Can Autism Disorder Worsen with Age? What to do?

People with autism behave in different ways depending on various factors. These include their environment, the kind of support available to them and if they have any other physical or mental health problems. Recent research has begun investigating whether age can impact autism. If it does, then it is something that care homes in Newham will need to consider when creating care plans for their service users.

Autism development through life

In the popular imagination, autism is often depicted as a condition that affects children. Adults with autism receive less attention. There could be several reasons for this, including how children often learn coping and masking techniques before they reach adulthood so their autistic characteristics become less obvious, and how autism only really became widely recognised in the last few decades, and therefore scientific research into its long term impact is still in the relatively early stages.

Signs of autism tend to become apparent as the child reaches milestone ages but does not develop at the same rate as their peers. Some older children and adolescents will find ways to manage the more negative traits of autism. This does not mean they are no longer autistic, and some will experience other problems because of the strain of trying to appear normal. Others will continue to display the same autistic characteristics, many of which will be considered less acceptable by wider society due to their age.

There is still a lack of conclusive evidence as to how autism is displayed by adults. Some research suggests that some traits may become more severe. Older people may find it more difficult to adapt their behaviour to changing situations and become even more set in their ways. Some will experience other conditions such as depression that can make it even harder to manage their autistic traits. The mental deterioration associated with ageing, which at its most serious can include dementia, can damage cognition and memory and therefore make it harder to maintain coping strategies.

How care homes in Newham should adapt to the effects of ageing

Any residential home should tailor its support to the specific needs of each individual with autism. This includes acknowledging the impact of ageing. It may take more patience and understanding to deal with service users who experience frustration at possible declines in both physical and mental health, which in turn can aggravate the negative traits of autism. Just maintaining a calm, quiet and stable environment can be a powerful way to help older adults with autism feel secure. Never treat adults with autism like children.

Someone who has autism will be autistic for their whole life, but that does not mean that their autism will always display in the same way. Many factors combine to ensure that every person develops differently as they age. Sometimes, this will mean improved self-awareness and control of autistic traits, sometimes it will lead to deterioration. In all cases, ensuring the person with autism has adequate support is vital in care homes in Newham.