Have you noticed more and more people talking about being on the autism spectrum lately?

Are you starting to wonder if maybe you’re one of them? Well, you’re not alone! The truth is, there has been a significant increase in adult autism diagnoses in recent years. But why?

Some people might think it’s because of all those Zoom meetings – I mean, who wouldn’t feel a little bit “autistic” after staring at their own face for hours on end? But the real reason is a lot more complex than that.

First of all, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: autism has historically been misunderstood and misdiagnosed, especially in women and minorities. For many years, the diagnostic criteria for autism were very narrow and only applied to children. This means that many adults who are autistic were never identified or diagnosed as such. It wasn’t until 2013, when the criteria for autism diagnosis changed, that more adults started getting diagnosed.

But that’s not the only reason. As awareness of autism has increased, more people are learning about the different ways that autism can present itself. People are recognizing that autism is a spectrum, and that there are many different ways to be autistic. This means that people who may not have fit the old stereotypes of autism are now being recognized and diagnosed.

Another reason for the increase in adult autism diagnoses is the growing acceptance of neurodiversity and differences. As society becomes more inclusive, individuals who may have previously felt ashamed or confused about their differences are feeling more comfortable seeking a diagnosis and identifying as autistic. This can be a liberating experience for many people, and can help them better understand and accept themselves.

So, if you’re starting to wonder if you might be autistic, what should you do? First of all, don’t panic! Getting an autism diagnosis is not a bad thing – in fact, it can be incredibly helpful and validating. Many autistic adults have found that getting a diagnosis has helped them better understand their strengths and challenges, and has led to more effective treatments and accommodations.

If you think you might be autistic, the first step is to talk to a professional. A psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes in autism can help you understand the diagnostic process and determine whether an evaluation is appropriate. There are also many online resources and support groups available for autistic adults and their families.

In conclusion, the increase in adult autism diagnoses is a complex phenomenon that can be attributed to a combination of factors, including changes in diagnostic criteria, increased awareness and understanding of autism, improved diagnostic tools, and a more accepting and inclusive society. If you think you might be autistic, don’t be afraid to explore that possibility. You might just discover a whole new way of understanding and appreciating yourself.

Dr. Jessica Myszak has had over 10 years of experience performing psychological evaluations with children and adults. She offers both in-person and telehealth evaluations. In addition to seeing clients on the Chicago North Shore, she is able to work with families who reside in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, West Virginia, and Wisconsin! If you are interested in learning more about potentially working with her, you can visit her website here to get the process started.