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    Autistic adults thought they were ‘bad people’



    Summary: Many people on the autism spectrum who were not diagnosed until later in life grew up believing they were “bad people.”

    Source: Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine.

    According to a new study it was found that many over-50s who were diagnosed with autism late in life had grown up believing they were bad people.

    For the study, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University interviewed nine adults about the experience they had when they were diagnosed with autism in their 50s. The participants were in the age range of 52 and 54.

    As children, some participants recounted having no friends and they spent their time in loneliness, and as adults they could not understand why people treated them differently. Several had been treated for depression and anxiety.

    Participants also emphasized on the lack of support available to adults with a new diagnosis.

    It is a noble study that examines the phenomenon of receiving a diagnosis exclusively in middle age.

    One characteristic found in the research was heart-wrenching, that the participants had grown up believing they were bad people. They thought of themselves as ‘alien’ and ‘non-human’.

    The research also suggests that receiving a diagnosis in middle age can be helpful. The subjects often described it as an amazing moment that brought relief into their lives. It helped them to understand why others had reacted negatively towards them.

    Clinicians and health workers need to be aware of the possible symptoms of autism. Often people are diagnosed with anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions and the autism is missed. There needs to be more work done to support older people after they receive a diagnosis.

    Published: Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine.

    Contact: Steven D. Stagg, Department of Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

    Details: Image source Istock


    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

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