Lost Generation







      “Could My Dad have Undiagnosed Autism?”    Maybe there’s always been something a little off with your dad that you haven’t been able to put your finger on. Perhaps he has trouble making friends or has some unusual routines that you’ve never quite understood. Until recent decades, people thought autism only looked like the severe cases seen in movies like “Rain Man.” Today, we know that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can display a variety of mild to severe symptoms. This growing knowledge of ASD has many people wondering if their dad’s unique traits could be signs of undiagnosed autism.    But how can you know if your dad is on the spectrum? And if he’s gone his whole life undiagnosed, should you encourage him to find out?   If you think your dad might have undiagnosed autism, here are some things you should know:    1. There’s a  lost generation   Autism wasn’t widely recognized until the 1980’s, so countless kids with autism were misdiagnosed or completely overlooked in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and 70’s. In recent years, many adults have only realized they have ASD when one of their children has been diagnosed. The tragedy of this lost generation is that these individuals did not receive the support growing up that we now know drastically improves the quality of life for children and adults with autism.      2. There’s no “typical” autism   There’s a saying that if you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism. No two people have identical symptoms, and if your dad has autism he will likely exhibit some symptoms and not others. Common symptoms include:      Trouble making friends or being “socially awkward”    Difficulty expressing emotion     Making involuntary sounds like clearing throat or humming    Sticking to strict routines and getting upset when they are disrupted    Having repetitive rituals (sometimes autism is misdiagnosed as OCD)    Underdeveloped motor skills (e.g. - poor penmanship or clumsiness)    Fixating on particular interests such as a sports team or astronomy    Having amazing memories    Making honest observations (even if they are inappropriate!)    Being highly intelligent     Being unable to understand body language    Avoiding eye contact     Disliking loud noise or busy environments    Preferring not to be physically touched    Speaking loudly without realizing it    Invading others’ personal space without meaning to    Preferring the company of kids or animals to people their own age      3. Your dad is not defective   People with autism are not broken; they just don’t respond to visual and verbal cues the same way mainstream society does. Having autism in a neurotypical world is sort of like being dropped off in a foreign country with radically different customs than you’re used to; yes, you can get by, but you’ll have trouble fitting in until you learn how to interact in ways the locals understand. In turn, the more society learns about ASD, the more schools, employers, and families can support the success and well-being of people with autism.      4. The spectrum has its perks   Many people with ASD reject the idea that autism needs to be “cured” but rather that society should embrace the unique gifts that individuals with autism bring to the table. People with ASD tend to be honest, loyal, nonjudgmental, passionate, intelligent, nonmaterialistic, and have a great sense of humor. They also tend to be better at living in the present than their ever-distracted neurotypical neighbors. Many also have outstanding talents that go beyond the average person’s capabilities.      5. Accommodations are everything   People with undiagnosed autism spend their entire lives trying to decode how to speak and act in socially acceptable ways. But when a diagnosis is made, adjustments can be made to make work, religious, and family life much more supportive of how individuals with autism think and interact. With accommodations such as mentors, calm workspaces, clear instructions, extended deadlines, additional breaks, and predictable schedules, people with autism can find success and fulfillment in all aspects of life.    Click here to check out our blog on securing accommodations for post graduate career exams     6. A diagnosis can be healing   Today, one in 59 children are diagnosed with autism. It’s impossible to gauge how many kids from previous generations had autism but remained under the radar. As an adult, a diagnosis can help your dad gain clarity on why certain things in life have been difficult for him. Understanding ASD can boost his self-confidence and empower him to embrace his unique gifts and traits. What’s more, there are communities of adults with ASD who he can connect with to build relationships and gain the support he never had growing up.       7. Breaking the news brings risks   So you’ve read the blog and are convinced your dad has autism: now the million dollar question becomes whether or not you should tell him. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. While a diagnosis could be liberating, he may not be receptive to hearing your hunch. He’s spent his entire life learning how to cope with his differences, and finding out that he’s had a lifelong diagnosis may feel painful and confusing. A mental health specialist can help you determine whether the pros of understanding his symptoms and potentially seeking support could outweigh the risk of hurting his feelings or creating tension in your relationship.      

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      8. You deserve support   As you consider your dad’s emotional needs, make sure you don’t neglect your own. You may also be carrying pain and confusion from growing up with a parent on the spectrum. Perhaps you’ve always felt emotionally disconnected from your dad or maybe you’ve felt a parent-child role reversal as you’ve tried to help him cope with his symptoms. A mental health specialist who understands the impact of having a parent on the autism spectrum can help you work through these challenges.      
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       *Please note: since the publishing of this blog, Variations Psychology has narrowed its focus to diagnostic testing and psychological evaluations. Our Doctors can evaluate whether you or your loved one have a diagnosis and guide you through the next steps in achieving your mental health or academic goals. While Variations does not offer counseling, our diagnostic evaluations allow us to refer patients to specialists who are best equipped to meet their needs. In addition,     this link       can guide you through a directory of therapists, psychiatrists, treatment centers, and support groups in your area.        Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life           
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
       References:   Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Data & Statistics. Retrieved online: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html  Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Signs & Symptoms. Retrieved online: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html  Lai MC, Baron-Cohen S (2015). Identifying the lost generation of adults with autism spectrum conditions. Lancet Psychiatry.  2(11):1013-27. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00277-1.   Shinn. M.M.  (2018). Graduate Student’s Guide to Test Accommodations: The LSAT, MCAT, GRE, NCLEX, CBEST, GMAT, Cosmetology Exam, Contractors Exam, & Bar Exam.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from:   https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/graduate-students-guide-to-test-accommodations    Jordan, M. (2018). Workplace Accommodations: Tips and Resources.  Autism.com  Retrieved online: https://www.autism.com/adults_accommodations2  Ranaghan, S. (2018). My story being diagnosed as an adult on the autism spectrum.  Autism Speaks . Retrieved from: https://www.autismspeaks.org/life-spectrum/my-story-being-diagnosed-autism-adult    How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). Could My Dad Have Undiagnosed Autism?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/could-my-dad-have-undiagnosed-autism

“Could My Dad have Undiagnosed Autism?”

Today, one in 59 kids is diagnosed with autism. 50 years ago, autism was largely misunderstood. It’s impossible to gauge how many kids from previous generations had autism but remained under the radar. If you think your dad might be one of the lost generation, check out this week’s blog for 8 things you should know.