When someone with autism isn't treated, it can lead to numerous long-term social and behavioral problems that may potentially result in a lower life expectancy.
A young child being diagnosed with autism can be stressful for them and their parents. Children usually receive a diagnosis between six months of infancy and toddler age. The earlier that autism is detected, the better a plan can be created by psychologists and pediatricians.
Most of these plans include some form of therapy, things like assistance in teaching them language and communication skills, proper ways to conduct themselves in public, and help with maintaining emotions as they respond to the world around them.
Autistic people often suffer from sensory overload, which is when too much stimulation through sound, visuals, or touch is given to the point of causing stress and anxiety.
Both doctors and psychologists strongly recommend that young people be treated for ASD symptoms as soon as an official diagnosis is given. Of course, many cases of autism are milder than others, but if left untreated, they may also rise in severity. Sometimes, the situation in which one with the disorder is living can play a big role in this, particularly for adults on the spectrum.
Other times, a misdiagnosis can cause poor treatment that doesn't appear to help one with the disorder in any way. Because of the risk of misdiagnosis, psychologists now follow up with additional screenings, whereby a classification on the severity level of autism is made.
When adults with autism attempt to go about their life, they may have trouble coping with the stresses of employment or school.
Making friends can become extremely hard to do, as autism is sometimes shown through social awkwardness. And, like children in grade school, bullies in higher education and employment can worsen their situation.
Bullying is a serious problem for autistic people, as is learning how to handle themselves in public without giving in to their unwanted behavioral symptoms. These are all things that therapy after a diagnosis can teach.
However, in many instances, they might be left alone to figure coping mechanisms out on their own. This isn't easy and may lead to physically and mentally damaging results.
There's a large number of adults that are on the spectrum and receiving care from a primary doctor, which sometimes does result in a late diagnosis. Estimates put the number at one out of every 100 adults having mild to extreme autism that hasn't been officially recognized through diagnosis.
Here are some additional problems that adults can have with undiagnosed autism:
When children aren't treated for their autism, they are at a bigger risk of not being properly educated, could hurt themselves or the people close to them, and might miss school altogether.
This is considering milder cases. Some undiagnosed autistic children can talk well and never learn to.
They may be left behind and be forced to repeat different grade levels, act out poorly when in school, and even be expelled if their behavior leads to physical harm to others or themselves.
Because no therapy is given to those that do go undiagnosed, trouble with parents can occur.
A child may not have a proper diet and could become obese or underweight from a lack of healthy eating habits. Young people with ASD already struggle with food. When there's no diagnosis, they may never learn how to eat properly, whereby parents may give in to specific meals they want just to keep them from acting out.
Additionally, the following may occur with autistic young people that haven't been diagnosed:
Parents should consider taking their child to see a psychologist when any of the symptoms previously described are exhibited. These include problems recognizing social cues, an inability to communicate, and in very small children, a lack of response when their name is being called.
An autism diagnosis might not be made immediately, but will follow after a series of tests and interviews are conducted with a child. An MRI might also be suggested since autism may show a lack of neurotypical development.