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Lack of bone and muscular development


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Hey all - I was diagnosed just this year in late middle age. I've dealt with the usual issues since; its been a mix of good and bad. My post here is about something I think is documented among autistics, but not that common. In the extensive research I've done, there isn't much on this.

My forearms are very thin and my wrists are about 1.5" inches across. They look the same today as when I was in the 3rd grade. I've done weight-lifting over many years and it works everywhere except from the elbows downward, where I still look like a baby.

At times I get the NT treatment of lack of eye contact, poor motor coordination etc that we all get, but they see those baby arms and don't bother even with life needs like plumbing, roofing, homeowner issues.

I finally tried to do the Primary Care Provider thing in 2022, but was giggled (yes by a physician) at saying, "How old are you really, 25? Maybe?" Reflecting, I should have walked out, but kept the peace and did not return. I debate whether I should have escalated this to management or even a malpractice attorney, or if screwed myself there, or if did the right thing in not resorting to "meltdown".

I'll be 50 years old next year, yet people enough to be my own child treat me like I need to help me with every little thing. Like every other autistic impossible situation, this has occurred thousands of times.

My clinician who diagnosed me, mentioned this while we were discussing "hyperflexibility"; that my arms situation isn't unique as an autistic. Indeed I do look at first glance, "young" based on my arms especially in warm weather with lighter clothing. The "Fountain of Youth" in appeareance would be great, but when you're treated like a child and can't even fulfill life needs, its not so fun.

Anyway, has anyone else had experience with this? Is there any deeper research into this? Of course, feedback from anyone of any age is welcome! Feels like an under-addressed topic.
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Hmm, interesting phenomenon. And annoying for you, to be infantilised unfairly. People can judge too quickly based on visual appearances.

Can't remember where I read or heard this, but iirc there's theories that autistic people tend to have lower muscle tone and less muscular development than NT normal. It's certainly true in my life, where I struggle to maintain or gain the same muscle as my similar-age sister. Perhaps it's different dependent on sex/gender, though, not sure how it or whether it works for males.
Seladon - grateful for your reply. "infantilised" - humbling but true.
For both of our sakes, if anyone has any JAMA or other experience, feedback is nice.
I don't understand JAMA, but I'm 75, 6' 1"' 170#' and my wrists are under 2" wide. It is hard to find work gloves that fit, and I've always had to modify my watch bands. However, J.E. Gordon points out that while large hands have advantages in some odd situations, such a gripping basketballs, overall, small hands are better. Ma Nature goes to a lot of trouble to operate them by tendons, with remote muscles to avoid their bulk in the hand itself. I can do a lot of repairs that are just impossible for others.
Are people really noticing your hands, or are you drawing attention to them? I worked in skilled labour with a guy for over a month without noticing that he couldn't straighten one elbow until he mentioned it.
I don't think it's related to autism. Maybe you just happen to have autism AND lack of bone and muscle development. Autism isn't like Downs syndrome, where there are several physical developmental conditions by nature of the condition.

I actually happen to be quite heavy-boned, like very well developed. I don't look heavy boned but I seem to be heavy boned. I was really thin and average height as a child but whenever my brother gave me piggyback rides he said I was heavier than other girls of the same height as me (ie, my sister, who was a year older than me). Also I've never broken any bones in my life, despite being a physically active child. Also I learnt to walk before I was a year old, so my muscles aren't underdeveloped either.

My autistic friend has quite a low bone density, her arms are very thin. But she doesn't eat a lot because she cares too much about her weight, so that might be why. Plus she was an alcoholic and drug-dependent when she was in her 20s, although she hasn't been for the last 20 years, I still think it slightly damaged her physically. But I don't know.
There are many different body types for males and females - endomorphs, ectomorphs, mesomorphs, hourglass, etc. My wrists are only about 2 inches wide, but I remember my mother's wrists were wider than mine. She had a different body type than I do. She was "stocky" with big bones, and I have a more delicate bone structure.

No one should make fun of or call attention to other people's body types.
I don't think it's ASD related. You mention the size of the wrists, but the size of the wrists is normally determined by the the bone structure. I imagine that you just happened to be small-boned, and the wrist is where you see it. There is a lot of variability in terms of human bodies, and most of it tends to fall into the "normal" variability.

The doctor was a jerk, but one reason most doctors won't care much is that small wrist is not a clinical problem and has no treatment. From their point of view, it's not a medical concern. It would be a concern if you have osteoporosis, you regularly break your wrists, and so on.

There is a connection between hypermobility and ASD, but not (that I know of) between hypermobility and wrist size.

Have you tried specific exercises to strengthen wrist/forearm muscles? Are your wrists in proportion to your body size?
Shevek - the hands are a bit smaller than normal but not that small. Its really from the elbow to the wrist. I don't draw attention to that but when wearing short-sleeves in warm weather, that's one of the first places someone sees, then draws their 2-minute NT conclusion on who you are.

Misty Avich - thank you for your reply. It sounds like this is not an issue for you, so take heart in that! My bone/muscle development is normal everywhere except for that elbow-wrist area. I run long-distance (ugh, Rain Man?) and have thunder-thighs, etc. Maybe I'm mentally compensating for the arms issue.

Mary Terry - wow, another 2" wide wrists member. Even say, during Covid where you like that? I gained weight then up to 220# or so then but my arms/wrists do not change regardless of weight. Somehow I don't feel that those body-type profiles explain this extreme especially in only one small area of the body.

I'm just curious as to if there is any connection or if it is unrelated. Seems like it must be since my clinician almost immediately mentioned it related to autism, and several of us have similar arms. I don't have strength issues or extending the arm or manipulating objects etc. I'm back to 6'2", 180#, ideal weight and can pec-deck, chest press, tricep pulldown, bicep curl - all that like my NT peers. Its *mostly* a visual thing.

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