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Skipeople

231d

I'm a 32 yr old female (AFAB). My therapist is a licensed social worker, so she cannot officially diagnose me, but she suspects I am neurodivergent and on the spectrum. I see where she may be coming from, but I have this part of me that doesn't believe it. I dont know if I don't want to believe it or if I genuinely am not someone with ASD. For example, I make eye contact with folks when we talk, though it does feel weird and I have to mentally tell myself to look away to not make it awkward. I understand sarcasm and jokes (most of the time) and I can be empathic. I can tolerate small talk, even though it makes me anxious. And I understand the back and forth roles of conversation. I do tend to try to finish other people's sentences or interpret which I'm working on. I think she is primarily focusing on my social phobia/terrible anxiety. I get anxious from anticipating possible social interactions and I have a lot of physical symptoms that come with that. I prefer spending most of my time alone playing games, doing art, or diamond painting. I do get lonely sometimes, but its hard to reach out to my two friends to tell them I need socialization time. I dont know what to think, I guess. Do you think I should try to get tested?

Top reply
    • Chronicallyenby

      226d

      @Ash.G apparently, when one person is neurodivergent it is common that others in a family unit are as well.

    • MrPig

      226d

      I wouldn't just look at adhd or asd... borderline personality disorder has so many similar traits... as I'm sure with many people, once you start digging you find allsorts... definitely not a negative thing as just having an understanding of what's going on can help

    • StitchYang

      226d

      Exactly same here

    • AnimalBoy

      227d

      That sounds a lot like masking. The things you listed that you *could* do you mention that you're uncomfortable or anxious doing them, which is a pretty good sign that maybe you wouldn't be if you weren't expected to or even shouldn't be as much if social interactions like these wear you down. Autism is a spectrum disorder which means that it's symptoms and severity levels are incredibly individual and plenty of people on the less severe end of the spectrum Can do the things you listed, as well as other things that are common symptoms like going off routine, but are still uncomfortable or become fatigued from doing it too much. I even choose to make eye contact with my partner because I like looking at his eyes, but it makes it more obvious that I learned from a young age how to fake eye contact because the only time I'm comfortable with eye contact is when my eyes dart from one eye to the other, and even then I'm painfully aware of how strange that is even though I dont feel the need to mask in that situation. I can also make "normal" eye contact when needed and then go about my day but it still makes me uncomfortable, and I'm good at faking it so I'd rather not do that if I don't have to. For a long time I didnt even think I was uncomfortable with small talk, I like talking to people even though I get anxious and I can fixate on some topics that count as small talk as other people's pets tend to fall under my SpIns just enough that it's fine, I just thought other topics were kind of boring and that's why I always wanted out and got fidgety. I didn't realize that small talk was disregulating my sensory input and causing me to be over or under stimulated. It can be real easy to miss or brush stuff off because its "not that big of a deal" but that's not how spectrum disorders work, you either experience symptoms or you don't and that's what dictates a diagnosis, not how bad those symptoms are or how bad they could be in comparison to others.

      • AnimalBoy

        227d

        @AnimalBoy That isn't to say you definitely have it, there are other conditions that could match that description too like ADHD and many of these conditions are comorbidities, but it doesnt hurt to look into it and do research on Autism and other neurodivergent conditions especially from the perspective of those with the condition and their experiences, to help get an idea of where you feel you land. You can try using the RAADS-R test as an online test, it isnt a diagnosis but it is used as a diagnostic tool by professionals so it is more reliable for gauging where you're at.

        • Skipeople

          227d

          @AnimalBoy Thanks! Very helpful to hear/read. I did take the RAADS-R test yesterday and it explained I may be autistic. I'd have to look up the score again, I downloaded the results to share with my therapist. The more I look into the criteria and at my way of being, I do believe I am neurodivergent and on the spectrum. I know I dont have ADHD. I do have anxiety and depression and OCD and an eating disorder. All which can link back to ASD in some form or another as well. I've also been looking into how to stop masking when alone and just yesterday, I let myself be free to express my anxoety woth my body and I felt better after a few hours. I think my next step will be trying to connect more with the community online.

    • 55isMe

      227d

      In medical stuff, there isnt much cut and dry. Whether your at 1/10 scale or 10/10, simply use the info to better understand yourself. If a symptom os bad enough, then use the info to consider medications or therapy to help.

    • MeeB333

      228d

      I’m almost a decade older than you, & only recently realized in the last few years I am neurodivergent af, lol. :-) Received an official diagnosis of ADHD-I(inattentive type, but do probably have some overlapping symptoms of other types)& unofficial diagnosis of ASD, which I was somewhat reluctant to accept at first, due to all the stigma & misconceptions about being on the Autism spectrum. But, it became increasingly obvious, after seeing so many videos & articles (on TV & online) of people, particularly females, who were not diagnosed until later in adulthood, & crying every single time, as I related so much to all of their stories, like hearing someone speak my own language for the 1st time. I always knew & would tell others that my brain just literally doesn’t work like other people’s, but never even heard “neurodivergent” used as a term to describe this until only a couple of years ago, & I was actually super relieved to finally get this validation that I’m not “crazy” & my brain, indeed, does not function like a “normal”(i.e., neurotypical) person’s does…! I’ve since taken several home tests that are easily found online(Search: free Autism ASD diagnostic test) from reputable websites & various organizations, & all of them confirm that the likelihood of my being ASD is very high, so that basically is confirmation, short of an official diagnosis, & my doctors concur. (Self-diagnosis is extremely common & very much supported by ASD community online.) Old models for understanding & diagnosing neurodivergence focused on children & only primarily on males, although young boys & girls tend to present differently, with varying symptoms, & girls are also generally more adept at masking than boys, so we tend to hide our symptoms better, which makes it clear to see why so many of us are either misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed until later in our adult years. Like you, I’ve always had bad(both Generalized & Social/Agoraphobia) Anxiety, & eye contact (both too much & too little) has always been an ongoing issue for me, as well as having a tendency to finish other’s sentences. I am highly intelligent & was an academically successful student, too, despite high anxiety & difficulty functioning, so that undoubtedly contributed to my late diagnoses, as well. I also prefer alone time to social interactions, & I like to hyper-focus on any number of various artistic endeavors, hobbies, & other things that I enjoy doing by myself, rather than being in social situations or participating with what other people call “fun,” but looks like literal torture to mee!! :) Also, I’m extremely empathic, in spite of my aversion to being around people, lol. ;) If you feel like an official diagnosis would help you in some way, you should absolutely seek out a professional who specializes in diagnosing neurodivergent adults. For me, personally, I am definitely going to pursue this avenue, as I am sure that it will be beneficial and aid in my efforts to amass further documentation to support seeking financial assistance from the government for all of my many health & mental health issues and disabilities. It’s up to you to determine whether or not seeking an official diagnosis would be helpful to you & your particular situation & circumstances, but self-diagnosis is a perfectly acceptable option, either way, & there is a plethora of information & various communities online for neurodivergent individuals & specifically for adults, like ourselves. Instagram is the platform where I found this app advertised, as well as where I really started to learn a lot about neurodivergence, so that would be my recommendation. And, please, don’t be discouraged by the fact that “Disorder” is in the name of ASD, as it is actually somewhat of a misnomer, since neurodivergence does not indicate a disorder or dysfunction, but, rather, DIFFERENT FUNCTIONING of our brains from the neurotypical general public population. There is nothing “wrong” with us, & we don’t need “fixing.”

      • Skipeople

        228d

        @MeeB333 Thank you for this reply. Almost everything you mentioned you do, I do as well. Oddly enough, ever since my therapist mentioned ASD, I've been hyperfocused on it. I had never considered for myself before, as someone that has worked at literal jobs helping those on the spectrum. I feel almost bad for not recognizing my own symptoms and assuming I didn't "fit the bill" of ASD. The more I look into how adult females present, the more I feel confirmed and validated.

        • MeeB333

          227d

          @Skipeople - You’re very welcome! So glad I could be of help 2 U on your journey of self discovery!! :) I wish I’d realized sooner, so I’m grateful 4 the opportunity 2 assist in anyone else’s realization, confirmation & validation. It’s probably super common for those of us with adult ASD, & particularly for women, to be so used 2 masking, hiding & dealing with our own symptoms that this is our “normal,” & we don’t even recognize these “quirks” as symptoms because we have assimilated into society well enough that we don’t notice the fact that it takes extra effort for us simply to exist in this world, which is obviously made by & for neurotypical individuals. Also, it is likely that most of us have been conditioned to think that an ASD diagnosis is indicative of some kind of disorder/dysfunction, as well as significant disabilities and developmental delays & difficulties, so, for those of us who are above average intellectually & very high functioning, it is easy to see how diagnoses can be missed for so long. I hope that you’re able to find the answers that you’re seeking. Understanding ourselves better will also be helpful 2 others, since, as we better educate ourselves about neurodivergence, we will be better equipped & able to educate others, &, hopefully, society’s perceptions will change. :-)

    • CatherineDerry

      229d

      Honestly, as someone on the spectrum as well, it sounds to me like you may be at the higher functioning end of the spectrum. But don't worry! It's nothing to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done for it, except certain therapy methods. If you really want a definitive answer, get tested. I don't have an "official" diagnosis because I haven't been through the official tests. But I've had several psychiatrists and therapists agree I have ASD. I am almost 45 years old, so I'm not going to bother getting tested. It'll just be another thing to add to my list.

    • Ash.G

      230d

      I did binders worth of research before I ever had someone look at me and say you definitely are autistic. I didn't do just the research on how I'm autistic but also how my brothers are how my dad is and my granddad and my mom's side. My mom has ADHD at least according to me.

      • Chronicallyenby

        226d

        @Ash.G apparently, when one person is neurodivergent it is common that others in a family unit are as well.

    • Xanadu750

      230d

      Hi✋ look up some articles about women on the spectrum, symptoms can be very different for girls and women and are often missed because they 'mask' their whole lives without realising 👍

      • Skipeople

        230d

        @Xanadu750 Thanks for the response. I'm also trying to find articles and videos on how to "unmask."

    • Del97

      230d

      Sounds like you just mask. I make eye contact sometimes too much even if it feels weird. But I’m always obsessing over if I’m doing it right and if they’re thinking it’s wrong. You can also be hyper empathetic and autistic. It’s a spectrum. I recommend looking into female autism too bc women weren’t studied for autism until very recently so most symptoms u hear ab are male autism

      • Skipeople

        230d

        @Del97 Yes, I do worry a lot too about how I come off when socializing. I'm afraid I'm making things awkward with my eye contact and half the time, I don't know what to do with my hands! I also worry about being annoying or intrusive when I talk to people sometimes; like they want me to go away bit then people say the opposite to me. I can't mind read, but I certainly try to!

    • Alyss

      231d

      So idk if you have ASD or not. But I will say that all of the reasons you said you aren't are things I experience and the acceptance of these problems could be attributed to afab children being more socialized in general than amab children. I, too, understood sarcasm growing up, until I was not immediately around it, and now it is challenging to me. That said, the rest I attribute in myself to being forced to mask. As soon as I stopped trying to mask (after my diagnosis at 31), it felt like I regressed socially but felt infinitely less anxious because I wasn't trying to fit some mold that I couldn't possibly fit. I would suggest you look into the autism community on reddit and YouTube and see what actual afab autism looks like and feels like to see if you find a place in the community. Even if you don't, you may find a few tips on helping with social anxiety, which many of us have. It's not necessary for you to get a formal diagnosis at this age, but having a community that makes you feel like you belong can be freeing. I've found many of my closest friends were undiagnosed but clearly on the spectrum, and I fit in easier with neurodivergent people than neurotypicals because it's like trying to constantly speak with fluent native speakers in a foreign language you have about 2 years schooling for. Even if you get what they're saying, it's draining and can take up more energy and thought process is necessary. If you do decide to get diagnosed, look for a specialist in adult and afab diagnoses because they typically present differently than white, amab children. Good luck!

      • Skipeople

        230d

        @Alyss Thank you for your reply. I will keep digging into how women tend to present and check out the Reddit community. Very helpful!

☝ This content is generated by our users and it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision

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Based on the replies, some people suggest taking online tests and doing research to see if your experiences match up with those of diagnosed autistic individuals. Others recommend talking to a psychiatrist or trusted family member or friend about any symptoms you've noticed. Some also mention that they didn't believe they were on the spectrum until they got a full evaluation explaining their symptoms. However, it's important to remember that every person is different and what applies to one may not apply to another.

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