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Could I be HFA?

90311208

New Member
I’ve been doing some light research lately and I’m wondering if it would be worthwhile to get an official diagnosis. I believe I have some characteristics of high-functioning autism (or at least something that affects my social skills). I am hopeful that some explanation can help me navigate my relationships.

Background information:
- 24yo female.
- High performer as a data scientist/software engineer.
- High performer academically.
- Musically and artistically talented.
- Interested in animals, genetics, and philosophy.

Characteristics that I match with:
- Inability to engage in small talk (I rely on a reserve of appropriate responses that I have built up over my life and it takes mental effort on my part to pick out the correct response).
- Difficulty maintaining friendships.
- Eye contact is very uncomfortable.
- Verbal communication is much more difficult than written communication (especially when there is tension).
- Often slow to respond verbally- I’m going through a lot of mental calculation here!
- Processing auditory information takes time, too.
- I often have trouble recognizing when I am being addressed (who, me?)
- I cannot be on the phone with someone without pacing violently. Also, I am never the one to hang up first.
- Inability to hear song lyrics (I can only hear music, not words- unless I focus really hard!).
- I zone out very easily when someone is talking and it’s not very interesting.
- I daydream a lot and become trapped in my own world.
- I am easily startled by loud noises (my coworkers unintentionally startle me all the time).
- Tendency to obsessively pick skin/nails/lint off of clothes.
- Tendency to walk on toes (especially if I’m not wearing shoes).
- I have some strange rituals for specific foods.
- My sense of humor is quirky and very few people understand it.
- I think I have synesthesia with numbers (each digit has a color and a personality).
- Tendency to hyperfixate on tasks (I often forget to eat/use the bathroom).
- Intense dislike of being interrupted when I am in the middle of a task (or even when I’m in the middle of a thought- which is very often).
- When I am alone, I will wring my arms like a wet dog (to relieve tension, I guess?)
- When I am in the elevator alone, I will pace in a circle until the door opens.
- I am absolutely terrible at directions and need to have my phone navigate me to anywhere that is not home or work.
- I am very sensitive to touch. I have to remove all tags from all clothes.
- There is another possible symptom I have but it is embarrassing so I will not share it since I think this list will suffice.


Reasons I might actually be “normal”:
- My husband thinks I am normal.
- I did not have speech delays as a child (although I had frequent tantrums where I lost the ability to verbalize).
- I am flexible with my schedule.
- I don’t really care about organization.
- I am able to empathize.
- I believe I have high emotional intelligence.
- I am not a black and white thinker, I am very much a gray thinker.
- I can usually pick up on sarcasm (sometimes I have to analyze it for a few seconds)
- I don’t have anxiety or depression.


I am curious what the people on this forum think. Do you think there is the possibility of HFA… or something else? Is it worth the time/effort/money to get a diagnosis, especially if it would not significantly affect my life?
 
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I’ve been doing some light research lately and I’m wondering if it would be worthwhile to get an official diagnosis. I believe I have some characteristics of high-functioning autism (or at least something that affects my social skills). I am hopeful that some explanation can help me navigate my relationships.

Background information:
- 24yo female.
- High performer as a data scientist/software engineer.
- High performer academically.
- Musically and artistically talented.
- Interested in animals, genetics, and philosophy.

Characteristics that I match with:
- Inability to engage in small talk (I rely on a reserve of appropriate responses that I have built up over my life and it takes mental effort on my part to pick out the correct response).
- Difficulty maintaining friendships.
- Eye contact is very uncomfortable.
- Verbal communication is much more difficult than written communication (especially when there is tension).
- Often slow to respond verbally- I’m going through a lot of mental calculation here!
- Processing auditory information takes time, too.
- I often have trouble recognizing when I am being addressed (who, me?)
- I cannot be on the phone with someone without pacing violently. Also, I am never the one to hang up first.
- Inability to hear song lyrics (I can only hear music, not words- unless I focus really hard!).
- I zone out very easily when someone is talking and it’s not very interesting.
- I daydream a lot and become trapped in my own world.
- I am easily startled by loud noises (my coworkers unintentionally startle me all the time).
- Tendency to obsessively pick skin/nails/lint off of clothes.
- Tendency to walk on toes (especially if I’m not wearing shoes).
- I have some strange rituals for specific foods.
- My sense of humor is quirky and very few people understand it.
- I think I have synesthesia with numbers (each digit has a color and a personality).
- Tendency to hyperfixate on tasks (I often forget to eat/use the bathroom).
- Intense dislike of being interrupted when I am in the middle of a task (or even when I’m in the middle of a thought- which is very often).
- When I am alone, I will wring my arms like a wet dog (to relieve tension, I guess?)
- When I am in the elevator alone, I will pace in a circle until the door opens.
- I am absolutely terrible at directions and need to have my phone navigate me to anywhere that is not home or work.
- I am very sensitive to touch. I have to remove all tags from all clothes.
- There is another possible symptom I have but it is embarrassing so I will not share it since I think this list will suffice.


Reasons I might actually be “normal”:
- My husband thinks I am normal.
- I did not have speech delays as a child (although I had frequent tantrums where I lost the ability to verbalize).
- I am flexible with my schedule.
- I don’t really care about organization.
- I am able to empathize.
- I believe I have high emotional intelligence.
- I am not a black and white thinker, I am very much a gray thinker.
- I can usually pick up on sarcasm (sometimes I have to analyze it for a few seconds)
- I don’t have anxiety or depression.


I am curious what the people on this forum think. Do you think there is the possibility of HFA… or something else? Is it worth the time/effort/money to get a diagnosis, especially if it would not significantly affect my life?
Given all that, I think a definite maybe is in order. If you just want to know for yourself, you can research deeper (you said light research) and take some of the common tests. An actual diagnosis would be helpful to get you assistance, but you seem to be doing well, and a diagnosis could be a two edged sword.

I am curious, and honestly not trying to be funny or facetious, how does a wet dog wring its arms?
 
Welcome. I also want to know how a wet dog wring its arms. So does my dog sitting next to me. She looks confused. :)

It's hard to tell from the list of traits you mentioned. Some fit ADHD inattentive type, too. HFA is not a diagnosis. The diagnosis is autism with different levels of support needed (1,2,3). It's a very broad diagnosis. If you read the posts here, everybody is different but share some characteristics that can also be expressed differently.

One suggestion is you take some of the screening quizzes online. They are just screening tests, but provide useful information. If possible, getting an assessment is always useful. Learning more about you can help.

One important consideration is whether any of the traits you mentioned bother you. Do you feel that you can't connect with people or people don't want to connect with you?

Also, some of the traits in your "normal" list do not rule out autism. My pet peeve is empathy. A lot of autistics feel and/or understand other people's feelings. They may not show it, but that's a different issue. And not all care about organization or black and white thinking in all circumstances.
 
I was thinking, yes, yes, yes going down the list* but was surprised at no anxiety or depresiion. Not that it doesn't happen with autism. Exceptions to everything are found. Things like extroverted aspies, athletic ones, aspies that dislike math, etc.

* I am not a mental health professional. I just compare it to my accrued body of observation and the things other autists shared on autisic forums for the last dozen years or so.
 
Welcome.

Usually the main reason for getting a diagnosis would be if one may benefit from supports at work, but it can also be helpful in confirming, or in identifying if it may be something else, or a combination of things (ASD and ADHD, for example, commonly occur together, sometimes referred to as AuDHD).

Perhaps you may wish to dig deeper with your research, perhaps look at some resources and stories and decide how/where to proceed.
 
Hello & welcome @90311208.

If we knew which country you are in, we could possibly make more specific recommendations.

Also, I am curious about the rationale behind your login name/number...
full


If American, I have ruled out it being a
  • birthdate,
  • phone number,
  • Social Security number or
  • ZIP code...
 
Hi @90311208 , welcome - nice to meet you, there is nothing in what you write that says that you can't be autistic, there are many of the things you write about I can recognize I my self thou - I'm diagnosed AuDHD (autism + adhd) and been doing software development for a living for 20+ years, you choosed a good career :)

Good luck on your journey, I went for an official diagnosis, not because I thought I needed it, but because my daughter initially pushed me into it, the rest is history :)
 
Hello and welcome @90311208.

It sounds like you could benefit from sticking around here for awhile and reading the threads of the forum. You can read about the lived experiences of people with autism and see where you can related to the different challenges and successes that are shared here.

There is much to learn about autism from autistic people. For example, the lack of empathy among autistic people is a myth. Here you can learn the various ways that autistic people experience empathy.
 
I’ve been doing some light research lately and I’m wondering if it would be worthwhile to get an official diagnosis. I believe I have some characteristics of high-functioning autism (or at least something that affects my social skills). I am hopeful that some explanation can help me navigate my relationships.

Background information:
- 24yo female.
- High performer as a data scientist/software engineer.
- High performer academically.
- Musically and artistically talented.
- Interested in animals, genetics, and philosophy.

Characteristics that I match with:
- Inability to engage in small talk (I rely on a reserve of appropriate responses that I have built up over my life and it takes mental effort on my part to pick out the correct response).
- Difficulty maintaining friendships.
- Eye contact is very uncomfortable.
- Verbal communication is much more difficult than written communication (especially when there is tension).
- Often slow to respond verbally- I’m going through a lot of mental calculation here!
- Processing auditory information takes time, too.
- I often have trouble recognizing when I am being addressed (who, me?)
- I cannot be on the phone with someone without pacing violently. Also, I am never the one to hang up first.
- Inability to hear song lyrics (I can only hear music, not words- unless I focus really hard!).
- I zone out very easily when someone is talking and it’s not very interesting.
- I daydream a lot and become trapped in my own world.
- I am easily startled by loud noises (my coworkers unintentionally startle me all the time).
- Tendency to obsessively pick skin/nails/lint off of clothes.
- Tendency to walk on toes (especially if I’m not wearing shoes).
- I have some strange rituals for specific foods.
- My sense of humor is quirky and very few people understand it.
- I think I have synesthesia with numbers (each digit has a color and a personality).
- Tendency to hyperfixate on tasks (I often forget to eat/use the bathroom).
- Intense dislike of being interrupted when I am in the middle of a task (or even when I’m in the middle of a thought- which is very often).
- When I am alone, I will wring my arms like a wet dog (to relieve tension, I guess?)
- When I am in the elevator alone, I will pace in a circle until the door opens.
- I am absolutely terrible at directions and need to have my phone navigate me to anywhere that is not home or work.
- I am very sensitive to touch. I have to remove all tags from all clothes.
- There is another possible symptom I have but it is embarrassing so I will not share it since I think this list will suffice.


Reasons I might actually be “normal”:
- My husband thinks I am normal.
- I did not have speech delays as a child (although I had frequent tantrums where I lost the ability to verbalize).
- I am flexible with my schedule.
- I don’t really care about organization.
- I am able to empathize.
- I believe I have high emotional intelligence.
- I am not a black and white thinker, I am very much a gray thinker.
- I can usually pick up on sarcasm (sometimes I have to analyze it for a few seconds)
- I don’t have anxiety or depression.


I am curious what the people on this forum think. Do you think there is the possibility of HFA… or something else? Is it worth the time/effort/money to get a diagnosis, especially if it would not significantly affect my life?
Hi, you seem like a very interesting person I would very much like to get to know :)

Apart from that: The others already said most of it. Your list of "pro" things sounds like autism could very much be a possibility for you, and none of the "contra" things rule it out.
I am also curious if any of those things actually bother you, or if it's "just" genuine interest that made you explore this thought. You said that you hope for help in navigating your relationships. Sticking around here might provide some help. You could pursue a diagnosis, and if you meet a professional who's not old-fashioned in their views (= autism is only for boys, you're a grown woman who has a job and can carry a conversation so you can't be autistic, etc. etc.) I think the probability of them confirming your suspicions is quite high. So you might want to consider what benefits and what disadvantages you, yourself, might get from pursuing a formal diagnosis. Being our age and considering your/our lifestyle, we're too old for any lower-threshold supports, and too high-functional for any adult-supports. So getting a diagnosis would be only for yourself.
E.g. both my partner and I are sure of being autistic. I decided to get this confirmed by a professional, he didn't (and probably won't in the future), since we have different approaches. I feel like I benefit from intense introspection and from certain labels for myself. He doesn't believe in labels.

Also adressing the point that "your husband thinks you're normal": I don't want to in any way insinuate anything. But in my experience, many neurodiverse people (I know) tend to really connect better with other neurodiverse people. Especially when it comes to such close relationships like a romantic relationship or very close friendships. There might be the possibility of your husband thinking you're "normal" because he experiences some of these things, too. As I said, I want to in no way insinuate anything. But I have heard this "but you seem completely normal to me" from a few close friends who I secretly suspect to be at least a bit neurodiverse, too.
 
Also adressing the point that "your husband thinks you're normal": I don't want to in any way insinuate anything. But in my experience, many neurodiverse people (I know) tend to really connect better with other neurodiverse people. Especially when it comes to such close relationships like a romantic relationship or very close friendships. There might be the possibility of your husband thinking you're "normal" because he experiences some of these things, too. As I said, I want to in no way insinuate anything. But I have heard this "but you seem completely normal to me" from a few close friends who I secretly suspect to be at least a bit neurodiverse, too.
To add to that, the other possibility is that it's very possible as an autistic to connect with people. So you have a good relationship with your husband and he sees nothing clinically unusual with you. The issues may appear when you add more people to the mix or in other circumstances.

@Tom has a very good point. It's what I was trying to get at with the question of what traits bother you. Negative feelings or other possible diagnosis like ADHD, anxiety, depression, are more the norm that the exception. Some clinicians opt to not attach more labels, so they pick the one that seems to be the main cause -- say, autism. I think the accepted stats is that, for example, 70% also fit an ADHD diagnosis. A lot of people here got a collection of diagnoses before somebody realized it was autism. I personally have a vast collection. :)
 
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