Caitlin Conner, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Pittsburgh and a clinical psychologist. She conducts ASD research, as well as the diagnoses and treatment of individuals with ASD.
1.) What are some current projects you’re working on?
The EASE study, where we are studying a mindfulness-based therapy for teens and young adults with ASD who struggle with emotions. With ASERT, I am creating some online training modules on emotion regulation, adult ASD diagnosis to be available to the public.
2.) Why do you think some individuals with ASD were never diagnosed as children?
A few reasons: Children without delays or behavioral problems- the “good, quiet” kids- are still often overlooked. Other diagnoses, like ADHD or anxiety, can ‘overshadow’ autism criteria. And diagnostic criteria did not include people with less severe symptoms until the 1990s.
3.) How can receiving a proper diagnosis—even later in life— still be beneficial?
I have had adults tell me that it explains large pieces of their lives that were a mystery to them. Things like a sense of not fitting in, being told that they were rude to others, suddenly make more sense. Being part of the autistic community can also be really positive for them, as they find people who they can relate to.
4.) What advice would you give to an adult who suspects he/she might have ASD, but isn’t sure what to do next?
Think about and maybe discuss with someone you trust whether seeking a diagnosis is something you want to do. If yes, seek out a provider who provides adult assessments.