What makes me autistic?

It’s always hard for me when I have too much time on my hands, and at the moment, I decidedly have too much time on my hands!! With Harvey still devastating Texas (though I’m told the sun is shining in Houston, finally), I’m still at my mother’s place. But everyone else here has to work. Which leaves me with not a lot to do other than clean. I’m doing my part, albeit, I probably could do more… I don’t know where things go, though, so I can’t do too much more.

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I’ve been keeping the kitchen clean, which isn’t an easy feat with 6 adults, a toddler, and a whole pack and a half of dogs going through it at any given moment. I’ve also done a great deal of laundry, though I’m guilty of not folding it… Not yet. There’s time, though.

In the meantime, I’ve been talking with friends back in Houston, seeing how they’re coping with the tragedy that has been Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey. I feel a little bit useless so far away, but I wouldn’t know what to do if I was there either, so perhaps it’s better that I just try to keep people’s spirits up from afar.

I’ve been chatting with Goodreads Guy again. He’s very good for a distraction, He really should write his own smut; he’s quite good at it… Better now that I finally got him to stop trying to do the teacher/student fantasy. That’s just not a thing I’ll ever be into.

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Meanwhile, I’ve wanted to write, but seem to be stuck, so instead I read. I’ve been reading the Norse Myths as written by Neil Gaiman. They’re good. Not that I had any doubt that they would be… And the older of my two brothers gave me the Expanse series to get started on. If I like them, I might get a set of my own for my classroom. I need some teen friendly books of varying genres.

I’ve also read some articles I had saved about being autistic and female.

One in particular was really helpful for me: “Why do I think I’m autistic?”

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See, sometimes I think maybe I’m wrong about having Asperger’s Syndrome (or Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD).

So many people seem convinced that I don’t, that I sometimes think maybe I’m wrong. And I did have someone (a graduate intern in the psych department) tell me I had Borderline Personality Disorder once when I was in college… but I read so many articles where they discuss how autistic girls are often misdiagnosed as having BPD… But, especially after someone I’ve dated tells me they don’t think I have Asperger’s, there’s always this little twinge of doubt that goes through me and makes me wonder if the old diagnosis (BPD) is correct, and the new one (ASD) is the wrong one.

Men I date sometimes accuse me of being manipulative, which makes no sense to me. Sometimes I’m not aware of my feelings, or how they come across. The Ex, that was a big issue we had. A lot of guys, actually, that is an issue I have. I get very into them, and then sometimes they take it to mean something different than what it means. Then sometimes, like with the Last Guy, I think that they’re misinterpreting my feelings and then in reality I’m not aware of how strong my feelings are.

The Ex once told me, very, very early on, that he didn’t think I was a nerd because I have social skills and those are hard. Well, social skills I can fake, but feelings are hard for me.

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My ability to at least function in social settings is another thing that sometimes makes me think my diagnosis is wrong. More and more, however, I’m becoming aware of how things I thought I was good at, I’m really not.

Like, I would have told you before that I can read people (a decidedly NOT autistic trait). It’s not that I can read people, but that my theatre training gives me some insight about facial expressions, and then I can logically work out what would do, or what the logical thing to do would be. The problem is that people are not logical, and things that are logical to me, are not always logical to other people because my logic is somewhat intertwined with my emotions… as chaotic as those are.

See how I might get confused about my diagnosis being wrong?

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But when I read that article (the one linked above), it helped to alleviate my fears. There’s a whole list of things that I can relate to on this list (Warning: there’s a lot… making this a longer post than normal)…

  • Making lists and prioritizing said lists? Never have been able to do that. My mom, my friend the Olde Man, the friend I lost due to the situation with the Last Guy, they’ve all attempted to help me make lists and identify what was priority in those lists. Often the lists deal with bill paying…. I really suck at executive functioning where money is concerned.
  • I’m hypersensitive to smells and sounds, some tastes as well. First date with the Ex? Couldn’t stomach the Pho because of the licorice smell. I can’t have fajitas at a Mexican food restaurant because the sizzling of the fajita plate, along with the burning metal smell from the plate make me uncomfortable. I hold my breath any time they carry fajitas to another table, even.
  • Circular talking. Even in my writing, I tend to go in circles.
  • The part about trying to show that I like someone by becoming intensely focused on their interests, to the point of giving gifts that match the other person’s interests or doing activities I don’t enjoy in order to please the other person definitely fits. Like, when I bought the Ex those cufflinks with flash drives in them because his job dealt with computers… Or choosing a movie or restaurant that I think the other person might like, even if it’s something I’m not into. Later, once I think we’ve established a relationship, I expect it to be returned, or if (like with the Last Guy) they agree to do stuff I like, I assume they like me as much as I like them.
  • I’m not comfortable in crowds. If I have to walk in a crowded area, I’m worried about running into people because I’m never aware of how much space I take up. I usually walk one foot in front of the other in a slinky way… not to be sexy, but because then I know I won’t bump into people. Though, I’ve lost my slink due to hip and back problems in the last few years.
  • I stim. When no one is around, I like to dance around, whether there’s music or not. Or I suck my teeth, or just rubbing my tongue along the back of my teeth. I like to twiddle my thumbs to feel the texture of my fingernails. I used to rub my nails against my jeans, but I rarely wear jeans now. When I’m really upset, I rock and flap, but that’s very rare.
  • It’s hard to make me shut up when it’s something I like, and will bring the conversation back to my topic of choice, forcing the conversation into circles until I’ve finished my topic. I try to let others talk about what they want to, so that we end up having conversations like interlocking circles.
  • And don’t get me talking about movies… Just the other night, I told my family the entire plot of a movie that hasn’t come out yet because I told them the entire trailer from beginning to end, adding my guess as to the logical plot points in it. My almost sister-in-law asked me if I’d seen the movie, and my brother laughed and said “no, she just knows the whole trailer by memory.” My other brother kept interrupting me and we all joked about how he’d better stop because I’d have to keep starting over if he didn’t quit, and we’d never finish the conversation.
  • I hate group work, too. Other people won’t always want to do it my way, even when I explain why my way is the better way.
  • I also think in patterns. Often a circular pattern, and I get frustrated when trying to explain something and someone interrupts me because they feel like I’m being repetitive.
  • I think out full scripts of what I’m going to say in a variety of situations. Meaning that I tend to be repetitive, which has been commented to me by people who have heard me say exactly the same thing in certain situations. I was trying to make a point, and someone came in late, so I began back at the beginning. One of the people from that group of which I’m no longer a part (because of the Last Guy) asked me if I’d memorized what I was going to say about it. I didn’t know how to respond (wasn’t part of the script), but yes, it slows me down to think of a new way to say something when I know I’m right about something. Why say it different when the first way hits all the points effectively?
  • I hadn’t thought about the pressure against my body, but yes, I need a certain weight of blanket to sleep, and I sit with a leg under me because it’s more comfortable for me, in spite of how bad it is for my spine.
  • This one was a big surprise for me that others see this, too. Ever since I was young, I’ve thought that I could see air particles, or energy. When it’s totally dark, it’s like television static, but in confetti sprinkle colors, and then, as I calm down and get more into sleep mode, it begins to fall, slowly like nearly microscopic confetti drifting down from the ceiling. When I look at a blue sky, I sometimes see little specks floating in the sky, like music notes of a sing along app. When I read that this person saw something similar, I began to cry because it was a thing I’ve always kept to myself, thinking I was crazy… but maybe it’s just an autistic trait.
  • My dreams are insanely vivid, and tell whole stories, though they rarely make sense. The colors are vivid, and I can control my actions and sometimes the non-living elements in them. Like I often have dreams of being chased, but where I hide, the doors never fit the frame and, even if they aren’t designed to be, the doors turn into swinging doors. Once in a dream, someone showed me how to pull the door closed, so now, when I’m aware I’m dreaming, I can sometimes change the non-living elements.
  • I’ll re-watch movies several times over. Like I’ve watched “What happened to Monday” three times already (in a week), and will likely watch it again, especially if I can find someone to watch it with me. Especially if it’s someone with whom I can discuss it afterwards. There is only one book I reread, though: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I love the story about how fear came to the jungle. It’s one of my favorite stories of all time!
  • I am also empathetic, to the point of sometimes feeling what others are or should be feeling as if they were my own feelings. This was very noticeable to me in high school, and, in order to hide from it, I began self-medicating with sugar. On a sugar high, I don’t feel anything except the sugar.
  • Like I said, feelings are hard for me, and yes, as is stated in the article, I sometimes struggle to identify physical sensations as well. There have been times during intimate moments when my partner will ask me if something feels good, and I can’t honestly tell them. Or there are things that they ask that have been established to be sexy talk, but I can’t answer them because, while it does feel good, I couldn’t tell you honestly how it felt. My first time was like that. I thought it was because my first partner wasn’t a large man, but in reality, I just couldn’t distinguish certain physical sensations from one another. Too much stimulation left me uncertain what was happening with my body, other than it felt nice.

And that is only about 2/3 of the way through her list… I relate to so many things!

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Suffice it to say that I no longer question because there are other autistic people who feel and do similar things.

 

About Elizabeth

First and foremost I am a teacher. What I teach is a blend of grammatical art, literary love, and a smidge of spiritual awareness. My blog tries to combine the best of all three over a cup of tea.

4 thoughts on “What makes me autistic?

    1. Maybe not if there were one or two of them, or if it was to a mild extent. Also I didn’t go through the whole list because I was already way past what I considered an acceptable word count. When I say I talk in circles, I don’t mean the average just going back to the same topic as someone who wants to finish their conversation. I mean I had a psychiatrist tell me I have tangential thinking, where I have to explain things, giving examples as I go so I talk in in loops always coming back to the same topic, sometimes for hours until I’ve gotten to the end of the topic. Or I legitimately have a fear of running into people in crowds which causes me to walk in an abnormal way to avoid touching people, The “slink” is what a friend of mine called it. He said I glided through a room and it was elegant, but I will also contort myself and squeeze through at weird places in order to not touch people, I also have a problem recognizing faces, which bothers my students because I will confuse kids that look nothing alike until I find something that sets them apart, like the way they stand or the sound of their voice, I usually identify them by where they sit, but if they move, I’m screwed, and I don’t do mandatory seating charts. A lot of how I described my experiences were in response to how she labeled them in her own post, and so perhaps I didn’t explain it well. Like with the lists, she was talking about struggling with executive functioning, a thing I also struggle with, but not just in that I can’t make a list and follow it, which, true, is not an unusual trait, but in such a way that I’ll go round and round in circles trying to figure out how I should even begin and eventually give up and just go to sleep. In college, my mother had to come and help me clean my dorm room or apartment several times because I couldn’t figure out how to do it and would just walk past the mess to go to my room. People thought I was depressed when I would try to explain it, but it wasn’t depression. I legitimately didn’t know where to start and would get frustrated and give up. I hope that clarifies…

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