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Is a Late Diagnosis of Autism Worth It?


A Late Autism Diagnosis

Autism comes with us into adulthood

A Late Autism Diagnosis

Picture this: A woman drops onto a couch and arches forward, letting out a lung full of air with immense relief. She discovers that her brain is wired differently. She discovers that she perceives, receives, and processes external stimuli and information differently. She finally understands why childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and continuing maturity have never changed her differences. So then begins a profound process of integrating her life from all perspectives. Autism doesn't disappear in puberty, adulthood, menopause, or at any other point in life. Many women experience a sense of relief when they are told they are on the autism spectrum because their enduring inquiry into themselves has, at last, a place. The social whys have a place; the sensory whys have a place; learning differences are better understood, pervasive employment struggles gain context and explanation. The list goes on. Autism is, after all, lifelong.


Sharing Our Lived Experience of Autism Worldwide

Only autistic people are on the autism spectrum

The diagnostic criteria for autism has long been geared toward boys, leaving girls going undiagnosed and autistic women misunderstood. It is not uncommon for autistic women to be misdiagnosed or to not receive an autism diagnosis until later in life, if at all. Those who formed the DSM, (which stands for The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) who don’t have this difference have made the decision that autism is an ailment, naming it Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This implies trouble, so no wonder society has preconceived ideas about it, why feelings of shame and negativity can sometimes be attached to it. Even women who are themselves autistic, fail to recognise it due to baseless ideas and certain stereotypes. Autism is a normal state of being for those who are autistic. No one can cause autism in another person. Autism is not an affliction or something to be feared, nor is it something to be cured. Being autistic does not automatically mean a lack of intellectual ability. Being autistic does not imply inferiority or superiority. Autism is a neurological difference, an intrinsic part of an individual, and although functioning levels can vary greatly, only autistic people are on the autism spectrum.

Autism in Adults

Autism is a Neurological Difference

Autism and Masking

Masking may be one of the

most significant reasons

why autistic females

have been overlooked

Autistic Women and Masking

A confirmation of autism can be invaluable, at any age

Regarding women and autism, the deprivation of a diagnosis, including the absence of an accurate diagnosis, is far from ideal. Autistic women have been particularly misunderstood due to their proficient masking abilities. Unlike many of their autistic male counterparts, autistic females are more adept at walking through life, hiding in plain sight. Masking may be one of the most significant reasons why autistic females have been overlooked and are, therefore, diagnosed later in life, if at all. Whether a formal diagnosis of autism in adulthood is worth it is a personal question. For some, the resounding answer is yes. For others, the answer may be more problematic. For instance, obtaining a formal diagnosis of autism in adulthood may not be straightforward. One may be hindered by financial barriers, geographical barriers, psychological barriers, opportunity, or struggle to find the right expert who is mindful of the camouflaging and compensatory strategies that autistic women have adopted during their lives to cope with various environs and social situations. For some, receiving a diagnosis of autism as an adult can be a distressing event, as a deep re-processing of one's life occurs. For others, a grieving period may follow. It can be difficult to confront the question, "If I had been diagnosed earlier, would my life be different?"  

The newly diagnosed autistic woman finds clarity

A confirmation of autism can be invaluable in a woman's life at any age. Frequently, the older a woman is, the more invaluable the knowledge can be. Such validation can help her be less self-critical, relieve one from the burden of struggling in the dark, and provide her with wanted connections to networks of other autistic women, where she finds a sense of belonging. With clarity around why she is who she is, she can look back to make sense of her past and she can look ahead to better plan for her future. The long-awaited knowledge can offer self-leniency, self-compassion, and self-understanding like never before. Good news like that is never unnecessary or too late.

Adult Autism Diagnosis

An autism diagnosis

is never too late

The Benefits of an Official Autism Diagnosis in Adulthood



A Diagnosis Can

Should I Pursue an Autism Diagnosis Late in Life?

Valuable Benefits Can Come From An Autism Diagnosis

Autistic women are often invisible. Regardless of one’s stage of life, an autism confirmation means coming into view for the first time, into your view, and the view of others. This kind of clarity encourages you and others to understand.  

Adult Autism Diagnosis

Prove that your challenges and needs are real

Legitimise your diagnosis going forward

Enable easier access to services

Provide self-understanding, leading to self-compassion

Reduce misunderstandings at home and work

Allow adjustments to be made to the home and work environments

Help aid daily decision-making and the execution of strategies for future situations

Shed light on past chapters of mental health, no matter how minuscule

Finally, grant the gift of the "right" diagnosis

Reduce anxiety, grow self-esteem and hope, and enrichen one's life

Allow for a change in employment or life direction/contribution

Encourage a better understanding among those closest to you 

Improve relationships in general

The Benefits of an Official Autism Diagnosis in Adulthood
Older Women on the Autism Spectrum

Re-position an individual to purpose plan for the rest of their life

An Autism Diagnosis in Adulthood  can be Life Changing
Late Autism Diagnosis in Women
Late Autism Diagnosis in Women
Late Autism Diagnosis in Women

So, You're



Late Autism Diagnosis in Women

* A formal assessment by a qualified clinician is necessary to diagnose autism.

Information & Resources For Women on the Spectrum


Clinical Psychology Practice


Diagnostic Assessment - Autism Understanding, The Junction NSW Australia

Quotes & Memes by Autistic Women
Resources/Articles about Autistic Women
Resources/Websites on Autism in Women
Resources/Videos about Autism in Women
Podcasts about Autism and Women

Do you have a formal diagnosis of autism? 

Grief on the Autism Spectrum
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