The more subtle signs of Autism
If you read the diagnostic criteria for ASD, would you identify yourself as autistic? For many neurodivergent adults, the answer is no. "Deficits in nonverbal communication" and "restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior" fit the stereotype of an autistic little boy who doesn't make eye contact while lining up his toy cars. For many individuals, especially adults who identify as female, the signs are much more subtle.
I was asked to contribute to an article focused on what ASD looks like in women who are diagnosed later in life. The anxiety in complex social settings immediately came to mind. Often we don't even realize how anxious we are because we've adopted coping techniques to navigate them. For example:
Many of the women I meet who were diagnosed later in life report that they have had trouble in social settings where they didn’t have a clearly defined role," Stanton says. "As kids, they may have cried and gone home early during sleepovers. As adults, they create a role for themselves during social gatherings, perhaps helping in the kitchen or cleaning up.