people can be met.

    • Stick to a schedule. One of the hardest facets of this disorder is dealing with change. Routine is the backbone of their stability. Changes are so difficult that one deviation in the routine can ruin the entire day.
    • Define specific needs. Those who live with someone who has this disorder may tend to feel that their own needs are not being met. It's not from lack of effort from the afflicted person. It's truly from lack of awareness. The inability to read body language leads to a lack of accessing needs. If the needs are defined explicitly then the other person has something to work with.
    • Demonstrate emotions. To assist the person with autism to understand how another person feels, emotions should be defined as explicitly as "When I look like this, I am feeling (insert emotion)". The person who has adult autism also has the responsibility of letting their partner know that they are struggling to understand them.
    • Try to be understanding. Those with autism can tend to get lost in their specific activities. This is calming to them. What their loved ones need to understand is that this is something they feel the need to do, not a way to simply escape from the loved ones.
    • Develop a social routine. Someone with adult autism may tend to say things that are a bit "off key" or want to avoid social contact altogether. Again, this is no reflection on anyone but is simply a part of being autistic. People who have autism also tend to need more private time than other people. If the partner of the person with autism feels the need to be more social than their partner, they might consider developing a routine that consists of the partner going out for socialization to meet their social needs and at the same time giving the partner with autism some time to be alone.

    References: Autism Society of America