I'm going to post a bunch of questions I wish I had been asked in this context, years ago. This is not diagnosis! But it's instructive.
Do you make puns? Do you hear double-meanings in things others say and riff on them? Even to the point of annoying others? Do you compulsively point out ambiguity, even if you've parsed it?
"But this isn't a disability!" I hear you say. Well, right!
Sensory Processing issues are annoying to me - but there are folks for whom physical touch feels like fire.
But not every trait, not all the time.
It just means that as long as we put forward sustained effort every day for our entire lives we can feel more or less normal. And we learn to hate our real selves.
This can be, like, researching the civil war or collecting stamps or being super into video games - anything we can focus on all deeply and never get bored.
Masking is about not being your self, because it doesn't work in public.
And then you go decades without realizing you're not who you think you are.
If you are #actuallyAutistic and want me to add something to this hit me up and let's talk about it!
If you're not, this information could save a life. RT this thread, please.
Stims are often unique to person. Examples could be: lapping hands, fidgeting, cracking knuckles, biting nails, phone use, exercise - so many!
But this is natural, happy, comforting behavior that hurts nobody. Stop shaming us for your discomfort, please.
Intersectionality applies to all of this, and women on the spectrum face unique challenges independently of the difficulties getting diagnosed.
The state change just sucks!
It's gross, it sucks. But it me!
For _years_ I dealt with this.
OCD doesn't mean you're autistic - but they are often comorbid.
But for most people, communication has this dual purpose of ALSO sharing emotions.
"How was your day?" can mean "I love you."
And that's just not obvious to us.
Now I only fuck it up often.
But understand this:
Why, though, is that on me?
How often do neurotypical people try to adapt to MY needs?
Honestly, I'm tearing up thinking about it. Thank you all for reading.
You've probably read that autistic people don't feel empathy. This was medical fact for a long time, and understanding how it's wrong can explain a lot of the antipathy the autistic community feels towards the medical one.
It broke my heart.
But it's not me.
Like so many other 'deficits', this is only a deficit if you define neurotypical behavior as objectively correct.
Do you know how much information we get from looking you in the eye? Many of us can read more from your face than you could read from our biographies.
This is not a lack of empathy. This is overload.
I am not an expert. I am self-diagnosed, after careful analysis and a ton of reading and listening to people.
I am describing my experience, and adding things I've read others say. I may be wrong!
You may be neurodivergent but not autistic! I don't know, not exactly!
Still: if you think I got something wrong, please tell me and let's discuss it!
So, there are all these terms - neurodivergent, neurotypical, autism, autism spectrum disorder, autism spectrum condition, aspergers syndrome, kanners syndrome - confusing, yeah?
Here's my own glossary of meanings:
Autism Spectrum Disorder is when a person is disabled due to their autistic traits.
Autism Spectrum Condition is when person has autistic traits, but is not necessarily disabled by them. (this is where I identify)
Took years to realize everyone was looking at the same thing.
Confusing to many Aspergers patients who were really glad they weren't autistic, as it turns out. Lots of conflict, here.
But 'mostly passing' with regular nervous breakdowns is no kind of life!
Your psychiatrist or therapist probably hasn't, unless they're doing a great job of listening to and believing autistic people.
Autistic Burnout is what happens when you spend all day every day 'passing'.
For me this looked like a 14 hour sleep and a foggy brain, with weird confusing emotions.
"Why is life so hard for me?" you'll ask. "Nobody else is struggling, wtf?!"
And it _sucks_.
If under high stress, days.
And if you don't know what's going, that's your life.
Well, think about how you'd feel in the following situations:
You apologize for making it about you.
And that's why you're so surprised when suddenly your life is misery! You no longer control your surroundings, and can't even explain why you need things a different way. You compromise.
You save a step and act how you think others want you too.
Are you even alive?
Do you know how many of us kill ourselves? It's a lot.
Listen, finding out I was autistic was the best thing that ever happened for me. It was painful, for a while - it's a lot to process, and there's a lot to unlearn - but I see a clearer path now than I ever have.
I see you. ❤️