Do autistic traits get worse into adulthood?

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L_Holmes
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20 Nov 2014, 11:09 pm

As a little kid I had a lot of the common issues related to autism, like frequent meltdowns, being very withdrawn and socially unaware, sensory issues etc. I had a lot of disciplinary problems at school as a result (they thought I was just misbehaving), though I did great academically. After 5th grade I started improving as far as meltdowns, social problems and such. I still was definitely not at a normal level, but enough to pass as normal to those who didn't know me. I continued to slowly improve after that.

At least until I went to university. I was totally unprepared and had no idea how hard it would be for me there. That had to be the worst year of my life, with the previous year, my senior year in high school, being a close second. I totally broke down for the last few months I was there, and I only ever left my dorm for food. My final GPA was 0.2, because I didn't go to my classes due to being very overwhelmed and depressed.

I have not recovered from those 2 years. It's been 7 months since then, and I am a lot more prone to feeling depressed, and it seems like all of my autistic traits have been magnified. Even my sensory issues. I am more prone to meltdowns and shutdowns as a result. I can't take nearly as much social interaction as I used to be able to, and I get flustered a lot when talking to people I don't know. I am even more into my special interests (which is saying a lot). I could go on and on.

But I'm wondering, is this common? I didn't feel all that different before this, and now I'm basically my childhood self again, but with more knowledge. Not that I think it's really terrible or anything, but it does seem weird to me, as it's such an extreme change and it seems permanent.


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whatamess
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20 Nov 2014, 11:16 pm

I don't think they actually get worse, I think we become ourselves. In a way, while at home, we are always told what to do, where to go, etc?we somewhat understand we do not have a choice and just do things on automatic pilot. As we become more independent, we are able to stay away from things that bother us and that is when we start realizing how MUCH those things actually bother us. It's like someone who has always been rich, all of a sudden becomes poor and they learn to understand how hard it is to be poor and how easy they had it while being rich?but if you are always rich, you don't really realize how easy it is (PS not saying rich don't have their own issues :-) ) And with that, as we get older and WE control what we do and where we go, we become more aware of how much the craziness around us actually bothers us. Anyway, that's how it seems it has manifested in my life.



auntblabby
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20 Nov 2014, 11:21 pm

I have not appreciably improved in my symptoms, but I have learned a few workarounds.



animalcrackers
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20 Nov 2014, 11:35 pm

I think that stress makes it harder to cope, which means that problematic traits and issues will be even more problematic.

I also think that the demands of life are raised higher during adulthood, and that it happens very quickly in your late teens and early twenties -- so if you're already behind and moving slower than everyone else (or will never reach the same levels in certain areas) it may seem like you're getting worse when really you just aren't improving fast enough to catch up or that the gap between your skills and other people's skills has become larger and more obvious even though nothing about you has changed.

That's been my experience, anyways.


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L_Holmes
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20 Nov 2014, 11:41 pm

animalcrackers wrote:
I think that stress makes it harder to cope, which means that problematic traits and issues will be even more problematic.

I also think that the demands of life are raised higher during adulthood, and that it happens very quickly in your late teens and early twenties -- so if you're already behind and moving slower than everyone else (or will never reach the same levels in certain areas) it may seem like you're getting worse when really you just aren't improving fast enough to catch up or that the gap between your skills and other people's skills has become larger and more obvious even though nothing about you has changed.

That's been my experience, anyways.


This makes more sense. I've always felt a year or two behind my peers in pretty much every way except intelligence. It feels like that gap has widened even more now. Even my little brother who is 1.5 years younger than me already seems to be more mature than I am in a lot of ways (socially, emotionally etc.) :|


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auntblabby
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20 Nov 2014, 11:47 pm

L_Holmes wrote:
Even my little brother who is 1.5 years younger than me already seems to be more mature than I am in a lot of ways (socially, emotionally etc.) :|

that is tough. I'd have difficulties dealing with that. I experienced that in the army, the younger troops were much more mature than me.



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21 Nov 2014, 12:12 am

whatamess wrote:
I don't think they actually get worse, I think we become ourselves. In a way, while at home, we are always told what to do, where to go, etc?we somewhat understand we do not have a choice and just do things on automatic pilot. As we become more independent, we are able to stay away from things that bother us and that is when we start realizing how MUCH those things actually bother us.


I agree with this, it's been the same way for me.

L_Holmes wrote:
At least until I went to university. I was totally unprepared and had no idea how hard it would be for me there.


I was totally unprepared for it too. If I had known, I would have put it off for a year, or just made other plans altogether. I dropped out middle of my third semester. And after that I was just in shock from it and depressed for a year or two.



DevilKisses
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21 Nov 2014, 12:14 am

I think stress and illness can make your symptoms worse. Even your sensory issues. I've been sick lately and my sensory issues have been way worse. As I'm recovering my sensory issues are going away. During the summer you could go on a raw diet for a month. It really helped me out, but it's very hard to go longer than a month.


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Kitty4670
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21 Nov 2014, 1:57 am

Can Asperger & Cerebral Palsy make it very hard for you? I didn't have major problems when I was a child. I started having mental breakdowns when I was a teenager. I'm 44 now & alot more things are happening.



LoveforLoki
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21 Nov 2014, 3:56 am

For me, my sensory issues have magnified by ten fold. I have serious trouble to bear simple noises, light, textures, and smells.


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Zajie
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21 Nov 2014, 4:25 am

Yes because I noticed that when I was very young I used to be more 'autistic' but then I started becoming more normal for a few years after that I started becoming more 'autistic' again which is still continuing until now



auntblabby
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21 Nov 2014, 4:37 am

wrong planet helped me to be come more social and a teeny weeeny bit more adroit.



Andrejake
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21 Nov 2014, 5:38 am

I think the general answer is yes and the reason is the ones already stated by people here.
It's not as simple as "autism getting worse" but (in my opinion) is a mix of two facts:
- One is that a lot of us become more and more aware about how our life is different as time passes by. We've met a lot of people, we see time passing and we try to fit in but end up failing a lot of times. This kind of events can cause traumas and make that "glass wall" even harder to overcome.
- The other (which is totally related to the first one) is the fact that we, as adults, a lot of times can't live in our comfort zone anymore. We need to go to university, to have jobs and sometimes we are forced to some kind of social contact/relationships and the stress that this kind of things bring can aggravate some symptoms. We try to fit and since because we are adults we can't always spend our lives doing just what we want/like and the way we want/like and because of that we start to see and actually live more consequences of being different. Some of them that we were not forced to when we were young.



Kitty4670
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21 Nov 2014, 2:37 pm

LoveforLoki wrote:
For me, my sensory issues have magnified by ten fold. I have serious trouble to bear simple noises, light, textures, and smells.



I'm the same way, if I hear too much noises, I can freak out & feel like I'm mentally crazy, I can feel like I want to scream. I live with my sister, I so wish she understood me, she have to be rigth & I'm wrong.



Toy_Soldier
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21 Nov 2014, 3:06 pm

Complicated question.

The things that create autism, as far as we know, do not worsen in time. Its not a disease in that sense.

But aspects can become more serious in time. For example episodes of depression can become chronic depression. Anxiety can become more serious. These are co-morbid conditions that are somehow likely related to autism but separate conditions in themselves.

However, the co-morbids often have treatment/medications whereas the underlying autism does not at this time. So as things develop there are things that can be done.

All in all, because of increased awareness and understanding the situation can improve slowly but surely as you age, as you figure out what works for you and what doesn't. At least that is what happens with some. One's attitude is important. All's I can say is try to keep your eye's on the goals in the distance and not the obstacles between you and them.



NeueZiel
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21 Nov 2014, 3:08 pm

For me, yes. My autism and social/emotional issues have gotten more acute with age.