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Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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3.4 Experiencing diagnosis in adulthood

Nowadays it is not uncommon for an adult to receive a diagnosis after a younger family member has been diagnosed. John Peters was born in the 1940s. He is articulate and sociable, with an obsessive interest in collecting and hoarding objects. He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome around two decades ago, after specialists assessing his two grandchildren, Acis and Harry, noticed his unusual behaviour. His Asperger syndrome diagnosis implies that he showed no delay in language development as an infant. John’s teenage behaviour was probably seen as eccentric, but in the period when he was growing up, a profile of skills and behaviour like his did not match the symptoms of autism as then described, and Asperger syndrome was not recognised.

Activity 4 On being diagnosed as an adult

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch these clips about John Peters. Note one positive and one negative feeling that John experienced on being diagnosed.

Download this video clip.Video player: aut_1_wk03_autism-puzzle_8_john_edited.mp4
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Discussion

John's diagnosis has helped him to explain feeling different, and other problems that he has suffered with all his life. However, he also refers to a deep sense of guilt. This may be partly because he now realises that he was difficult to live with, and also because he has passed ‘autism genes’ to his grandchildren. He feels that if his own diagnosis had been known, Acis and Harry’s difficulties would have been explained earlier.