Symptoms of autism: how to spot signs as Chris Packham and GMB presenter’s daughter speak about late diagnosis

Chris Packham and the daughter of GBM presenter Jonathan Swain used their platform on the early morning show to raise autism awareness

Chris Packham and Immie Swain took to early morning television to raise awareness of autism in adults.

Packham, 60, has been candid about living with Asperger Syndrome since revealing that he had been diagnosed with the form of autism in 2005.

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Immie, the 17-year-old daughter of Good Morning Britain presenter Jonathan Swain, also spoke about her experience in being diagnosed with autism on the show.

She revealed she had been diagnosed at the age of 15 and voiced her frustrations for teenagers and adults on years-long waiting lists for a diagnosis. Immie also added that “you’re not getting the help you need” when autism goes undiagnosed.

Packham backed the teenager, saying: “The first thing to say is what Immie has done is tremendously important, speaking out as a young woman especially.

“The key thing is it’s not also just about the diagnosis, it’s very much about the support that comes after that diagnosis.”

But how does autism present in adults? And what signs should you look out for if you suspect you or someone else has autism?

What are the main signs of autism in adults?

According to the NHS, the main signs of autism in adults includes:

  • Finding it hard to read the emotions of others
  • Social anxiety 
  • Difficulty in making friends or preferring to be alone
  • Coming across as blunt or rude when speaking to somebody without meaning to
  • Finding it difficult to describe your emotions
  • Taking everyday phrases or sarcasm literally
  • Sticking to a routine and having anxiety around breaking the routine

What other signs should I look out for?

While the symptoms above are the main ones to look out for, there are other signs to keep an eye out for.

Other signs to look out for when diagnosing autism are:

  • Avoiding eye contact when speaking to someone
  • A lack of spatial awareness when speaking to people - getting too close to someone or becoming uncomfortable when someone touches or gets too close to you
  • Taking a keen interest in specific interests 
  • Noticing patterns or details that other people don’t notice
  • A lack of awareness for social rules such as not talking over someone
  • A tendency to plan carefully before undertaking an activity

Is there a difference in how autism signs show between males and females?

Studies suggest that there is in fact a difference in how autism presents in women and men.

This may be because autistic women can present as quieter than men with autism. They may be able to mask their emotions a little better and appear to cope in social situations.

As autistic women tend to hide their emotions and social anxiety better than men, it could be harder to tell if there is a diagnosis compared to a man.

Currently, there are around 700,000 people in the UK diagnosed with the condition.

What do I do if I think I or someone I know has autism?

The best thing to do if you suspect that either yourself or someone you know has autism is to contact a medical professional who can refer to an autism specialist for an assessment.

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