HOUSTON — A new study reveals children can be diagnosed with autism as early as 14 months, which could lead them to starting therapies early, which significantly improves their quality of life.

Right now, children with autism don’t typically begin treatment until age 3 or 4, but there are thousands of adults on the spectrum, who have never been diagnosed.

William Purdy, 28, was diagnosed two years ago when he sought therapy after having difficulty finding a job.

“I have some pretty intense sensory issues,” says Purdy. “I thought maybe I was bipolar or OCD.”

Dr. Katherine Loveland, a psychologist with UT Physicians, specializes in adult autism.

“We meet a lot of people, often in mid life,” says Dr. Loveland. “My oldest patient is 73.”

According to the American Psychological Association, 37 percent of young adults with autism are “disconnected” in their early 20s, meaning they’ve never held a job or continued their education after high school.

Dr. Loveland says there are resources available for adults on the spectrum that offer the tools to help them get through challenges including psychotherapy, social skills classes, and job and vocational training. 

“While those on the spectrum can have an intense focus that makes them good employees, they often struggle at the interview level,” says Dr. Loveland.

Purdy works part time, doing search engine optimization, but he aspires to be a fiction writer, and he’s hoping the skills he’s learning now, will help him achieve his dream.

“If you can find someone willing to reach out that hand and help, you should take that because it can really change your life – and it has changed mine.” he said.

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