GODS DAMN it has been way too long since I’ve blogged. And my first entry after my long absence is on…a thing I have not mentioned in any of my previous lists of topics I want to tackle. Yay!
I talk about autism a lot, seeing as I’m Autistic as all fuck, but today I want to talk about some lesser known Autistic traits and tendencies. I’ve discussed a few well-known traits such as meltdowns, having special interests, difficulties with verbal communication, and poor executive function, but I want to list and describe some of the lesser known Autistic traits (and some commonly co-occurring disabilities) because, well, they’re lesser known and they shouldn’t be. The more information about autism is out there, the more diagnoses can be made. Oh, and many of these traits are more commonly missed by professionals when they’re seen in cis women. (HOWEVER, that does not mean that they are exclusive to cis women, or women in general. I’m merely remarking on the incompetence of people who are supposedly qualified to diagnose autism.)
I’m going to start by coining a term: chronagnosia. I will later mention prosopagnosia (face blindness), so I used the Greek root for “time” with “agnosia” (inability to interpret sensory information and as such recognize things) to get “chronagnosia”, or “time blindness”. Chronagnosia is, essentially, being shit with time. To put it slightly more eloquently, chronagnosia is inability to conceptualize time. My chronagnosia manifests as a near-complete inability to tell how long a particular event or activity has taken.
Some other “atypical autism” traits are:
- Poor sense of self. Some Autistic people have personalities that shift, sometimes dramatically, depending on who they’re around. These people may also be highly susceptible to taking on personality traits of their friends and families. (Am I like that because I’m Autistic? Is it because of trauma? Is it because I’m borderline? Nobody knowwwwwwws!)
- Strong or overdeveloped sense of justice. Uh…if you read my blog at all, you’ll probably have a sense for what this looks like. This also can manifest in a fiery, burning hatred for being misunderstood.
- High emotional sensitivity. This can manifest by crying, yelling, or even having meltdowns over wounded feelings. No, this isn’t something you can just decide to not feel, and people who think you can simply turn this trait off need to be punched.
- Being neurogender or gendervague. “Neurogender” refers to someone’s gender being powerfully affected or influenced by their neurodivergence; “gendervague” is a label used by people whose neurodivergence means that they can’t conceptualize gender.
- Difficulty spending time on personal “grooming” tasks such as showering, combing hair, and changing into clean clothes. This is often due to poor executive function or sensory issues.
- Extreme intellectual capability in some areas, but great difficulty with the social aspects of school. To put it another way, many Autistic people have tried college and couldn’t handle the non-academic aspects of it, and may have one or many partial degrees.
- Preferring the company of animals to people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0THbJgMW6NY
- Awkwardness around people who are of romantic and/or sexual interest. Also, not knowing how to flirt or recognize flirting. (This one can sometimes change with age and experience.)
- Difficulty enjoying sex due to sensory issues.
- Being significantly better at socializing with small groups than large ones, but still with a tendency to shut down, withdraw, or cry when confronted with large groups. Alternatively, some Autistic people may have developed noteworthy acting skills as a survival mechanism and can appear at ease in social situations despite actually feeling stressed or uncomfortable. (This is me. This is me in spades.)
- Often being perceived to be cold, withdrawn, or unfriendly, but with the tendency to become animated and almost joyful at the opportunity to talk about a special interest.
Commonly co-occurring disabilities:
- Anxiety disorders. If not diagnosable GAD or other anxiety disorders, anxiety, fear, and paranoia are dominant emotions.
- Depression or mood swings. If not diagnosable MDD or dysthymia, persistent sadness or muted/depressed mood is common in Autistic people. Probably because we’re constantly being bombarded with the message that we shouldn’t exist. That’d make anyone depressed.
- Hyperlexia, which means learning to read early with accompanying difficulty using verbal language and/or with social interaction.
- Prosopagnosia. Also called face blindness, this is the inability to recognize faces. I have a small degree of prosopagnosia; I can recognize people, but I commonly mix up people who look similar.
- Expressive agnosia. This is the inability to recognize other people’s moods or read facial expressions.
- Alexithymia. This is a term for the inability to understand or express emotions. To put it more bluntly, it’s being crap at knowing what you’re feeling.
- Sensory sensitivities and/or sensory processing disorder (SPD). This is usually broadly defined as the sensory signals received by the brain are not processed into an appropriate response. For Autistic people, though, this usually means that certain sensory inputs are intolerable.
- Auditory processing disorder (APD). This is similar to SPD, except the sensory signals that aren’t processed correctly are related to sound. A brief and common story about APD follows: “Hey, can you pass me the remote control?” “What?” “Can you pass me—“ “Here’s the remote.”
- Difficulty understanding verbal instructions. This one is fairly self-explanatory (and can be related to the aforementioned APD).
- ADHD and autism have a lot in common, but some traits that are more common with ADHD and less common autism include impulsivity, inability to sit still, distractibility, and forgetfulness. While one can be mistaken for the other, they also commonly co-occur.
- PTSD, CPTSD, or other trauma-related disorders. We’re at high risk for being abused. We’re also often highly sensitive. Trauma-related disorders may result.
- Gastrointestinal issues. I know, I know, there’s a lot of bullshit about how “bad bacteria” or “toxins” in the gut cause autism, and it truly is grade-A bullshit, but many Autistic people have irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, acid reflux, etc.
I………………………………………..think that’s all for now? I have a feeling I’ll come back and add things to this after I post it.
Mentally ill activist and angry Disabled loudmouth. Neuroqueer as hell.