(Inside: If you’ve been wondering if you’re autistic, you need this post with signs of autism in adults that may have been missed as children! It’s a goldmine!)
I grew up in the nineties.
It was a great time for Saturday cartoons, Tamagotchis, and Game Boy, but it wasn’t really a great time for autism awareness.
See, when I grew up, most people didn’t really know what autism was.
And when they did, they had a very specific picture in their minds:
A non-speaking autistic boy.
And I grew up an autistic girl who went undiagnosed until my early twenties because there were so many signs of autism that were missed.
So today, I’m sharing with you a few signs of autism in adults that may have been missed as children.
Plus I have a free printable with even more signs of autism in adults for you at the bottom!
Autism In Adults Signs that May Have Been Missed as Kids | Autism Signs in Adults
If you’re the parent of an autistic child, and you’re reading this list and wondering, I want you to know that you’re not alone.
There are many parents realizing they’re autistic now as adults. Some even call us the “lost generation”.
These signs are not the end-all-be-all of autism diagnosis. And I’m not a doctor or autism professional.
I’m just the parent of an autistic child that learned I was autistic as an adult.
Social Signs of Autism in Adults
You might feel like you become whoever you’re around most.
I know for me, when I’m around a certain friend I’m bubbly and LOUD because that’s how she is, and that’s how we connect.
Around another friend, I’m sarcastic and hilarious because that’s how she is.
I learned to mirror my friends social skills in order to fit in. And that’s a habit hard to break!
You may feel as though you live your life on a stage… As if your life isn’t really your own.
Someone must always be watching what you’re doing, or someone’s directed that you should do that movement even though it doesn’t feel quite natural to you.
You also might really struggle with other people breaking the rules.
Autistic people tend to have pretty black and white thinking, so things are right or wrong.
When someone does the wrong thing, seemingly on purpose, it can be really confusing and frustrating.
Sensory Signs of Autism in Adults
You may be labeled a “picky eater” and have only a few preferred foods.
Maybe you have a go-to at every restaurant. For me? Chicken alfredo or chicken strips are almost always safe, so I typically stick to that.
You might seek out deep squeezes or big hugs when you’re stressed or upset.
And you might chew, rub, or tap on things obsessively.
I chew my nails and the collar of my shirts any time I’m stressed or my mind is occupied.
You also might struggle to settle your brain and body down enough for restful sleep at night.
Whether your brain is running a million miles a minute or you feel like your body just can’t stop moving… Sleep may be hard to come by.
(PS: I recommend a weighted blanket!)
Communication Signs of Autism in Adults
You might feel uncomfortable during eye contact, and it may even be painful for you.
Maybe you constantly shift your eyes away and people tell you to look at them all the time.
You might take jokes really literally and not understand them.
This one, though, is really hit and miss.
Some autistic people love jokes and get it instantly.
For me… I understand silly jokes. I understand when there’s a clever punchline.
I don’t always understand jokes where someone lies.
Where they say something as fact, but a non-autistic person would realize they’re joking and not being serious.
You may also prefer to communicate over text or email, rather than over the phone or in person.
I know I prefer text-based communication because it allows plenty of processing time.
Behavioral Signs of Autism in Adults
You might fidget, twist your fingers, or tap certain beats repetitively.
You may struggle to adjust when plans change suddenly, even if the change is a good one.
Maybe your spouse surprises you with a dinner date, and you’re excited but also extremely stressed because it changes what you had in mind.
You also may get more or less upset at something than others deem is “appropriate”.
Maybe someone bringing your food wrong makes you very upset because it means you can’t eat with everyone else and you have to sit their awkwardly waiting.
Or maybe something big happens and you don’t get upset “enough” about it.
And really, I could go on and on all day about these autism signs.
But this blog post would get pretty long, really fast! So I’ve included even more signs in the totally free Autism Signs in Adults printable!
Click the image below and tell me a bit about yourself, and you can grab your Autism Signs in Adults printable!