Discovering an autism diagnosis later in life can be a profound and transformative experience.

From this are 10 benefits to a late ASD diagnosis, even though surprisingly, I keep seeing the following question (and variations thereof) come up in any one of the several autism Facebook groups I’m part of:

“I think I’m autistic, but I’m well over 21 and doing pretty decently, so I’m wondering if there’s any point in getting a formal diagnosis?”

Or it may be phrased something like, “I’m 38 and relate a lot to autistic traits. Should I get an assessment at this age? Would it serve any purpose?”

My answer: You bet your booties it would!

One of the numerous reasons I myself wish I’d gotten diagnosed before adulthood is that, had I known way back then that I was autistic, I would’ve had an altered approach to my “special interests.”

Of course, prior to realizing that I must be autistic (which came in 2021; clinical diagnosis in 2022), I never knew that my infatuations were actually driven by my neurodivergent thinking.

It would’ve been a spectacular experience had I known that, for example, my obsession with mental patients and schizophrenia during college was the product of autistic brain wiring – and this would’ve influenced my pursuit of this intense interest – as well as all of my other hyperfixations throughout life.

Asking people online if you should seek a late autism assessment?

If you’ve reached this point, this answers your question: YES.

I hadn’t even realized most of the benefits until after my diagnosis.

And those realizations hadn’t exactly presented themselves to me all at once the day after my diagnosis, either.

Most began surfacing over time. And I will forever remain quite steamed off that family members, who had “known all along” that I was certainly on the Spectrum, hadn’t had the balls to suggest this idea to me.

10 Benefits to a Late Autism Diagnosis

  1. Self-Understanding and Validation

One of the most immediate benefits of a late autism diagnosis is the validation it provides.

Many individuals spend their lives feeling “different” or “out of place” without understanding why.

A diagnosis can explain these lifelong feelings and experiences, offering a sense of closure.

Understanding that there is a reason for their unique ways of thinking and behaving can be immensely validating, reducing feelings of alienation and confusion.

It may also help prevent, or reduce if it already exists, easily detesting people in general.

Because if someone doesn’t know they’re autistic, they’re more likely to blame feeling different on “everyone else having the problem.” 

If you believe a family member has ASD, do you really want them going through life bitter towards people because they keep attributing their inability to fit in, with deficits in everyone they meet?

This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was so fed up with people that often, when I met someone new, I’d automatically assume they had deficits.

They’d presumably pick up on these vibes of presumption, and this would negatively affect their interaction with me.

In turn, this would dampen my hospitality towards them: self-fulfilling prophecy! Hear that, family members?

  1. Improved Mental Health

A diagnosis can alleviate mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem that often stem from feeling misunderstood or unsupported.

Knowing that there is a neurological basis for their experiences can reduce self-blame and help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Well into adulthood when I was vacationing in Las Vegas with my parents, my hotel room was next to theirs.

The plan one night was for me to drop by at 9 am next morning so we could go to breakfast.

At 9 am I knocked; my mother opened. My father was on the computer; she went beside him.

They were nowhere near ready to leave, while I was hopping to go. I had a little hissy fit.

Had I had my autism diagnosis back then, I would’ve been able to prevent the hissy fit.

I would’ve felt the reaction coming on, yet would’ve also had the insight to think, “Wait a minute; I’m about to have an autistic moment. Stop. Relax. Just quietly sit on the bed and patiently let them finish up with the computer.”

  1. Better Access to Support and Resources

With a formal diagnosis, people can gain access to resources and support services designed for those on the Spectrum.

This includes therapy, support groups and educational materials that can provide strategies for managing daily life.

Support groups, both online and offline, can offer community and shared experiences, which are crucial for personal growth and resilience.

There’d been a time during young adulthood when I was living paycheck to paycheck on a low income, and I possibly could’ve gotten financial assistance with a diagnosis.

  1. Enhanced Relationships

Understanding one’s own autistic traits can improve interpersonal relationships.

It allows individuals to communicate their needs and boundaries more effectively to friends, family and partners.

This improved self-awareness can lead to healthier, more satisfying relationships, as both parties gain a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and needs.

I wonder how many late Autistics would’ve had better interactions with family members had they been diagnosed much earlier. I know I would have.

  1. Tailored Career Development

A late diagnosis can lead to better career satisfaction. Understanding one’s strengths and challenges can help individuals seek out roles and work environments that suit their needs.

Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of neurodiversity, and many are willing to make accommodations.

This can lead to a more fulfilling and productive professional life.

  1. Educational Opportunities

For those still pursuing education, a diagnosis can open doors to academic accommodations.

This might include extended time on exams, alternative formats for assignments or quiet spaces for study.

Understanding their own learning styles and needs can help autistic men and women leverage their strengths and mitigate challenges, leading to more effective and enjoyable educational experiences.

  1. Empowerment Through Self-Advocacy

A formal diagnosis empowers individuals to advocate for themselves.

Knowing their rights and the specific accommodations they need allows them to navigate social, educational and professional environments more effectively.

Self-advocacy leads to greater independence and control over one’s life.

  1. Joining the Neurodiverse Community

Many late-diagnosed Autistics seek out like-minded adults for socializing after a lifetime of often feeling awkward in social situations among neurotypicals.

A diagnosis, even very late, often introduces people to the neurodiverse community, where they can find solidarity and support.

This community offers a space to share experiences, learn from others and celebrate neurodiversity – along with feeling more comfortable being one’s authentic self.

  1. Personal Growth and Development

Understanding one’s neurological makeup can facilitate personal growth.

It encourages self-exploration and acceptance, allowing individuals to identify and nurture their unique talents and interests.

This deeper self-awareness can lead to more purposeful and satisfying life choices.

  1. Massive Increase in Self-Insight

It’s really cool – and I mean REALLY COOL – to have an explanation for so many of my life experiences, both external and internal.

With my ASD diagnosis, I now know “why I did that” or “why I was like that.”

I now know why I do certain things, such as extensive overthinking and relentless rehearsing inside my head of anticipated conversations.

I have an explanation for my sensory issues. All the wayward dots have finally been joined.

Are you on the fence about an ASD assessment?

A late-in-life autism diagnosis can be a life-changing revelation that brings numerous benefits.

Trust me when I say this: Right now, as you tinker around with the idea of seeking a formal evaluation, you have NO idea what all the benefits will be if you get the diagnosis.

You may already have some in mind, but there will be new ones surfacing at some point after your diagnosis.

And those new realizations will only come about IF you get the autism diagnosis!

There’s just something about the formality of the diagnosis by an ASD psychologist – several hours of testing and the detailed report – that creates benefits that pre-diagnosis you just cannot begin to fathom.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical and fitness topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. In 2022 she received a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder. 


Top image: ©Lorra Garrick