Many people think they know what autism is, but it can be much more complex than they often imagine. Here is some insight from people with autism.
Many thanks to the Redditors who responded. You can check out more answers from the source at the end of this article.
1. I was diagnosed with aspergers at the age of 11.
I feel like I'm part of a play where everyone has the script except me.
2. For me, horrible. I am lonely. I want to be around people so much. I love talking, they taught me to talk and forgot to give me others to talk to. I want to work, but I need supervision.
I hit my head on things when I am upset. I hate that. My arms flap when I am excited and people stare. People stare for other reasons too...
And I love children and children love me, they love to talk to me and ask questions, or talk to me about cartoons. I would never harm anyone but their parents act like their child is in danger it makes me feel like I am a terrible person.
Luckily now I am friends with an 8 year old and she is awesome, loves lego and we have a lot of talks about who is the best disney princess. Explorers (I told her about an explorer in lego Johnny Thunder who explored tombs and she has suddenly decided to love the idea) and also about doctor who and time travel (The back seat of her car is a time machine when we go anywhere!)
So I guess in short, Autism is lonely, it can cause a lot of pain, its like being trapped in a body that is only half loaded. Just cause people are aware of autism or accept autism, doesn't mean they will make time for those with autism.
Also I wish I could dress and shower myself and care for myself better and also go out on my own. I would go out every day. :)
Friends make it easier.
3. While I live a pretty normal life I have a lot of issues with sensory sensitivity. Like loud noises, bright lights, certain food tastes, smells and standing in crowds of people. These things make me feel a bit stressed out resulting in various issues like headaches and digestive problems.
While we're on the subject. Certain non-autistic people have the misconception that those of us on the spectrum would "lack empathy". That is simply not true. We often have a hard time to "read" people, but we certainly do not lack human empathy. That needed to be said.
4. Social interactions that come to others naturally, require a lot of thought and planning in my situation. For lack of a better analogy, I have mental checklists for every social event under the sun.
Obsessions are amped up from non-autistic people,as are following rituals, every night when I get home, I have dinner, and watch the Simpsons, no ifs ands or buts.
I work as a chef, and my supervisor and I have a certain codeword (traffic) that if I mention it out of the blue , it means 'I need to cool off for a few, I'm getting overloaded here.'
5. My go to analogy is to imagine being in a country where nobody speaks English and you don't speak their language. You don't have a phrasebook but you do have a translation dictionary. So you are speaking the words but the syntax is way off, not to mention accent and pronunciation. You might think you're making sense and communicating well but really people will be confused by you.
6. You know that time you said something stupid and everyone looked at you like you grew a second head? Imagine feeling like that every time you talk to someone.
7. I have high functioning autism as well as anxiety so some of this may be the anxiety but I find it really hard maintaining friendships at all for example I left 1.5 years ago and haven't spoken to one of them in over a year because I quite honestly didn't know how.
I also find communicating really hard. It takes a lot of effort and I would find meeting someone new really hard with me having no Idea where to go past hello and me getting a stutter is also quite likely.
I don't cope well with changes from a routine, for example I will eat the same meals each day and foods but going off of it is really quite stressful
I am also really bad with emotions and I rarely talk about them at all (and wont unless im prompted explicitly) and am really oblivious on the whole and really can't explain it, a bit like trying to explain what left is to someone with no place to reference
A bit of another side effect is at the moment I have no social life as I don't know how to keep one (the last one I had was at school and I wouldn't describe it as close owning to the fact I never saw them outside of school) nor get one as I don't know how to meet people.
What comes naturally to most people takes a lot of learing for me and I always felt a step behind if not further.
At the moment at least, I would love to be just a normal person and have this sort of stuff come naturally
All in all I would say a bit lonely and frustrating when I notice, I am quite happy most of the time but just the smallest thing can hit and change that. I am doing what I can to get better but ti takes a lot of effort for what is for most people as simple as writing
8. 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 apologising 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 not 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 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 stuff to adults, and as I was undiagnosed until 18 people just thought I was ill-mannered. My psychologist has helped me heaps, and my mum has been great ever since I received a diagnosis...and she apologised for all the butt kickings as a kid (haha).
Not so much any more, 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 in Autistic kids.
I would like to say that life is far better for me now than it was as a child, 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 :)
9. It's hard, not only socially but also in school. I can't understand what the questions are asking me because I always interpret it in another way. Expecially the questions like "Why did the author write this, how does the author feel?.. etc." I would always question if I was reading this answer correctly, and my teachers would get frustrated with me due to the excessive amount of questions I asked.
Socially I've managed to cope with my autism, I was quiet in middle school and a little bit of high school. I figured out I'm best at making myself look ridiculous in front of people. I now just laugh at myself and I seem to fit in, however most of the time I don't really catch on to my friend's jokes or opinions.
10. 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 myself 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 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 peoples pain. I don't feel sympathy for anyone except my son, and even then it's only for some things. I don't feel badly 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.
11. 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 pokerface 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.
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.
Unusualsoup [the person who posed the question], you have just made me a really happy lady. ( I just created an account to respond to you, I read threads and have never felt the need to respond) I am a 25 year old nanny to an autistic 5 year old, I can read him faster than anyone else can. I've learnt to adapt to his needs, and with therapy and a specialist and lots of coaching, he is a very verbal child now. The stares and rude comments from strangers are very upsetting. But thankfully he is oblivious to them for now.
He loves routine, and used to be very obsessive about every little thing in his daily life. He has really come out of his shell in the last two years. But he is very selective of who can be around him.
It is so nice and refreshing to see such a nice person on the internet and know that my cute little 5 year old has the chance to one day be comfortable to talk to strangers. Thank you SO much for giving me a little hope on a rough day. All the best to you!
Thumbnail Photo: Elena Efimova / Shutterstock