Autism At Any Age

autism at any age text overlaying image of hands holding a heart made of colorful puzzle peicesAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complicated developmental illness. It’s characterized by chronic difficulties with social communication, limited interests, and repetitive behavior. While autism is a lifelong illness, the degree of functional impairment caused by these issues differs amongst persons with autism. According to the CDC, one in every 36 kids and over 5.4 million adults are on the autism spectrum. With boys being four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. Autism symptoms are typically noticed at 18 months or younger that usually leads to an official diagnosis by age 2. However, doctors have just begun to understand that symptoms of autism in adults can differ from those in children. Which is why more adults have been diagnosed with autism in recent years. So, how do the symptoms of autism differ between children and adults?

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Autism In Infants and Toddlers

Autism signs and symptoms may be difficult to detect in this age group. But addressing the issue early will help give your child the best chance of success.  One of the most obvious indicators is a young child who does not speak by the age of two or begins to speak. But then appears to regress to a pre-vocal stage.  These children will also struggle to make eye contact with others. They rarely, if ever, initiate play with others and appear deafeningly silent when you speak to them. These children, unlike other babies and little children, do not desire to be touched or cuddled. They do not return smiles and are unlikely to respond to games that entail mirroring another’s action, such as patty-cake.

Autism In School-Age Children

This is the time when the signs and symptoms of autism are most visible. Children on the autism spectrum will not engage in pretend play.  These children never seem to master nuances like sarcasm or irony since they not only think in images. But also accept things literally.  When an autistic child is told to unwind after spinning in circles (a repetitious movement they may employ to self-soothe), they may literally start spinning in the other direction. Other self-soothing behaviors include constant rocking, watching a fan spin, or flapping one’s hands.


During this time, the inflexible personality that is characteristic of all varieties of autism manifests itself. When timetables are changed or a different route is taken to school, these children frequently get upset. They prefer their possessions to be in a specific sequence and will notice if something is moved. They may play alongside other children, but they rarely participate in group activities. Additionally, they may have an exceptional attachment to an inanimate object, such as a stuffed animal or blanket.  Touch and eye contact are still avoided. This is often because their senses appear to be heightened. And they become more readily overwhelmed when exposed to loud, vivid colors, and lights.  

Autism In Teens and Adults

By this age, your child may have learnt that avoiding making eye contact is considered impolite and has made changes. But may occasionally go to the extreme of staring.  During these latter years, the autistic signs and symptoms of inflexible behavior and social isolation are often more visible. It’s difficult to establish friends when you don’t know how to read social cues, and by the teen and adult years, many people with autism have given up trying.  


Your child may be timid, but the need for companionship might produce the opposite behavior, and he or she may become overly sociable.  The latter may speak loudly and stand too close to others, not understanding why the other person is uncomfortable. The one-track mentality persists, and rules are held virtually sacred. If rules are broken, he/she has no trouble in informing others.  Rigid devotion to routine has grown even more ingrained, and sudden change may cause annoyance or even fury.  Understanding office politics completely escapes the adult with autism, which may prohibit him or her from progressing in their employment.


Often, it is not until an individual reaches maturity that they discover they are on the autism spectrum. This is particularly common in high functioning or Aspergers individuals. Finally, the diagnosis provides spouses, significant others, and employers with information and a justification for some of the abnormal behaviors they may have observed, as well as tips on how to interact with the individual more successfully.

Types of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is the standard resource used by medical professionals in the United States to diagnose mental disorders. The DSM-5 specifies the criteria that must be met in order for a person to be diagnosed with a certain disorder. Such as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, and so on. 


Autism has varying degrees of severity, with symptoms including social and communication impairments, as well as confined or repetitive patterns of behavior. These autism levels represent the disorder’s main characteristics. Individuals with these features, however, can exhibit a wide range of symptoms associated with various forms of autism. Because of this variety, autism spectrum disorder is classified as a spectrum disorder. Furthermore, autism is divided into three unique levels to provide a more detailed knowledge of how someone experiences their individual type of autism in their daily life.

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Level 1

Level 1 autism is sometimes considered to be the least severe or mildest form of autism. Although there is no single set of qualities that someone with level 1 autism might have, there are some similar traits and experiences that people with this autism level may have. For example, most people (children and adults) with level 1 autism are likely to be able to communicate verbally using words and more complex language, whereas those with level 3 autism may not be able to speak using words at all (though some people with level 3 autism can speak using vocal language).


People with level 1 autism frequently struggle with speech and social interactions. They may struggle with small talk or understanding social signs. They may struggle to make or keep friends (although some people with level 1 ASD may have a friend or two. Transitions associated with changing activities may be difficult or distressing for someone with level 1 autism.

Level 2 

Level 2 Autism is in the middle of the spectrum in terms of the level of assistance a person may require to function more independently and productively in daily life. When it comes to level 2 autism diagnostic criteria, a person is stated to need “substantial support.” A person with level 2 autism requires more assistance or accommodations than someone with level 1 autism. They also frequently have more communication and social challenges than a person with level 1 autism. 


A person with level 2 autism may exhibit more obvious stimming activities (also known as confined or repetitive behaviors). Stimming actions are not something to be ashamed of, however it is important to remember that in some settings, some stimming habits might have a negative impact on one’s quality of life. For example, if someone’s stimming habit includes skin plucking, this could be harmful to the person’s health. It could also have a detrimental impact on work completion (if the person is focused on skin picking rather than executing important chores), as well as on relationships or social encounters. 


Skin picking, on the other hand, may be related to self-regulation and a coping activity for anxiety or discomfort, so it is critical that anyone assisting the person with autism understands the function of skin picking and is compassionate in their approach to helping the person address their stimming behaviors. Stimming behaviors should be addressed in ways that benefit the person with autism.

Level 3 

The DSM-5 considers someone with level 3 autism to “require very substantial support.” This means that the individual would benefit from extra help and accommodations in their everyday life – at home, school, work, in the community, in relationships, and so on – in order to operate independently and productively. People with level 3 autism may or may not use verbal communication (but some do). They may exhibit extremely difficult behaviors such as frequent meltdowns, violence, or self-harm. They may exhibit more frequent and intense stimming behaviors. Someone with level 3 may struggle to understand others. When compared to those with level 1 or level 2 autism, someone with level 3 autism may require significantly more monitoring even as an adolescent or adult.


While there is no “cure” for autism, there are some effective methods that can help them function better.


  • Applied behavioral analysis – This entails a comprehensive examination of the person’s functional issues in order to develop a structured behavioral plan for developing adaptive abilities and lowering inappropriate behavior.
  • Social skills training – This type of therapy, delivered in either group or individual settings, assists people with autism in improving their ability to navigate social situations.
  • Speech and language therapy – Working with a speech coach can help those with difficulty speaking develop speech patterns and further understand language in general
  • Occupational therapy – It can help the person work on adaptive skills with daily tasks as well as issues with handwriting.
  • Parent management training – Will help parents learn effective methods for dealing with troublesome conduct and supporting appropriate behavior in their children. Parent support groups assist parents in coping with the stresses of raising an autistic kid.
  • Special education services – Children with autism can reach their full academic potential if their school provides an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that fits their social communication difficulties, restricted interests, and repetitive habits. Special day classes for very young children are available to cover language, social, and life skills.
  • Treating co-occurring conditions – Children with autism are more likely than their peers without autism to suffer from sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression. They are also more likely to have ADHD. Autistic children may have intellectual disabilities, which must be treated. The severity of these diseases can be lessened with the right services, which include all of the above as well as psychotherapy and/or prescription treatment.

Finding Health Coverage

If you feel that you or your child may be on the autistic spectrum, it is important that you seek support so that you can learn how to live with ASD. Being insured will provide you with peace of mind. As well as the coverage you require to ensure that you can see any specialists and receive any necessary therapy. 


If you’re looking for a health insurance plan, EZ can help. We offer a large variety of health insurance plans from top-rated insurance companies in every state. Additionally, since we work with so many businesses and have access to all of the plans available in your region, we may find you a plan that saves you a significant amount of money – hundreds of dollars. Even if you do not qualify for a subsidy. There is no cost or obligation, simply free quotes on all available plans in your area. To get free immediate quotes, put your zip code in the bar below. Or call 877-670-3557 to talk with a local agent.

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About The Author:
Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.

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