5 Autistic Traits in Adults

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With the right support, adults on the autism spectrum are able to live more fulfilling lives.

The “signs of mild autism in adults” are 5 traits that can be found in adults. These traits include repetitive behaviors, social difficulties, and sensory issues.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: What Is It?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental impairment brought on by variations in the brain, according to the Center for Disease Control. ASD most likely has a wide range of causes. A genetic disorder like Tuberous Sclerosis or Fragile X Syndrome is one of the recognized causes. ASD is described as “a complicated developmental syndrome with chronic issues with social communication, constrained interests, and repetitive conduct” by the American Psychiatric Association.

One of the many diverse developmental diseases is autism. It often starts before age three and lasts a lifetime. While some ASD patients show signs fairly early on, others don’t start acting differently until they are closer to two or three years old. Children often reach developmental milestones and subsequently cease learning new abilities or lose previously learned skills. Common indications like the existence of communication problems or repeated conduct are included.

ASD may be difficult to diagnose. ASD cannot be identified with a physical examination or blood test, unlike other disorders. Based on the child’s behavior and developmental stage, a healthcare practitioner may provide a formal diagnosis. Parents or other household members may request a diagnostic evaluation. The key is early diagnosis. Children who get early intervention may benefit from the necessary assistance.

As kids develop into teenagers and young adults, a doctor may be consulted. Children with ASD may also struggle with issues like depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which are more common in autistic persons. 

In minor circumstances, a diagnosis may not ever be established or may not even be required. Since they didn’t need assistance, some individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome or high functioning autism may go without an official diagnosis. Adults who have social difficulties and who have mental health issues or intellectual disabilities may question if they really have autism. 

Adults who exhibit minimal symptoms of autism may self-administer an ASD assessment tool, such as the Autism Spectrum Quotient, to learn more. While not as accurate as a thorough professional examination, these tests may nonetheless be useful in helping individuals understand their own behavior.  

See also: What are the 10 autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Signs that are Most Common?

What are the signs and symptoms of adult autism?

Numerous characteristics and symptoms that differ from person to person make up the autism spectrum. No two people with autism are the same, just as no two people are precisely same. Because of this, autism is seen as a spectrum condition. There is a variety, or spectrum, of colors seen while viewing a rainbow, and each hue has innumerable variations. The autistic spectrum also fits into this. Consider the hues and tones as representing the distinctive, specific traits that characterize each person with autism spectrum disorder  

People who have autism spectrum disorder must overcome a special set of difficulties every day. The difficulties may cause them to see the world and those around them differently than others do, which is not always the case. Adults with autism may sometimes have symptoms like those of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

Confusion and frustration may result from an autism diagnosis on both sides, but knowledge is power. Both parties may connect and communicate more effectively by being aware of the symptoms of autism and how the illness affects a person’s life. There are certain typical features of autism in adults, even if autistic personality traits and symptoms might vary from one individual with autism to another.  

These five characteristics of adults with autism spectrum disorder are typically autistic.

  1. A Preference for Alternative Communication Methods
  2. A Propensity to Adopt a Regular Routine
  3. A Challenge in Social Interactions 
  4. The Battle of Social Imagination
  5. A Strong Bond With Particular Items

1. A Preference for Alternative Communication Methods

Adults with Autism Have A Preference for Alternative Communication MethodsPeople with autism tend to prefer communicating in ways that make the most sense to them. Not usually do people without autism behave in these ways. They may not always be able to grasp the verbal and nonverbal cues that other people use to communicate. They may not be aware of all the various subtleties involved in communicating. One of the most prevalent autistic traits in adults is this. 

People with autism spectrum disorders often struggle to understand concepts like:

  • euphemisms
  • a person’s expressions
  • hand motions

Depending on the severity of the individual’s autism, several characteristics of adult autism might lead to misconceptions. A person with autism can choose to communicate by using pictures or sign language. These techniques are really easy to understand and uncomplicated. The communication gap may be closed by taking the time to explain things in detail and by learning their preferred speaking style.

The term augmented and alternative communication (AAC) refers to forms of communication that individuals use in place of or in addition to speech. Using AAC techniques like certain communication devices may help people with autism (and those without). 

In a fantastic post, Speech Pathology Graduate Programs, they propose the following top ten AAC products:

  • 5-Level Pocket Go-Talk Communication Device: With five simple buttons and five distinct levels, the Pocket GoTalk features 25 different messages. The playground or the office are both excellent places to utilize this portable gadget.  
  • For individuals who have little or no speech, the MegaBee Assisted Communication and Writing Tablet is a fantastic solution. It supports communication by pointing and blinking the eyes.  

With individuals with autism, support services like speech therapy may be quite beneficial.   

The May Institute’s ASD specialists provide advice on how to communicate with adults on the autistic spectrum.

  1. Not as a kid, but as any other adult, address him or her.
  2. Avoid using too familiar or intimate words or phrases.
  3. Speak your mind.
  4. Spend time listening.
  5. Wait for an answer if you pose a question.
  6. Give insightful comments.
  7. Avoid speaking to them as if they are not there.

These are excellent pointers for anybody who could be engaging and speaking with adults with autism. 

2. A Propensity to Adopt a Regular Routine

Adults With Autism Have A Propensity to Adopt a Regular RoutineThe urge to stick to a regular schedule is one of the most prevalent autism symptoms among adults. People with autism spectrum disorders often desire structure, and they frequently stick to the same routines.

When routines are changed or interrupted in any manner, people with autism spectrum disorder often experience far more difficulty than those without the condition.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that for autistic persons, structure implies comfort while communicating with them. Gaining their confidence by being dependable and consistent as well as by assisting them in maintaining their routines would go a long way. 

Adults with ASD might possess:

  • a set schedule for sleeping and waking
  • timetable for household chores
  • everyday activities
  • a set schedule when out and about in the neighborhood

Here is an example of this behavior in an adult with autism. When going to perform errands, they may only travel on certain highways, visit only particular shops, and have a carefully planned path they follow to collect their products once inside the store. It might be challenging to get someone to change their mind about doing something as planned, particularly if they have autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. 

Autism-related persons may endure schedule deviation and transitions with the aid of therapy and practice. Adults with autism may plan their days and create strategies by:

  • visuals
  • reminders
  • back-up plans

3. A Challenge in Social Interactions

Adults with Autisms May Have A Challenge in Social InteractionsAutism spectrum disorder patients often struggle to comprehend ideas that are not binary. They are more objective and less subjective, and they do not dwell in gray zones. Because of this, autistic individuals may find it challenging to control their moods, emotions, and social settings.

Even when there is no malice intended, it is very uncommon for an adult with autism to act in ways that others may perceive as disrespectful or careless. Many of these body language-related autistic symptoms are present. Autism symptoms may include:

  • disrespecting the privacy of others
  • avoiding human contact
  • cutting off eye contact
  • not seeking or offering support or guidance from others.

An autistic person may not fully understand the emotions of the people around them.  They can have a hard time understanding messages sent through a person’s expressions, eye contact, and body language.  

Having said that, don’t assume that because of their social awkwardness, they have a poor opinion on social interactions. Simply put, they have problems interpreting social signs. Like most individuals in general, most autistic persons take pleasure in engaging with others and taking part in social activities. Also suffering from social isolation, they want to meet new people. Their mental health may be affected by this.

Autism spectrum disorder sufferers may practice their social and communication skills by:

  • their counselor
  • a mentor
  • household members
  • in close quarters with others

It might be helpful to rehearse situations one could face in a social context by role-playing and practicing skills repeatedly. Typically, autistic symptoms are managed as part of treatment. These treatments may assist in modifying certain adult autistic behaviors so the person can enjoy social interactions more.  

Adults with certain autistic behavior can need more support. An adult with autism could need greater help with some tasks, such as:

  • getting and maintaining friends
  • Making introductions and accepting them
  • game playing
  • being requested to participate in anything
  • posing a question to a person
  • recognizing and understanding body language
  • paying a praise to someone 
  • conversing with one or more individuals

Giving people with autism the chance to interact with others often and develop social skills is highly advised and will be quite beneficial to them in the future. 

Being on the receiving end of social contact as someone who is not autistic, it is important to:

  • Be persistent
  • When required, assist in directing the discourse
  • illustrate proper ways to engage and communicate

4. The Battle of Social Imagination

Social imagination is the capacity to conjure up potential identities for other people:

  • feeling
  • thinking
  • experiencing

An essential component of social connectivity and the capacity for interpersonal interaction is the ability to infer, with some degree of accuracy, what another person is thinking or feeling in light of the current circumstance or context.

Autism is sometimes accompanied by a lack of social imagination, which makes it challenging for persons who have the disease to comprehend the actions and motives of others around them. People with autism spectrum disorders may have problems connecting to others or detecting social signals. They could have a difficult time imagining anything outside of their predetermined limitations.

Unfortunately, this autistic sign is sometimes mistaken for a lack of inventiveness. It would be incorrect to believe this since autistic individuals are often quite creative.

People with autism often struggle to understand or obey social norms because they have a hard time connecting to others.

  • thoughts
  • behaviors
  • feelings

This difficulty affects their capacity for empathy. This explains why people with autism might sometimes come across as distant. 

Similar to how social skills are developed, social imagination abilities may be strengthened by:

  • role-playing
  • play that interprets
  • experiential education

The better, the more practice. It’s crucial to remember that contemporary ASD therapy aims to lessen symptoms that interfere with everyday activities and a person’s quality of life. Each person has particular obstacles and advantages. Every therapy strategy is unique to the patient.  

5. A Strong Bond With Particular Items

Another of the most common traits of autism is A Strong Bond With Particular Items.  People with autism tend to develop attachments with certain objects, places, or activities in their lives. These can range from toys or blankets from their childhood to seemingly random things they found later in life. The connection can be building model trains or playing putt-putt golf.

Whatever the attraction, it may sometimes be rather powerful and appear more intense than a typical pastime or interest; at times, it can even approach obsession. This interest in things, locations, or activities might result in a desire to collect things and organize them in a way that suits them. 

Restrictive, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities are how the DSM-5 characterizes this symptom. Among the diagnostic standards are:

  • Repetitive or stereotyped speech: People with autism may reverse pronouns, use their own names, or make monotonous vocalizations.
  • Stereotypical or repeated motor movements: Clapping, swaying, flicking the fingers, or humming are examples of repetitive actions. Autism spectrum disorder patients may exhibit peculiar facial grimacing or aberrant posture.
  • Use of things in stereotypical or repetitive ways – People with autism may line up objects, perform repeated actions like opening and shutting doors or turning on and off lights.

Autistic individuals may get obsessed for a variety of reasons, according to an article on AutisticAspergers.com. These autism symptoms include:

  • Obsessions may help individuals deal with the uncertainties of everyday life by providing structure, order, and predictability.
  • People who struggle with social contact may utilize their unique interests as a means to strike up discussions and feel more confident in public settings.
  • Obsessions may put individuals at ease and make them joyful.
  • Learning about a certain topic or collecting objects of interest may be quite enjoyable for people.


Adults with autism, as well as those closest to them, have significant mental health issues. Those who do not have autism may learn to engage more skillfully and sympathetically with those who do by learning the features of autism in adults, how the disorder appears, and the accompanying difficulties of being on the spectrum.

I’ll leave you with these two perceptive passages from a Behavioral Scientist piece about education:

People on the autism spectrum have social inventiveness and an unorthodox social style, which is something we are beginning to understand more about than what they lack.

We should think of persons with ASD as socially creative individuals rather than as “socially uncomfortable” people who need to be “cured.” Even though they may not always do things “properly,” they always do things their way.

Jennifer Cerny

Northeastern State University offers the Master of Education degree.

Disorders of Behavior and Learning | Georgia State University

April 2021 revision


Borderline autism in adults is a term used to describe the experience of people with Asperger’s Syndrome who have not yet been diagnosed. The traits that are most common in adults with borderline autism include: social awkwardness, an inability to read body language, and difficulty understanding metaphors or sarcasm. Reference: borderline autism in adults.

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