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Signs of autism in adults

Main signs of autism

Common signs of autism in adults include:

  • finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • getting very anxious about social situations
  • finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own
  • seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to
  • finding it hard to say how you feel
  • taking things very literally – for example, you may not understand sarcasm or phrases like "break a leg"
  • having the same routine every day and getting very anxious if it changes

Other signs of autism

You may also have other signs, like:

  • not understanding social "rules", such as not talking over people
  • avoiding eye contact
  • getting too close to other people, or getting very upset if someone touches or gets too close to you
  • noticing small details, patterns, smells or sounds that others do not
  • having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities
  • liking to plan things carefully before doing them

Autism in women and men

Autism can sometimes be different in women and men.

Autistic women may:

  • have learned to hide signs of autism to ‘fit in’ - by copying people who don’t have autism
  • be quieter and hide their feelings
  • appear to cope better with social situations
  • show fewer signs of repetitive behaviours

This means it can be harder to tell you're autistic if you're a woman.

The National Autistic Society have more information about autistic women and girls

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you think you may be autistic

If you already see a health professional, such as another doctor or therapist, you could speak to them instead.

Getting diagnosed can help you get any extra support you might need.

Find out how to get diagnosed

Page last reviewed: 11 November 2022
Next review due: 11 November 2025