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Neurodivergent? On the spectrum? IDK

HAL9001

New Member
Hi all,

This is going to be long, and probably all over the place, so sorry for that. This is basically going to be a journal of many of the neurodivergent tendencies I exhibit, and how they've affected my interactions in the real world. I'm new to this forum, and I'm honestly not sure where I lie in the neurodivergent world. My self analysis mainly started due to my glaring social issues in my current environment, being a college freshman living on campus and attempting to meet people and make relationships, but mostly failing.

I was evaluated for autism as a very young child, probably when I was about 2 years old (so in 2006), and apparently I was fine. I'll admit our scientific understanding and testing methods for autism has changed vastly since then, so who knows. On discussing the matter with my parents recently, they are very opposed to the idea that I could be on the spectrum, claiming I have "autistic tendencies, but don't have autism" (huh).

It was through self examination that I've realized I seem to have some glaring difficulties in social environments that I didn't really notice as directly due to generally being surrounded only by family and lifelong friends before college, which isn't the case anymore. In the end, the purpose of this post is to make sense of my situation, and help understand myself better. Kind of a journal of lots of my neurodivergent experiences in life, and to see if any people who possibly have had experiences like mine are out there.

From this point, I'll basically be explaining some stand out experiences, feelings, and behaviors I've noticed in myself throughout my life, starting from the beginning.

Ever since I can remember, I've been a huge stimmer. Whether it be playing with something in my hands, spinning in circles for ages, always sleeping with a blanket I rub in between my fingers until I fall asleep (for about 18 years now), tapping my foot all the time, etc Stimming has always given me such a calming, relaxing feeling, almost making me feel more in control with my surroundings in a way.

Along the lines of that, I also love repeating things over and over. This might be saying a word or phrase over and over again, or watching a very short clip over and over (5-20 times in a row).

Sensory wise, I am extremely hypersensitive to noise. I also very easily get overwhelmed in or near any kind of large group of people who are moving, talking, etc. I feel extremely uncomfortable and hazy in the head around large crowds, and I'm not really sure why.

When it comes to language processing, the only major issue I've had is self diagnosed APD, which was somewhat bad when I was younger but has gotten better.

Mental health wise, nothing major happened until I was 10 years old, and out of nowhere, something popped. I suddenly developed incredible severe anxiety and OCD, to the point where I was breaking down every day in tears over some obsessively weird and illogical fear that I knew was illogical, but couldn't help but be insanely freaked out and worried anyways. This cooled down over time, but since then, I've always had major bouts of anxiety that come and go, and there's always a constant level of anxiety I experience with most of what I do. I've been a hypochondriac since then as well, which would never fail to keep me up at night until I finally developed a way to get myself sleeping regardless a few years back. My severe OCD lasted about a year, during which I did things such as always turning a light on and off 3 times before turning it on or off, etc.

In terms of my thinking and interests, I've always been an extremely, overly logical person for as long as I can remember. Interest wise, for my entire life, I have had rotating obsessive interests. What I mean by that is I have multiple obsessive interests that I basically take turns obsessively focusing on, which then just change out, like the flip of a switch. In addition, I've always, in my opinion, lacked a lot of enthapy. Specifically, I have found it incredibly difficult to understand what it is like to be someone else- I've always naturally been extremely centered on my own conscious, and I just can't for the life of me put myself in someone else's shoes. I feel like I have a strong moral compass regardless, but this lack of empathy has always bothered me so much.

When it comes to social interaction, I've had many many issues and quirky experiences over the years. For many years as a child, I had lots of issues making eye contact with people I talked to- eventually, I got in the habit of doing so at my dad's direction when I was in middle school. But to this day, I am awkward with my eye contact, and find eye contact during conversations unnatural. Probably the worst social interactions I've had was as a young child, seemingly because I hadn't observed enough NT behavior to begin imitating it to fit in. Most of my memories of these actions were during playtime at preschool, where I was essentially a control freak over everyone else's actions- I wanted there to be a very specific way in which everyone played, because I liked order.

My entire life and to this day, probably my most glaring social issue is how I carry out and process conversations. I always have been and am very naturally one-sided in conversation, and I do not naturally converse at all like neurotypical people (I'll call neurotypical conversing 'NT conversations' for the purpose of this) . I love to information-dump and explain my wordy and elaborate thoughts and opinions forever and ever on my obsessive interests, and can go on for hours if you let me. I always interrupt people, which is a habit I've tried very hard to break, but it's insanely difficult. My thinking is so self-centric that when people say stuff, I automatically process it in terms of my interests and bring up new information and thoughts to talk about it myself. During this, I literally disconnect from my surroundings and into my head, and then when I return, my mouth is opening. I've gotten better very slowly over time at trying to have NT conversations, but it can be difficult. I cannot carry conversations, and if the conversation is with a new person and isn't on my list of obsessive topics (well, it's a big list at this point), I literally just cannot find words to say.

I've only known one person who converses like I did, my best friend from middle school. And he had autism. He would talk just like I would. That's why we were such good friends- we both conversed in the same way, naturally, just how two NT people would have NT conversations. We would take turns info and analysis-dumping on each other, and take in the info and analysis from the other person, thinking about it and making our own thoughts, feelings, and analysis about it, then dumping those. And there was only one topic we ever talked about, an obsessive topic we both shared.

With people I learn to know over a bit of time, I can carry out conversations here and there, but I can't go far with them. With people I've known for a while, given they have a lot to say, I can actually carry pretty well, because I know who they are, their interests, and the kind of conversations, statements, and questions that interest them. However, people I know intimately, my closest lifelong friends and family, I can perform nerotypical conversations with effortlessly. I always prefer and often partially revert to my conversation type. Generally, when I converse with close family, I converse in a mix of NT and "my type" of conversation. This usually, however, leads to my monopolization of the conversation, and my often interrupting of family members (a pet peeve of my sister). Over the years my "standard" conversation form with intimate family and close friends has shifted from being heavily leaning on my style of conversation to NT style, simply because I've gotten better at NT style, and my family members have often expressed annoyance at overuse of my style of conversaton. This shift mainly occured a few years back, when my constant use of my conversation style, and it's info-dump, wordy, and 1-sided nature began to get on my dad's nerves (understandably- he couldn't get a word in). He termed my conversation style 'Lecturing', which is essentially what it was. When I would go on in my natural conversing style for a couple minutes, he would remind me I was lecturing, at which point I would forcibly switch into an NT conversation.

I didn't really consciously realize that I was actually using two totally different conversation systems in my thoughts and speech until recently. This discovery was concurrent with my discovery that I tend to mirror people I know intimately all the time- copying their phrasing, personality, mannerisms, and interests subconsciously when holding a conversation with them. This made me realize I did not seem to have a natural way of expressing myself in "normal" conversation. I then realized I only acted my real self when conversing in the way I felt was normal, the way I was used to, my conversation style. This is when I realized the distinction between the two. My normal way of interacting with people, and the neurotypical way.

Because I have no natural sense of how to carry an NT conversation, I get my knowledge on how to carry them out from other people, thus why I subconsciously mirror people when I have NT conversations with them. This would also explain why I have immense trouble having NT conversations with people I don't know- NT conversations for me are a subconsciously learned set of behaviors, and each NT person converses in their own way such that I can't naturally carry a conversation with them until I learn that way. I have to learn people before I can carry out NT conversations with them. And I know from many experiences, when I try and have NT conversations with people I don't know, I'm a train wreck. I'm like a deer in the headlights. And anxiety makes this much worse.
 

kriss72

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Hi @HAL9001 , welcome here :) Reading your post, I was thinking that I wish I have had your insight about my self at your age. I can relate so much to many of the things you write.

If you were evaluated at age 2, I would think it might be worth to get a second evaluation (if you would like, if possible, etc).
 

Neri

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
It sounds very much like the kinds of experiences and difficulties that a lot of us here have been through and still go through. Welcome and I hope you find support and answers here. You may well have found some of your Neurodivergent tribe here.
 

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Welcome @HAL9001

To clarify, there are many types of so-called "neurodivergence", autism happens to be one of many. Autism may be an isolated condition, but can also occur with co-morbidities like attention deficits and compulsive behaviors. There are also different variants of autism.

My suggestion would be to write down all those behaviors, difficulties, and concerns you have, then seek out a professional who specializes in diagnosing adult autism.
 

MNAus

Well-Known Member
I'll be honest with you: it sounds like you need an impartial, professional opinion. IMO there's way too much stuff out there that encourage confirmation bias. The quizzes can read like horoscopes, and it's so easy to see yourself in all of the descriptions. I think there's a difference between casually taking an ASD quiz, and trying to put puzzle pieces of your life together into a form that gives you answers. That's not to say self-diagnosis is wrong, and clearly you're not feeling confident and living your best life. But it strikes me that this might be something where an outside view could help you make sense of things.
 

Nitro

Admin/Immoral Turpitude
Staff member
Admin
V.I.P Member
welcome_to_af.png
 

marc_101

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
@HAL9001 First, welcome. Second, if you can, get evaluated. Also, was it random that you got evaluated at 2? Why would you get evaluated at that age?

One problem with thinking, say, that you have autism but you don't is that you could miss an opportunity to get treatment for something else. So if possible, better to discuss it with a professional. Sometimes we think we understand ourselves, but there is the possibility that we could be wrong.
 

Levitator

Well-Known Member
Hi all,

This is going to be long, and probably all over the place, so sorry for that. This is basically going to be a journal of many of the neurodivergent tendencies I exhibit, and how they've affected my interactions in the real world. I'm new to this forum, and I'm honestly not sure where I lie in the neurodivergent world. My self analysis mainly started due to my glaring social issues in my current environment, being a college freshman living on campus and attempting to meet people and make relationships, but mostly failing.
...
I always fit the "nerd" stereotype and I assumed it was due to personal interests and social dynamics. I had no interest in identifying with a "condition" or alleged "disability" ever, because why? Later in life, I wound up without any relationships at all, and I found that I couldn't make any new ones, and that people would ditch me without explanation, or walk away from me while I was attempting to connect with them. So, at that point, it's clear that you have a tangible problem, and I sat down and took inventory of just how many traits I line up with, and it becomes obvious.

I also started looking at video of myself, which I was encouraged to do by a counselor since I was a kid, but I refused to because I'd been beaten down so much for my appearance already. Now, when I look; yep, I'm a deep-seated introvert, and my eyes are preoccupied with what is in my brain and not with expressivity because I expend more effort at it than others do. I always took it for granted, though, because that's my normal. They don't exert any effort at it, so their eyes are dedicated to participation in the dialogue. Who knows how many other subtle things are involved, but if your face and body don't move like they do, they don't see you. And if you are basically a disembodied voice, to them, then they get weirded out, they turn around, and they walk away. That's only slightly hyperbolic.

Oh, another two telltale things that swayed me right into the autism pool. I moved to a different country, and found that eliminates culture as a variable. I'm still the space alien there. I will speak to someone in Spanish right to their face, and they get confused and answer me in English, sometimes persistently, as I continue speaking to them in Spanish. They don't see that the lights are on, and it's because my automatic or intuitive expressions are absent or not the same. It's not my fault. That's just how I am.
 

HAL9001

New Member
I'll be honest with you: it sounds like you need an impartial, professional opinion. IMO there's way too much stuff out there that encourage confirmation bias. The quizzes can read like horoscopes, and it's so easy to see yourself in all of the descriptions. I think there's a difference between casually taking an ASD quiz, and trying to put puzzle pieces of your life together into a form that gives you answers. That's not to say self-diagnosis is wrong, and clearly you're not feeling confident and living your best life. But it strikes me that this might be something where an outside view could help you make sense of things.
Yeah, I've definitely thought about that a lot as well, especially considering my experience with conformation bias when it comes to "symptoms" I look up as a hypochondriac. I'm definitely prone to fitting myself into the definitions of conditions, which is why I've seriously considered talking to a professional sometime soon, because on a personal level, I really need to make sense of this all in a way where personal bias won't be getting in the way.
 

HAL9001

New Member
@HAL9001 First, welcome. Second, if you can, get evaluated. Also, was it random that you got evaluated at 2? Why would you get evaluated at that age?

One problem with thinking, say, that you have autism but you don't is that you could miss an opportunity to get treatment for something else. So if possible, better to discuss it with a professional. Sometimes we think we understand ourselves, but there is the possibility that we could be wrong.
I was evaluated because my parents noticed signs in my behavior that they thought could have been autism-related.
 

HAL9001

New Member
Welcome @HAL9001

To clarify, there are many types of so-called "neurodivergence", autism happens to be one of many. Autism may be an isolated condition, but can also occur with co-morbidities like attention deficits and compulsive behaviors. There are also different variants of autism.

My suggestion would be to write down all those behaviors, difficulties, and concerns you have, then seek out a professional who specializes in diagnosing adult autism.
Yeah, neurodivergence isn't specific to one condition, which is why I feel pretty certain I am neurodivergent, but not sure how. From my self analysis it seemed closest to high functioning autism, but then again, hypochondriac confirmation bias plays a huge role in that.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
Hi @HAL9001,

One way to understand yourself better in regard to autism is to read the threads of the forum. You can search for different topics from the top right corner or you can ask about different issues. This forum is a great resource to learn about the variety of autistic experiences there are and how we can address some of the collective challenges that arise.

If you are looking for more self discovery, start reading the threads and interacting with people here and see what resonates with you. As some others have suggested, talking about these things with a mental health professional could be a good idea, too.
 

marc_101

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I was evaluated because my parents noticed signs in my behavior that they thought could have been autism-related.
The scientific understanding of autism has changed a lot, so they could have missed you at 2. Follow all the suggestions here. The more you learn the better off you are.
 

Levitator

Well-Known Member
I would suggest that the emphasis on diagnosis may be excessive if what you care about is to relate to like people. If you can't tell yourselves apart from each other in terms of your experiences and challenges, then you're relating. I don't need some puffed up academic to interpret a diagnostic manual for me, and often those books are written with sociological goals and agendas in mind, so who cares?
 

Levitator

Well-Known Member
From there, I would point out that I have witnessed that the psych system in the US is mixed up. It's presented as if it's a medical science. It's neither scientific nor medical. Psychiatry anywhere is not a science, they're looking at superficial criteria and assuming that a condition they can't directly observe or measure is present, and that it bears similarities from person to person.

The really terrible thing is that psychiatry in the US is not medical. It's a farce. It's an adjunct or supplement to the incarceration system. It's essentially "oupatient" jail, or pharmacological house arrest, and then it's often extrajudicial, to top it off, without that benefit. The purpose of medicine is to serve the patient. The purpose of US psychiatry is to protect society from you.
 

Richelle-H

Autocosmic Reality Tester
V.I.P Member
I relate to much of what you wrote in your introduction. I did not know what High Functioning Autism was when I was in college. I was aware that I was different than everyone around me but paid it no mind. I developed interests that came and went. In college I developed a keen interest in Contract bridge as it provided some intellectual stimulation as well as a bit of social interaction where I could enjoy social interaction without stress and conflict. It wasn't until someone called out some of my quirkiness in my forties that I received a diagnosis (although it did not alter me in any significant way).

I can understand why your parents might deny that you are autistic due to some ill perceived notion that it is an affliction rather than merely perceiving things through a different lens. The thing is, for myself at least, it evolves over time and at the age of two might not have fully manifested.

In my case, it has caused some grief, misunderstandings, hostility, and some depression over the course of my life, but it never got in my way. I still have a habit of interrupting. My mind takes leaps that instigate a lot of that, and I must constantly be on guard to minimize it as much as possible, but it still happens even now, especially when the topic is related to something in which I have more than a passing interest.

I have had a good life because I just stopped conforming to other's perceptions. I think we all spend too much energy trying to fit into a different puzzle. I never had the need to be accepted. As you rightfully pointed out, we on the spectrum communicate with those in our group as easily as those who are not communicate with each other. The big leap is accepting that you are normal and not stressing about it. There is enough conflict in life without adding additional things to disrupt or add to that.

Anyway, welcome to the forums and I think you will find that whether or not you actually are on the spectrum, this place will welcome you with sympathy and understanding that the rest of the world would do well to emulate. A great deal of innovation and advancement of mankind came from our little corner of the universe.

Be happy in your diversity.
 

Levitator

Well-Known Member
I'm not even sure at this point whether parents should have their kids diagnosed. I wish someone had explained to me, in an environment outside of aggression or ridicule, that there's nothing wrong with me, but people see me differently, and it causes a lot of problems that aren't my fault. It would have bypassed a tremendous amount of confusion, frustration, and lamentation about unbelievably terrible luck that was never really random.

The obvious downside is that taking on a label invites society to discriminate against you in every possible way, and there are also predators in the world who will know which toolset to use to take advantage of you. That seems to happen, either way though. I lean in the direction of diagnosing for the benefit of the introspection, and knowing where to look to find accepting or like minds.
 

VictorR

Random Member
V.I.P Member
Hello and welcome.

College away from home can be a good opportunity to better understand oneself. While sometimes it can be difficult when one tries but has difficulty in forming connections, I hope you continue to try, and take the opportunity to explore things outside your comfort zone as well.
 

Harmonie

Member
I read through this. I socialize exactly like that! I sought out therapy to make myself more "sociable" but it is difficult to do. The way I communicate with others primarily is relating my own experiences. I don't mean to be so self-centered. I just straight-up don't know how to converse otherwise.

I also can talk someone's ears off with every small detail forever. I think this is why most people don't like talking to me. Again, I don't mean to be self-centered, I do it in an attempt to relate, but my mind is just in such a way where I want all details to be put out for others to fully understand my situation when conversing with them.

This all leads to me sadly thinking about myself too much when I talk with someone else.

So I totally understand in that regard! I haven't gone for testing for autism myself yet, but am confirmed to have ADHD. Interesting to hear that autistic people converse like this!

(you can even see that in this post about how I'm not conversing/helping you, just giving my own experiences. I'm so terrible. :sob: Sorry. lol)
 

kriss72

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I read through this. I socialize exactly like that! I sought out therapy to make myself more "sociable" but it is difficult to do. The way I communicate with others primarily is relating my own experiences. I don't mean to be so self-centered. I just straight-up don't know how to converse otherwise.

I also can talk someone's ears off with every small detail forever. I think this is why most people don't like talking to me. Again, I don't mean to be self-centered, I do it in an attempt to relate, but my mind is just in such a way where I want all details to be put out for others to fully understand my situation when conversing with them.

This all leads to me sadly thinking about myself too much when I talk with someone else.

So I totally understand in that regard! I haven't gone for testing for autism myself yet, but am confirmed to have ADHD. Interesting to hear that autistic people converse like this!

(you can even see that in this post about how I'm not conversing/helping you, just giving my own experiences. I'm so terrible. :sob: Sorry. lol)
This is relatable, somewhere in my diagnosis papers it says that I expect others to know what I'm thinking - do you think the reason we might over explain things is that we want to make sure we don't get misunderstood?

I think it is common that autistic people show that they understand what others experience by talking about our own related experiences - something that NT's might see as we want to turn the conversation towards our self, while what we really try to do is to express our understanding.
 

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