To avoid derailing any other threads, it would be interesting to hear other people’s thoughts, experiences, theories etc. related to autism. I first strongly suspected that I was autistic in about December last year and was diagnosed a couple of months ago, so everything’s fresh and I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to tie everything together in my own mind. Since it’s not so much a topic for me as a redefinition of how my mind works and how I see the world (along with a new narrative about my life up to this point), there are still a lot of pieces of the puzzle all over the floor.
And to explain a couple of the detours from recent topics: as far as I was concerned, I was still very much on topic (although I can understand why people would disagree). I guess there are lots of connections and metaphorical links between topics that make sense to me and help me gain different perspectives on the central issue, but they may not seem as visible, rational or helpful to other people.
It takes some effort not to introduce a pet topic into different discussions too, which is one reason I’ve been commenting a lot less recently.
In any case: I’m keeping the title purposefully general, as it is a big topic and there are a lot of related issues that may be of interest to different people. Personal questions are fine by me (and I may ask some back about neurotypical (NT) perspectives), but Autism is a diverse spectrum and I’ve only been diagnosed recently, so my answers may not be the same as other people’s and may not match current research (TBH, there seems to be quite a bit of disagreement about defining traits and whether autistic people would agree with how they’re phrased in current and past research, as well as whether Autism is even one thing rather than a group of related issues).
Some issues connected with autism:
- Difficulty understanding or empathising with other people and connecting with them
- Difficulty understanding nonverbal cues such as facial expressions; tendency to take statements literally
- Sensory issues, such as overstimulation in environments with bright lights, loud noises, multiple conversations, strange textures etc.
- Stimming - generally repetitive activities that could be used to regulate emotions or sensory input. Some examples could be spinning, hand flapping, staring at clouds, bouncing etc.
- Meltdowns/shutdowns - this can be related to a longer term buildup of stress from emotions or stimuli, while the trigger itself might be relatively minor and the reaction might seem unexpected and intense to outsiders
- Difficulty understanding and expressing emotions
- Some autists can have delayed speech or be nonverbal into adulthood
- Intense thought processes and tendency to be systematising and preoccupied with particular topics
- Strong interest in obects, patterns, numbers etc. rather than relationships and small talk.
- If you start a conversation with an Aspie, there’s a significant chance that you’ll get a lecture on their topic of interest, and they won’t necessarily get signs that you’re losing interest.
- Mismatch between intellectual development and social and emotional development
- A disproportionate number of autists are asexual and/or transgender
- Autism is more common with men, but women are underdiagnosed as the diagnoses tend to favour male traits and women tend to be better at masking symptoms
Not everyone will have all of these traits, and not to the same extent, while there are other traits that are also common.
Some tests that may be interesting:
http://www.rdos.net/eng/Aspie-quiz.php (Aspie quiz)
http://aspietests.org/userdetails.php?target=aq/index.php (Autism quotient test)
The last two are particularly good for giving you an idea of whether you are on the spectrum, and the Aspie quiz gives you more detailed results.
Your neurodiverse (Aspie) score: 143 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 57 of 200
You are very likely neurodiverse (Aspie)
AQ test: 41 out of 50.