People who are diagnosed with the condition when they are younger may have a better sense of well-being in adulthood.
The study found that people who learned of their condition as adults reported more positive feelings about it.
The findings suggest that telling a child that they are on the spectrum at a young age will give them access to support and help them thrive later in life.
For the first time, researchers directly investigated whether learning about a person's condition at a young age is related to better adult outcomes. Many people with limited resources are diagnosed with the condition years after their first symptoms are noticed. Many people with the condition don't receive their diagnosis until adulthood.
The study was carried out by a group of people. A survey of university students who were diagnosed with the condition showed how they felt about it. Respondents said how they felt about their lives now that they're on the spectrum.
One of the co-authors, Dr Steven Kapp, lecturer in psychology at the University of Portsmouth, was diagnosed with and informed of hisautism when he was 13 years old. He said that students who were diagnosed at a young age felt happier about their lives than people who were diagnosed later in life. Our study shows that it's best to tell people they're on the spectrum as soon as possible, in a balanced, personal, and developmentally appropriate way. Learning one is autistic can be empowering because it helps people understand themselves and also helps them connect with other people like them.
Being given a diagnosis as an adult can be empowering.
Dr Kapp said that learning about the condition at an older age is associated with more positive emotions. This finding makes sense, although emotional reactions are often very complex and unique to each person, and there has been a lot of emerging research showing that relief is a common response to an autism diagnosis in adulthood.
The study suggests that parents shouldn't wait for children to be adults to tell them they are not normal. Most of the highlighted factors to consider when telling a child of theirautism are developmental level, support needs, curiosity, and personality. The findings suggest that parents should tell their children that they areautistic in ways that help them understand and feel good about who they are. One participant said that she would tell her child that they should be proud of their identity and that there are supports that help them meet their needs.
This is the first study to show that learning at a young age that one is affected by the condition is beneficial. It is important for parents to talk to their child when the conversation begins. Our findings suggest that learning at a younger age that one is a person with a disability can help them develop self-awareness and access support.
The findings suggest that many aspects of identity, besides age, may contribute to how people respond to learning they are on the spectrum. More exploratory findings suggested that women and non-binary people were more likely to respond positively to first learning they were not normal. The authors hope that future research will look at the development of a person's identity when they are not speaking.
The paper was a collaboration between people.
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