What Does Autism Look Like in Adults? Common Adult Autistic Traits

Autism Look Like Adults

Wondering what are autistic traits in adults? Autism is a developmental disability which can manifest differently in adults than in children. Once you identify the common autistic traits in adults, you can seek treatment and learn to manage your symptoms in the long run.

What is Autism?

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that leads to a range of difficulties associated with behavior, nonverbal communication, speech, social skills etc. When left untreated, the disorder can adversely affect the sufferer’s ability to interact and can even impair their physical, cognitive and emotional well-being. ASD is “characterized by deficits in social communication and the presence of restricted interests and repetitive behaviors,” explains a recent 2020 study

Autistic spectrum traits in adults can severely affect the brain’s normal functioning and their ability to function socially. As common autistic traits in adults can vary greatly in severity and form, the condition is identified as a spectrum disorder. The person may also experience repetitive behaviors, obsessive interests and interpersonal communication challenges.

Early diagnosis of autistic tendencies in adults can help the sufferer manage the symptoms through effective treatment approaches, including therapies, education and support.

Common autistic traits in adults

Want to know what are autistic traits in adults? ASD can manifest differently in each sufferer. So what does undiagnosed autism look like in adults? Here are some of the main characteristic traits of ASD:

Adult male and women with autism may have inappropriate social skills and may not behave in an age-appropriate manner in social settings. Inability to decipher social norms and cues may be one of the most basic autistic spectrum traits in adults. This can not only affect their ability to pursue a career, but also impact their ability to form and maintain relationships. common autistic traits in male adults and autistic traits in adult females may wrongly send the message that they prefer to be alone. 

Although some individuals may speak normally, they may have trouble expressing themselves or understanding what others are trying to say. They may prefer using short phrases or monosyllabic words and hence, communication typically has restricted functioning. They may even speak in a loud voice with a robotic tone.

Related: 22 Symptoms and Signs of High-Functioning Autism In Adults

What does autism look like in adults?

Understanding what are autistic traits in adults can enable us to identify the most prevalent  autistic traits in adults undiagnosed and seek treatment and help. Here is a list of autistic traits in adults that can help you gain a better idea about adult autism spectrum disorder – 

1. Sensory stimuli may generate an abnormal response. 

The person may under or over react to touch, sights, sounds, tastes and smells. Studies show that adults with ASD may have “hypo- or hypersensitivity to sensory inputs.”

2. Inability to accept change. 

Adults with ASD often become temperamental or sad when dealing with change in the surroundings, relationships or life. 

3. Unusual development of skills. 

One of the most common autistic traits in adults involves splinter skills, which refers to abilities that are not connected to the purpose of the task.

4. Impressive visual processing skills

Autistic tendencies in adults often include a strong ability to process visual data and information which makes up for the lack of or poor auditory processing skills. Research reveals that individuals with ASD often show “visual fascination with lights or movement.”

List of autistic traits in adults

Still wondering what does undiagnosed autism look like in adults? Here some more common autistic traits in adults that can help you learn what are autistic traits in adults –

  • Trouble making and holding conversations
  • Distress or discomfort making or holding eye contact
  • Strong dependence of daily habits and routines
  • Speech may lack modulation or inflection 
  • Strong preference for solitude and solitary activities 
  • Difficulty understanding emotions, body language and facial expressions of others
  • Difficulty building and maintaining relationships and friendships
  • Strong interest in a specific topic
  • Highly sensitive to sensory stimuli
  • Inability to understand jokes, idioms or sarcastic comments
  • Trouble accepting change 
  • Feeling anxious in social situations
  • Emotion regulation difficulties
  • Proficient in a specific area, like mathematics
  • Repeatedly engaging in involuntary sounds and noises

Related: Can Autistic People Make Great Social Partners?

How do autistic adults behave?

When someone is trying to figure out what are autistic traits in adults, then we also need to consider the behavior of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autistic spectrum traits in adults often involve unusual behaviors. They may appear to be aloof, not interested, blunt or even rude to others without any provocation of reason. They may also take everything literally which can further complicate their ability to communicate socially.

Moreover, as they have difficulty expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings, they may also prefer to stay alone. Contrarily, a person with ASD may get too physically close to another person while interacting or may become distressed when someone invades their personal space.

One of the most common autistic traits in adults may also include atypical body movements, like jumping, spinning or flapping their arms. They may also feel distress and discomfort in moving from one activity to the other. Such behavior can also be observed when changes appear in their environment.

Here are some other signs of what does autism look like in adults –

  • Lack of facial expressions
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • May not respond when called by name
  • Lack of gestures or body language in communication
  • Engaging in repetitive behaviors
  • Obsession with arranging things in a particular way
  • Focus on planning every task carefully
  • Lack of interest in others 
  • Limited or no response of others in distress or pain
  • Difficulty understanding what others are feeling

Autism in women

Autistic traits in male adults may sometimes look different from autistic traits in adult females. One 2019 study found that although autism is “equally common” in men and women, women with autism are under-diagnosed. They experience “more lifetime sensory symptoms and fewer socio-communication difficulties than males.” Moreover, when compared to male sufferers, autistic women have been observed to be “more able to demonstrate reciprocal conversation.” They are more inclined to build friendships and have relatively usual “special interests”.

Adult women with autism also tend to hide or suppress their feelings, can deal with social situations in a better way and may tend to be calmer and softer than men with ASD. Hence, it is often harder to identify what are autistic traits in adults, especially for women. 

Related: Is It Still Gaslighting If My Partner Has Asperger’s?


Autism spectrum disorders can often develop or persist in adulthood as it is a lifelong  neurodevelopmental disorder. Identifying the common autistic traits in adults can help the sufferers and their loved ones to seek medical help, avail treatment and better manage their symptoms. 

Once you understand what are autistic traits in adults, you can seek a proper medical diagnosis and recover from your condition with the help of therapies, medications and support. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a person be slightly autistic?

Autism can look different for different people as it is a spectrum disorder. While some sufferers have severe symptoms, others may have mild symptoms that don’t affect their lives significantly. Some people may have high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

What does an autistic meltdown look like in adults?

An autistic meltdown is a total loss of control and may involve screaming, angry outbursts, hyperventilating, hand flapping, kicking, hitting their head, self-harm or withdrawal.

Can you have autistic traits but not be autistic?

Although some individuals may exhibit certain autistic traits, like being hypo- or hyper-sensitive to stimuli, it does not mean that they are suffering from autism. 

Who are some famous people with autism?

Some famous people believed to have ASD include Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Charles Darwin, Bill Gates, Tim Burton, Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hannah, Sir Anthony Hopkins etc.

Autism Look Like Adults pin
Autism in Adults pin

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

5 Signs Of Dating Burnout: Hitting The Wall in Love?

Signs Of Dating Burnout: Hitting The Wall in Love?

Ever felt like you’ve hit a brick wall in your love life? That’s dating burnout for you, and it’s more common than you think. It’s that overwhelming feeling when the search for “The One” starts to feel more like a chore than a journey of the heart. Let’s dive into the five telltale signs that you might be experiencing this modern love dilemma.


Burnout is usually characterized by a feeling that no matter what one does, nothing will improve, often leading to feelings of apathy.

One study found that 78 percent of adults aged 18-54 have experienced online dating burnout.

Up Next

15 Diverse Movies Dealing With Mental Illness In A Compelling Way

Movies Dealing With Mental Illness In An Accurate Way

Are you ready to dive deep into the human mind? These movies dealing with mental illness offer support in such a beautiful way. All of them will touch sensitive emotions and will show you how you can triumph over them.

About 1 in 5 adults in the US has a diagnosed mental health condition. But when it comes to diversity in movies, not every picture hits the mark. A few even perpetuate harmful stereotypes or flat-out make things up.

But worry not! We’ve made a list of 11 best mental health films that manage to showcase mental health issues as accurately and res

Up Next

5 Signs You Are Afraid Of Being Seen: Invisible Walls

Signs You Are Afraid Of Being Seen: Invisible Walls

Do you ever feel like you are afraid of being seen, and that’s why you have erected several walls around you so that no one can see your vulnerable side? This article is going to explore five signs you are afraid of being seen and what the fear of being seen really means.

Deep down, most of us want to be seen and accepted for who we are. Showing up fully in your relationships and allowing yourself to be seen is a vulnerable experience that requires you to let your guard down.

On the one hand, taking such a risk can feel incredibly anxiety-provoking, while on the other hand, not taking such a risk can cause your relationships to feel stagnant and block them from growing.

Up Next

Supercharge Your Social Energy: The Ultimate Guide On How To Recharge Social Battery

Pro Tips On How To Recharge Social Battery And Revitalize

Do you find yourself mentally and emotionally drained after being around people, even if you like them? Do you often feel the need to rejuvenate yourself by spending some time alone? This happens when your ‘social battery’ is running low. What is a social battery and how to recharge social battery? Let’s find out.

What does Social Battery Actually Mean?

The idea of social battery refers to an individual’s ability to engage socially

Up Next

Defrost Your Spirit: 10 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues

Ways To Beat The Winter Blues And Defrost Your Spirit

If you’re someone who is plagued by the winter blues every year, then this article is the perfect find for you. In this article, we are going to talk about how to beat the winter blues, and 10 of the most effective but simple ways to beat the winter blues.


We all experience the winter blues sometimes, and that’s OK.

We can use simple strategies to increase energy, motivation, and hopefulness, even on the darkest of days.

We can decide when to lean in and when to push back on the winter blues—either choice is valid.

Up Next

Mind-Body Harmony: 7 Powerful Somatic Exercises For Anxiety That Will Heal You

somatic exercises for anxiety

Being overwhelmed by anxiety is like being trapped on a never-ending rollercoaster ride you didn’t want to go on in the first place. However, what if I told you that there’s a way to disembark the anxiety train and find peace? Somatic exercises for anxiety are the answer.

Somatic healing exercises can calm your anxious mind and bring your entire being back into balance. These can be incredibly powerful as they connect your mind and body, allow you to understand your inner strength, and let go of all your pent-up emotions.

We’ve compiled for you seven somatic exercises for anxiety that will mak

Up Next

Loneliness Or Solitude? 5 Social Withdrawal Symptoms And How To Overcome

Social Withdrawal Symptoms And How To Overcome

Do you ever feel like just running away from everyone and hiding in your room where no one will bother you? Do you think it is better to be alone than being around people? Excessive and persistent social withdrawal can be a serious problem and the first step to overcoming it is by identifying social withdrawal symptoms.

What is Social Withdrawal?

Social withdrawal is defined as an ongoing pattern of avoiding or reducing social interaction consistently over time. It often involves a strong preference for being alone and reduced interests in engaging in any form of social activities.