My Traits

Looking at getting an official diagnosis, I’m having to think about why I think I may have ASD. A lot of people don’t realise that I’m this way because I’ve become very good at “masking”, as most females with ASD do. It’s a reason why so many more males are diagnosed than females. Anyway, here’s the list I’m working on:

Sensory, Sensitivity and Motor Issues:

  • Very picky eater, yet the dislike of food is almost always down to texture and temperature rather than taste – I gravitate towards crunchy or chewy foods, chips have to be over cooked, I don’t like sandwiches unless the bread is toasted, and toast has to be buttered while hot so the butter melts I’ve always disliked most vegetables and beans due to the texture.
  • Very sensitive to scents. Musky fragrances can trigger a migraine, floral fragrances are irritating. I only ever use unscented laundry detergent. Unpleasant smells make me gag very easily.
  • As a child, I used to have meltdowns going to school because I couldn’t bear my teacher’s body odour. It was bad enough for me for the teacher and headteacher to have to hold a meeting with me and my mum.
  • I get really irritated if someone sprays a perfume near me.
  • Certain sounds can be too distracting to focus.
  • I’m very clumsy and have no coordination. I’m often tripping over my own feet or walking into things.
  • I can often learn the theory of something but I’m unable to show it in practice. For example, I find music theory very easy, but I struggle to play an instrument.

Social and Language Issues:

  • I’m very shy. If someone is in my way, I often don’t feel comfortable saying “excuse me” to get them to move.
  • I’ve always been told I’m selfish or insensitive, and people used to find me rude as a child as I would say offensive things without realising.
  • I’ve always hated working in groups.
  • I’ve never fitted in with a group of friends. I’ve found I could often join friendship groups at school, but always as an outsider. The others would often socialise outside of school but I usually didn’t.
  • Preferred to stay inside and play on my own as a child, or read, even when all the other kids played outside.
  • Making friends was never an issue, but keeping friends was.
  • As an adult I have social anxiety that can feel very severe at times. Socialising is exhausting and never feels worth it.
  • I’d rather do things by myself that a lot of females like to do in groups or with partners – shopping, cinema, travelling, eating out.
  • Socialising in a group is very stressful for me. It feels like each person is speaking a different language. If several people are talking at once I can’t follow anything. If more than one person is talking to me I want to put my hands over my ears and scream.
  • I struggle with knowing when it’s “my turn” to speak.
  • I hate being interrupted because it’s so hard for me to talk, and I feel like I can’t pick up from the point I was interrupted at and have to start at the beginning.
  • I don’t always pick up on sarcasm and can get very offended by “banter”, things said in jest.
  • I’m always the last to get jokes, and usually need them explaining. It’s very upsetting for me when I don’t understand them.
  • I’m told I overshare, or say too much. I’m told to stop talking about certain things in front of everyone.
  • I’m told that people find me annoying because I’m loud and squeaky, or they think I sound like a child.
  • I’m often told to stop shouting when I never even knew I was.
  • I find it difficult to tell when I’ve offended someone or made them jealous unless they tell me. They usually don’t understand how I could not be aware that they would be feeling that.
  • Once I’m focussing on a small detail of what someone has said, I can’t process the rest of the conversation.
  • People call me a know-it-all, but that’s because while being of higher than average intelligence, I will only state facts as facts if I’m 100% certain of them, and if I’m not, I will check them because I hate not knowing something.
  • I have often found myself in awkward situations with men that I haven’t realised were flirting. There have been countless occasions where I’ve ended up feeling like I’ve had to sleep with someone because I’ve realised I’ve led them on by welcoming their “friendliness”.
  • I’ve never had a long term relationship because I’m too hard work.
  • It’s very rare I connect with anyone so when I do, I become too obsessed with them and push them away.
  • I hate when people assume they know what I’m thinking because they’re usually wrong.
  • People often use me and take advantage, because I can be very generous in an attempt to make and keep friends. I usually end up lending people money and never getting it back.
  • I’ve had people ask why I have to be so precise, for example, if they ask the time, I give it to the nearest minute. I doesn’t feel honest saying “quarter past three” if it is 3:16.
  • I can’t deal with the uncertainty of people. If someone says they might pop round, or they might ring me, I get really anxious waiting for them and feel unable to do anything else. It’s caused a lot of problems in relationships.
  • I hate when people act unpredictably. I get really upset if I don’t get the response I expected, and it’s not always because the response was bad, but because it threatens the existence of the world I thought I understood.
  • I can’t forget things that people have said in the heat of an argument. I’m often asked why I keep going on about something, but things like that stay right in the front of my mind unless I feel they’re sufficiently resolved.

Special interests:

  • I’m either not interested in something, or it becomes an obsession, and I’ll read anything I can on the subject to become an expert.
  • A lot of my special interests have reflected my desire to find some way to fit into society – I’ve researched several religions – Islam, Paganism, Buddhism, Taoism – and even languages – German, Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, BSL – to immerse myself in another culture to escape from the society that I feel I’m not part of.
  • I’m a qualified make up artist and use make up as a costume.
  • I seem more into collecting things to do with an subject, or making lists, than the actual subject itself. I often get bored of the subject once I’ve collected everything I can and move onto something else that becomes an obsession.
  • As a teenager I became addicted to RPG video games as I preferred that world. I used to skip classes to stay home and play games. I have to stop myself playing any games now because I just become addicted and they take over my life and I get depressed if my interests aren’t productive.
  • I like to be really good at something so when I start to find something difficult, I can give up and lose interest very quickly.
  • I love listening to music, almost any genre – classical, folk, indie, punk, country – except pop and dance music. When I find a song I like I can’t stop replaying it, and I have to be able to know all the lyrics so I can sing along. I also like to look up the meaning of the lyrics if it is obscure.

Other issues:

  • I suffer from depression, usually feeling misunderstood, feeling like a failure to myself and my daughter.
  • I struggle with anxiety, a lot of which I believe is related to ASD. Anxiety symptoms involve struggling to breathe, loss of appetite, and IBS in the form of painful abdominal spasms and diarrhoea.
  • The anxiety of being interrupted during a task is so bad that I find starting the task too overwhelming if I know I might be distracted.
  • I struggle to sleep and to stay asleep. I usually wake up between 2am and 4am and can lay awake until 6am sometimes. I have no problem sleeping during the day though in bright sunshine and the sounds of people shouting outside. I also struggle to stay awake in public transport.
  • I also go through phases of suffering with sleep paralysis.

The trouble with relationships

With Aspergers, feelings are usually intense or non-existent. You’re either not into something, or you’re so deeply into it that life without it seems pointless. The same goes for people. You don’t connect with people very easily, but once you do, you end up scaring them away. You become obsessed with love interests, and you become too attached and dependent in relationships. You’re told you’re too intense, too needy, you’re just too much. You’re madly in love with them. Once you feel like they understand you, they become everything to you. When you think you have a mutual understanding of things, when you read something wrong, no matter how minor, it feels like your world is falling apart. It’s because they a huge part of your world, a world you feel you have an understanding of, so any uncertainty can threaten the entire existence of that world. The world that you thought you knew, your comforts, suddenly become alien, and you feel so lost.

Of course, it can not be ignored that this is a lot of pressure for the other person, but when things start falling down, it is devastating. You’re told you’re catastrophising, you’re overreacting, you’re told to “chill out”. You’re fighting panic attacks, your body reacts to this intense anxiety by sending your stomach into turmoil. If only they knew how much you wish you could switch off these emotions, how much you wish that you weren’t feeling like this. If only they knew that you hate yourself for being like this.

All you wanted to do was love them, make them happy and enjoy their company. All you wanted from them was understanding and love. You’re madly in love with them, you’re devoted to them, and you are probably the most loyal, loving person they could ever meet. Surely that should be enough to make things work. It was enough yesterday, so why isn’t it today?

You crave to be held in their arms, safe, back in your world. You don’t know where you are right now and you want to scream and run away. Everything becomes unbearable; the noises in the background become deafening, the seams of your clothes rub away at your skin, the ends of your hair scratch your face and neck so you tie it in a bun, then you feel it wobble with every slight movement. You can smell every cleaning product you’ve ever used in your house, you can smell the unscented washing powder that you washed your clothes in, even though you ran them through an extra rinse cycle. You forget how to breathe, you can’t see anything, just flashing colours. You want to run away from this world. You scream to escape from the sensory overload. You’re told to stop being like this, but if only they knew how much you wish you weren’t this way. All you want is to understand this world.

Later, you’re calmer, but you’re feeling heartbroken. You feel like you’re not good enough for this world, you know you’re not good enough for this person. All you wanted to do was make them happy and love them with all your heart, but it’s not enough, because you’re too much. How can you continue to put this pressure, this expectation on someone you love? How can you expect someone to understand you when it’s too difficult to verbally communicate your feelings? But to lose them would be the end of the world as you know it.

Understanding Psychology with low Emotional Intelligence

It’s strange how I was watching a talk by Tony Attwood yesterday morning, where he mentioned how Aspies make great psychologists, and later I found myself wondering how my emotional intelligence can be so low, yet I’m so good at recognising behaviour in others when I’m viewing them from the outside. It’s so frustrating that I feel very vulnerable to abusive relationships and toxic friendships, but I have enough knowledge of psychology and human behaviour to point out patterns of abuse, and to help someone else rebuild their life after ending an emotionally abusive relationship.

The Exhaustion of Socialising

Trying to explain just how exhausting socialising is for an Aspie isn’t easy, getting loved ones to understand that while you can do it for a short period of time, but the exhaustion is real, and so is the need to take time out to recover is important. But how do you describe how difficult something is for you when it should be so easy?

It’s being physically ill with worry when you’re feeling nervous about going somewhere you’ll have to socialise.

It’s understanding that there are more to language than just the literal word being spoken, but being unable to follow the other aspects; the body language, the facial expression, the tone; and it’s the inability to process the spoken word fast enough to understand the meaning.

It’s like sitting in a room where everyone speaks a different language, and while you may have learned their language, switching from one to another is overwhelming.

It’s the choice of either standing there looking awkward, or acting out a body language like a complicated choreographed dance act that’s never come naturally to you.

It’s knowing you should give eye contact, but once you do, you’re so overwhelmed you can no longer hear what’s being said.

It’s wanting to scream when your speech is interrupted, because you’re putting so much effort into reeling off a monologue, and you fear that once you’re stopped, you won’t be able to restart without starting from the beginning.

It’s a group conversation where as soon as more than one person is talking, you can’t hear either, all you can feel is panic.

It’s trying to appear normal in a situation that feels so alien, so awkward, worrying that people will think you’re weird, inappropriate, or even rude.

It’s trying so hard to fit in and then being told that you’re either cold and don’t give much away, or told that you overshare.

It’s realising you sound very dull, monotone and disinterested in the subject, then going overboard in adding drama to your speech.

It’s nervously laughing because you’re unsure how you’re supposed to act, unsure whether someone is insulting you or just making a joke.

It’s needing the joke explained to you.

It’s appearing naive and childlike, very obvious emotional immaturity, so you’re not taken seriously when you know that you’re probably the most intelligent person in the room.

It’s the embarrassment when you start talking about something you’re passionate about and you get over excited, loud, and trip over your words.

It’s the fear of failure while knowing you’re hopeless at the task of socialising, resulting in the constant questioning of what you’ve said or done wrong, because no matter how you perfect your act, it all seems to come out wrong.

It’s the feeling of being attacked when you don’t get the response you expected.

It’s the frustration felt by your loved one because you still don’t understand what they’re trying to say.

Then, it’s needing to hide away in silence, sleeping for hours, because you’re too overwhelmed and socially exhausted, and you know that if you don’t, you’ll either shutdown or meltdown.