11. It’s different for everyone. I have Aspergers Syndrome, a more mild form of Autism that affects me more socially than anything. I live a normal life in that I work full-time, I go to university too. I don’t need/want care or supervision. Here are the ways which it affects my life:
- I have my interests and obsessions – I get intensely interested in something for a period of time. Mine tend to go for about a year – in the past, it’s been burlesque, pin-up girls, medieval history, motorcycles etc. I don’t really collect things, just learn as much about it as I possibly can and spend a huge chunk of time doing so.
- I struggle with sarcasm and innuendo, and I don’t make facial expressions that match my emotions – I’ve been told before while apologizing that I don’t look sorry, but I have literally no idea what a sorry look is. However, my friends (all 3 of them) get me and know that I’m an awful liar anyway so they don’t need to worry about my sincerity.
- I’m also affectionate at all, my friends know not to be all huggy and kissy as it makes me super uncomfortable. I like my personal space and am very defensive about it.
- I can go into sensory overload, but it has to be specific circumstances for it to happen – shopping malls tend to be the perfect storm of “triggers”. Loud noises, bright lights, people bumping into me, easy to get lost etc.
- I have a very high IQ. I’m aware that doesn’t make me ‘smart’ per se, but it’s a thing. My psychologist had me tested when I was 19, it came out at 143. I process information very quickly, and I acquire new information and retain it easily.
- I’m very logical – I don’t get lost in fantasy land. Even with what I read and films I watch, if I can’t believe it I can’t enjoy it. So I don’t enjoy LOTR, Harry Potter etc and people act like I killed their dog when I inform them of this.
- I had to learn to have a filter on what I say – and sometimes I slip up. When I was a kid, I used to say all kinds of inappropriate sh*t to adults, and as I was undiagnosed until 18 people just thought I was ill-mannered. My psychologist has helped me heaps, and my mom has been great ever since I received a diagnosis…and she apologized for all the a*s kickings as a kid (haha).
- Not so much anymore, but I used to fidget. Specifically, I used to spin things in circles. Just whatever I was holding. I never got an explanation as to why I did this, I just got told it’s common for Autistic kids.
I would like to say that life is far better for me now than it was as a child, the school was literally the worst. In school, people pick on anyone that’s different, and Australia seems to have this huge anti-intellectualism culture: I was bullied horribly for my preference of books over people, however, I was suddenly very useful when it came to trivia, or assignments, or anything that required thinking. If you have any questions about my experience, please ask away. I’m very open about it and if you want to learn I’ll gladly be of assistance 🙂
12. I am a female high functioning autistic with general anxiety and social anxiety. I’m not sure exactly where the anxiety ends and the autism begins. The two issues are a recipe for loneliness.
The majority of the time most people do not notice my autism. I’m pretty good at faking it. I dropped out of school but I’m not sure if it’s because my anxiety made me unable to cope with my autism or my autism made me unable to cope with my anxiety. Anxiety is not logical, it makes no sense and it’s stupid and suffocating. After wasting years of my life buried in online gaming, I got a job. In retail. I learned to feign interest, make and hold eye contact and not completely lose my sh*t when someone touches me or stands too close to me. I even got to a state where I was able to talk on the phone. That is where the tables turned for me, as long as my anxiety was under control, I could blend in with the NT crowd.
When people push me past my emotional or physical comfort level I start to revert back and the autism comes seeping out. I twitch, my leg will bounce, I can’t look at people, and if I keep being pushed I usually end up banging my head on things and trying to get away from the situation by hiding somewhere quiet, cramped and dark.
I don’t relate to people’s pain. I don’t feel sympathy for anyone except my son, and even then it’s only for some things. I don’t feel bad when horrible things happen to people, like car accidents and cancer. I (think) I am really good at looking sad, and I’ll put my hand on your shoulder and tell you ‘I am here for you’, and I will listen to you, but I don’t really care. I just do what I think is expected of me.
I get very agitated when plans change. I like to know exactly what is happening, where we are going, how we will get there, who will be there, what will be provided to eat and drink, and if any of those things is not as I expected it’s like someone has derailed my entire day and I find it hard to find an alternative or interact with a person I didn’t expect to be there because I didn’t have my ‘small talk’ planned out already.
Certain sounds make me want to vomit out my insides and makes it feel like my ears are bleeding. I can’t stand touching cotton balls or velour and velvet fabric. I can’t sleep without a blanket on me, even on 30°C+ nights, I think I need to invest in a weighted blanket.
My hobbies often vary wildly, but they can last a long time and be very intense. In 5 years I went from owning a Betta splenden in a 10-liter tank to a 550-litre full reef system with several thousand dollars worth of equipment and another 20+ fish tanks scattered throughout the house. I dumped all that and now I’m sewing, I have enough fabric to be buried alive underneath and not be found until the smell of my rotting corpse drew the neighbors attention. I’ve only had that hobby for 2 years. I’ve progressed a significant amount since I had a child 2 years ago, though it took me a suicide attempt and a lot of help to get through the first year. It has changed who I am as a person and how I relate to other people a lot. It helped me to lose the strict, structured routine that I had to have, and replaced it with a much more relaxed one, and I finally understand love.
13. Well, I would first like to note that it’s different for everyone. I learned to have a pretty normal life with some adaptations. I had to learn to look people in the eyes when I talk to them, didn’t come naturally to me. I still don’t like it when I feel uncomfortable. Now I can understand non-verbal communication pretty well but once in a while, there is that one person I just can’t read. Is this your form of sarcasm, are you angry? Pure poker face for me.
Emotions can be more extreme, especially the negative ones, unfortunately. There is a sudden trigger and a switch just flips. I usually take a step back and take a breather to get myself to baseline then.
This also ties in with control for me. I have a hard time with unfamiliar situations/places or if I have no way out. What’s normal there, how should I behave, what if I do something wrong? What if I need a moment to myself where do I go? I would love to travel but everything about it can get me into a panic. But once I’m there and have assigned a spot as my place to collect myself I’m fine. Getting there is the hard part.
I also want to be really really sure someone likes a present. I am horrible at giving a gift without them knowing what it is. I only not check if they would like it if there is no doubt in my mind that they would love it.
The last thing I can come up with is sensory filters. Filtering useless info is exhausting, and I feel lucky I can even do that even though it costs me extra energy. A club is a nightmare, way too loud and too many people and lights. On the flip side when it’s super quiet my mind focuses on the background hum, equally distracting. That’s why I usually put on something from here, I love that I can customize every soundscape. Still day to day live is just a lot of info input and I need some time alone so my mind can process it all and dump the useless garbage. I’m fine as long as I don’t go to intentionally overstimulating places and make sure I get enough rest.
14. My brother is autistic. I can’t tell you what it’s like from his perspective, but it doesn’t take long to figure out that a lot of people have zero sympathies for someone that isn’t neurotypical.
15. I’m on the spectrum but I don’t experience a lot of the ‘classic’ symptoms like flapping and having meltdowns or not being able to cope with crowds etc. Apparently, that’s common in girls with autism/Aspergers and a lot of us don’t actually get diagnosed until much later in life. Something to do with girls supposedly being able to ‘hide’ it better and fit in.
I struggle a lot with social interaction, I used to be very awkward when I was younger and I would just say embarrassing cringe stuff and I was bullied a lot for it. Now I just stay quiet and I struggle to make conversation with new people, the flow of conversation just doesn’t come naturally. When I do talk, I can’t speak in the right tone and people usually think I’m just rude. I have to really force myself to appear friendly, but it just feels wrong and just makes me more anxious.
Some autistic people also have major problems with executive function, but I feel like it isn’t really spoken about. Doctors/therapists never mentioned it and I went a long time just thinking I was just lazy. The stereotype of autism really pushes this idea that we are incredibly good at things like maths or a certain subject. I can’t do maths at all, it just doesn’t work with my mind beyond the basics (even then I usually rely on a calculator.) I was very interested in creative writing growing up, and I still am, but I struggle to actually piece ideas together and motivate myself to write them. This carries onto everyday tasks like being able to figure out what needs doing to make a meal, pick out an outfit, clean my apartment etc. Organizing myself is a huge problem. Everything seems more complicated than it is and I have to break things down into individual tasks or it just seems overwhelming.
I have ‘special interests’ too. Namely sci-fi, I love Star Wars and just about everything Star Wars is incredibly interesting to me. I also have phases of special interest that kind of come and go (another reason I feel like I could also be bipolar as these phases are much like mania). A few months ago I was obsessed with the idea of collecting dolls and dollhouses, more recently I’ve been researching Wicca. Now I’m not interested in either.
I’d describe it like my brain is totally manual. Things don’t come naturally to me and I have to make notes all the time to keep track of things otherwise I just forget. At the moment I keep a bullet journal which helps quite a bit. It’s like I have to manage my thoughts externally or everything is just a huge mess. I have to prepare myself a lot for social interaction and I can spend an entire day planning what I’m going to say or what topics I plan to talk about with somebody to avoid being too awkward. I have a lot of symptoms which also match up to ADHD and bipolar disorder though so I’m still trying to work that out. Unfortunately so far the mental health professionals I’ve tried to speak to about it just brush it off as being part of autism so I don’t really know for sure. My experiences don’t really fit the idea of autism that I grew up being told about, so my own mental health is very confusing to me.
16. Imagine you just started a new job, but you didn’t get any on the job training, the company has a very different work ethic to what you’re used to, the environment is different, the people are unapproachable, everyone seems to know what they’re doing but you, nobody seems to accept that you don’t know what you’re doing, they just get irritated with you, it’s assumed that you can just ask people for help if you’re struggling but everyone is scary to approach and makes you feel inadequate. That’s what it’s like for me anyway.
17. For me, it’s being different enough to be noticed and alienated from other people, but being similar enough to know it and hate yourself for it. I’m high functioning, but I was always a little bit less developed than others my age and was always ostracized for it. Got bullied out of high school by former friends when I finally told them I was high functioning and haven’t ever finished. Now after isolating myself for 7 years, I have no idea how to make friends because social interaction is something that does not come naturally or easily to many of us. You can try and try to make friends but there is always the little voice reminding you that you are different and you are always paranoid that others notice. So you begin to hate yourself for it which then is noticed by others who then don’t want to be around you, further convincing you of your differentness. It is the most lonely feeling in the world to know how you are supposed to act and not be able to do so, as hard as you try. I would not wish it on anyone.
18. It’s really, really lonely. To be desperate to go out and be with people but at the same time have no idea how to interact with them. Left out of every conversation. Completely ignored.
The benefits are basically being able to concentrate on anything and really excel at it. Also not falling apart in an emergency, because the emotions of the situation don’t really come into play.
19. It’s hard to articulate; I can’t really note every difference from allism because I know nothing but autism as my baseline.
I know I have a peculiar experience of motion. My internal map of this body differs from the external, & I frequently move in ways that feel graceful but look odd. I particularly enjoy mimicking motions, such as reloading a revolver. I won’t sit down; I’ll stand & pace & do that, or perch on something because it feels good. I feel other people lack this joy in motion,
My hearing is sensitive, but also unclear: there’s a fine line between unintelligibly quiet & painfully loud. There are sounds in public that hurt worse than getting a new scar, & I have an instinctive terror of loud machine sounds. Washing machines, cars, etc. I wear headphones almost 12 hours a day; I love music.
In social situations, I struggle to read people. Eye contact feels like plugging my pupil into a live electric outlet. I’ve been called charming; I don’t find it complicated to imitate the manner of a charming person, & evidently understanding how it works isn’t required. Since people expect me to have “appropriate” body language, I’m generally not a bad mimic of other things. My natural body language includes bird-screams of joy (“wrrAAAAK!”), the classic hand flapping, odd contortions & spasms, & eyelid flickering. I have permanent visual “static” from frequently crushing my eyes under my knees as a child; I stopped.
I frequently self-injure, which I regard as normal and healthy for me. Allistic people’s squeamishness about it doesn’t particularly sway me. I tend to smile involuntarily when people are crying or angry, (not because I like this), so I’ll repress that with a quiet nail-scratch. I’ve been known to control rage by thumbnailing strips down my neck, bang my head into walls with distress, etc. One time, I expressed profound grief with injury. Not because I lost control of myself, but because I felt extreme injury demonstrated the depth of my feeling in a concrete manner. This was important to me. I’m not sure I relate to pain the way other people do.
I went a surprisingly long time without a diagnosis. Perhaps that’s part of why I like being autistic; it helped save me from thinking of myself as a broken-brained f*ckup. There are things I pursue perfection in single-mindedly, unusual perspectives I access. I see a lot of good in being exactly like I am.
20. One of the things that bother me most is that I have a very hard time expressing myself verbally. I am supposed to be high functioning and am overall pretty bright. But when it’s time to speak, I sound like a dumba*s.
Whenever I want to talk about something complex, I find myself struggling, it’s like somebody else is speaking in my place sometimes.
This can be quite frustrating. Imagine that you are an experienced stamp collector, and when somebody asks you about some of the interesting aspects of your hobby, you can’t get past: ‘I find stamps pretty’. (whilst being fully aware how retarded that sounded)
This is obviously an exaggeration, but that’s pretty much how I feel sometimes.