That’s an autism thing?!

Reading is a common visual stim!

Part of my experience discovering my neurodivergence was learning that myself and many other autistic’s are shocked to find out a lot of my quirks were “autism things”.

I reached out to a large group of women and asked them for their input for this post and am going to post this blog as a bullet list of all the input I received. Due to the group specifics I was only able to poll women, but would love to hear from anyone on any gender spectrum in the comments, and thank you again to everyone who contributed!

Being undiagnosed as a child led to a myriad of issues, one being that my headaches went unaccommodated and often thought of as a ploy to skip class, despite being the perpetual teachers pet.

  • Personally, my biggest shock was discovering I did not possess quite the high number of food allergies I thought I did. My childhood headaches were caused by sensory overload.
    • All through my adolescence, I would struggle with extreme anger and would shut-down for weeks at a time while stewing in how much I felt like i couldn’t fit in. I would float along as a shell of a person, sleeping as much as I could and barely being able to attend class, much less absorb the material. It wasn’t until now, 12 years later with an unofficial diagnosis, that I understand that what I was going through was not abnormal at all, but rather my body and mind telling me it needed to recover from a complete overload. -Celeste
  • I was surprised to find out that my dislike of showers is a pretty common autistic thing.- Cynthia
  • Having bad temperature regulation – I always wore the wrong clothes in the wrong season and even if it’s 40 degrees I have to wear pjs and have a blanket on -Trisha
  • I actually had no idea that I struggled with sensory issues until I discovered I was autistic. I simply believed what I’d always been told about myself, that I was moody and negative and had a bad attitude. I had cause and effect reversed in my mind: I thought things like bright light and wind bothered me because I was in a bad mood (for “no reason,” not understanding my bad mood was *because* of the sensory stuff).-Erin
  • My sensory issues. Cannot stand hair touching me – I always know when a hair has fallen out of my head and onto my back/shoulders etc. I can’t just leave it, I have to remove it. Headaches from walking past scented shops like Dusk. Plus discovering what executive functioning is and the issues that one with Autism may have – mixing up appointment dates, forgetting everything, that I’m not just lazy and forgetful.-Christy
  • I couldn’t understand why I got overwhelmed and angry on public transport ( I can’t drive) but found out it’s a sensory thing it was too busy! Also realizing that other people thought differently too me was a mind blower at 43 years old!!! -Beth
  • I was shocked to learn that the reason I can’t speak when someone is yelling at me is selective mutism from my autism. I just thought it was some sort of weakness or problem with my assertiveness.-Jay
  • I forget to drink – I don’t realise I’m thirsty. My mum would tell me to get drinks throughout the day when I was a child. I still don’t drink enough now but I try to. I also sometimes forget that I need to pee. I can say that I need to and an hour later, I’ve still not gone. I won’t remember until it aches when that happens. – Sarah
  • I have always had issues with people not following road rules eg. indicating or walking on the left of the path (I am in Australia. For most countries it would be the right side). I didn’t realise this inflexibility (I still get worked up over it) is part of my autism. It was only after being diagnosed I connected it.-Angela
  • I had no idea that my clothes affected my mood so much. Now that I have binned ALL my bras, ditched the knickers that repeatedly went up my arse, itchy jumpers, tight crotch trousers, high heels and anything that made me feel restricted when I put it on I became so much happier! I still wear nice clothes they’re just comfy! -Shelly
  • I didn’t realise my head scratching, obsessive plucking (eyebrow, chin and even leg hair) was stimming. -Shelly
  • I thought I didn’t stim at all, but it turns out almost everything I do is a stim! Knitting, humming, stroking my clothing, bouncing my feet, chewing my lips – instead of no stims, I have hundreds! I just flip back and forth among them depending on what’s most acceptable at the moment. Music playing? Rocking. Quiet test? Lip chewing. Subway ride? Knitting. Just washed my hands? Flapping! -Cynthia
  • My ‘restless leg syndrome’ was actually a sensory sensitivity. -Mary
  • That I wasn’t being “sulky,” and refusing to speak, I was having shutdowns.
  • That having a photographic memory was unusual.
  • That other people can visualise rather than just recall an image of text or a photograph – I can’t.
  • That I didn’t have childhood hearing problems, I have auditory processing problems.
  • That lots of autistic people can’t use telephones, it’s not me being lazy.
  • That I’m not an uncultured pleb who is unable to appreciate film, I just don’t like the overwhelming sound of cinemas and I need the subtitles, otherwise it’s just like going into a huge noisy factory where I have no idea what’s going on as I can’t follow the dialogue when there is background noise like whooshing and crashing. I still have no idea what happens in Star Wars even though I’ve seen it several times! -Julian
  • That when all my friends told me to stop complaining when I was cold because ‘we were all feeling the same’, we actually weren’t and I really did feel it more strongly.That other people reacted as strongly as I did when I had to hide upstairs under the covers when my Dad made tomato soup and I wasn’t just being stupidly fussy. – Lucy
  • I overshare when I’m nervous. Since my diagnosis I’ve discovered this is pretty normal among autistic people.-Heather
  • That my stubbornness was actually pda.-Tori
  • That people (even my mother) assuming I disliked them or “had an attitude” was my rigid body language and facial expression (or lack thereof), especially in high stimulation situations where I’m asked to process a lot at once. One boss I had pointed out the body language as the source of my issues with coworkers but assured me that “they need to learn to read me,” I don’t need to change.-Hannah
  • I walk in the side of my feet, when stressed though I was on my toes. I am also touch sensitive-Cheryl
  • Oversharing and talking constantly… interrupting people and not recognising any hierarchy… leading me to be often viewed as a bit of a rebel -Juliette
  • Compulsively repeating songs that my partner sings a snippet of! It didn’t occur to me that it was echolalia until about a week ago! -Clara
  • My bone idleness was in fact executive dysfunction -Em
  • Sitting, reading in an abandoned house or the library on my own for hours on end …finding other kids “childish”…being too honest! -Joanne
  • As a kid at parties, there would inevitably be a point where I would distance myself and sit away from the others staring out the window or I would run away home – I remember feeling hollow and as if I didn’t belong.
  • Growing up and see countless psychologists to help me overcome some invisible barrier that prevented me from making friends (which I now know is because I hate small talk and don’t connect the same way as other people. I now know that that barrier goes both ways – it’s not just me). My face skin-picking is stimming. Often as a kid (and sometimes now) I suddenly started feeling overheated and had seconds to tear off my clothes before I started feeling physically and emotionally distressed. -Carmen

2 comments

  1. Hi,
    I followed you across from TinyBuddha. I have a 7 yo girl with Autism and would love to delve into her mind. I look to adults like you for sharing what you experience to understand her. She is an enigma to me. Thank you so much for this blog.
    Can you write more about your childhood, experiences, school, anxiety, academic difficulties, etc ?! which may help me relate to my daughter.
    I sometimes wonder if my daughter would be able to write like you one day, share her world with us. Till then thanks to people like you who provide an insight to their world. Cannot thank you enough!

    Liked by 1 person

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