Spotting the Subtleties: The Pink Flags of Adult Autism

When you hear about autism, your mind might jump to the big, bold signs that we often see in movies or read about in books. But, what about those that fly under the radar with muted traits? What about adults who have developed compensatory strategies as a result of living with difficulties for many years? These are the pink flags – the kind of signs that don’t shout “I’m here!” but might whisper “Something’s up.” This blog is about spotting those whispers and understanding the less obvious ways in which adult autism can be present.

Pink Flags: What Are They Anyway?

Think of pink flags as the quiet cousins of the red flags we’re all told to look out for. They’re the quirks and habits that are a bit offbeat, but not enough to make you stop and say, “Wait a minute…” They’re subtle, often missed in a busy world that loves to label things quickly.

Those Little Social Quirks:

– Speaking a Different Language: Ever met someone who takes “It’s raining cats and dogs” a bit too literally? Or who might not catch the rhythm in a conversation, talking over people or missing the beat when it’s their turn to speak?

– Social Slip-Ups: We’re not saying major faux pas here, but little things like deep-diving into their stamp collection while everyone else has glazed-over eyes, or missing the hint when someone’s trying to wrap up a conversation.

– Feeling the Feels… Differently: Someone might not get why everyone’s tearing up in a sad movie, or they might not crack a smile at a joke that has the whole room laughing. It’s about tuning into emotions in a different key.

The Behind-the-Scenes Stuff:

– Plan Lovers: Some folks just love a good plan. They’re not going to meltdown if things change, but they might get a tad cranky or seem a bit thrown off when their favorite lunch spot is closed on a Tuesday or you suggest switching up a plan.

– Passion Patrol: Instead of being all-consumed with one topic, they might just be really, really into something, maybe model trains, knowing every little detail, but still managing to hold down a job and chat about the weather.

– Detail Detectives: Paying attention to the nitty-gritty might be their superpower. They might be the first to spot a typo or remember a small fact from a conversation last week.

Sensing the World Differently:

– Sensory Selectivity: It’s not about sensory overload; maybe they just really can’t stand wool sweaters or they always notice the hum of the fridge in the background.

– Noticing the Not-So-Obvious: They might pick up on things most people gloss over, like the way lights flicker or the pattern rain makes on the window.

Why Spotting Pink Flags Matters:

Catching these pink flags isn’t about slapping on a label; it’s about understanding. It’s for the boss who might not get why their employee hates last-minute meetings or last minute cancellations. It’s for the friend who’s puzzled when their buddy doesn’t want to go to the noisy food festival.

It’s also a nod to those who see these traits in themselves and think, “Ah, so that’s why I’m like that.” It’s about finding answers, getting support, and maybe even a sense of relief.

The Benefits of Testing:

Autism testing in adults isn’t about labeling; it’s about liberation. It can:

– Provide Clarity: Understanding why certain aspects of life feel more challenging can be a relief and provide a path forward.

– Offer Support: A diagnosis can open doors to resources, support networks, and accommodations that can make everyday life more navigable.

– Enhance Relationships: With a greater understanding of oneself, it’s easier to communicate needs and boundaries to others.

– Encourage Self-Acceptance: Recognizing that these traits are part of the autism spectrum can lead to greater self-acceptance and self-esteem.

If these pink flags are waving at you, why not explore a bit? Reach out for the lowdown on getting tested. It’s like going on a treasure hunt for insights about yourself. Adult autism can be a bit of a chameleon, blending into the background with its pink flags. But once you know what to look for, you start to see the full picture. And that picture is just a different version of normal – a little less loud, maybe, but no less colorful. So let’s tune in to these whispers, because everyone deserves to be heard, understood, and supported, in all their unique glory.

Dr. Whitney Legler