Autism support for adults

Guest Blog by Jason Tucker

We regularly discuss autism in young children and how it’s important to diagnose the disorder as early on as possible. There are a lot of support services out there for the parents of children with autism, but what about those young carers who are concerned that their parents may have autism? How do they cope and how can they get support?

Diagnosing an adult with autism

Techniques for diagnosing autism have improved massively in recent times and it may have been harder to detect in previous years. If you think one of your parents may have autism, or a related condition it can be difficult to broach the subject with them. First, it is a good idea to give yourself some support from a relative or close friend. Then, before seeing a doctor, you may want to write down and detail whether you have you noticed any of the following symptoms:


Do they find it difficult to express themselves in any of the following ways?

* They find it hard to understand gestures, facial expressions or the tone of voice you use.

* They are unsure when to start or end conversations and find it hard when choosing topics to talk about.

* Using words, which are complex and that they don’t understand.

* Be quite literal or blunt e.g. they may find it hard to understand that ‘that’s cool’ doesn’t literally mean something is cold.

* They may also have difficulty understanding jokes, metaphors and sarcasm.


It is sometimes difficult for those with autism to interact socially and maintain those relationships. The points mentioned above can affect how they are socially accepted, additionally:

* They don’t pick up social etiquettes that most of us subconsciously follow.

* They may find others confusing – this will make them anxious, or perhaps become withdrawn.


There can also be difficulties with imagination in social situations. This includes:

* Finding it difficult to predict social situations and react accordingly

* Understanding and reading other people’s thoughts or actions.

* Having trouble interpreting facial expressions or subtle messages.

* Having a small range of activities that they repeat e.g. lining up objects.

There are a number of other traits that can be monitored, but it is best to get some advice from a doctor or support service as the next step.

You can go to your GP to get advice or contact a service that specialises in diagnosing autism. They can then take you through what the next steps are.

How do young people deal with an autistic parent?

Maxine Aston has written an inspiring book ‘Growing up in an Asperger family,’ it addresses how difficult it can be for a young carer to know how to handle a parent who suffers and aims to provide them with an understanding of the illness.

Maxine writes: “It is the difficulty with empathy that has the biggest impact on the parents’ inability to understand their children and to recognise that their thoughts, needs and perceptions are different to their own. In gaining more understanding of autism, you can begin to understand your parents’ difficulties and needs. You can then think about how best to communicate your own thoughts, feelings and needs so that you can have a good relationship with your parents.”

As a young carer you can’t take on everything and you also need to recognise that you need support, not just with regard to autism, but also in your own lives. There are groups for young carers, where you get the chance to meet with people going through the same things as you, enjoy activities and speak out about any issues you face.

It’s important to make time for yourselves and enlist the help of family and friends where you can. Additionally, if you’d like to speak with someone in confidence there are a number of autism support helplines.

The worst thing you can do is try to deal with this alone.