27 August 2014: My ASD

ASD Notes & Analysis

I) Social Communication:

People with autism sometimes find it difficult to express themselves emotionally and socially. To give some examples, you may:

have difficulty understanding other people’s gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice

be unsure about when to start or end a conversation, or how to choose topics to talk about

talk or read very fluently but not fully understand the meaning of some of the more complex words and phrases you use

be very literal and sometimes struggle with jokes, metaphors, sarcasm or common turns of phrase, such as ‘She nearly bit my head off’.

 

Ineffective communication has so far has apparently ensured that I cannot effectively communicate how I feel or what I want or need in terms of my ‘mental health’. In essence, my condition has effectively prevented me from getting the help I actually need to help me live some kind of existence that isn’t surrounded by confusion and anxiety I feel because of having to interact with a world I just do not understand. 

  • The only form of communication I am good at is writing… Any other form I’m useless at as it generally involves personal interaction. Which I am very useless at.
  • I certainly cannot verbalise how I feel very well, and often end up scared of talking to the people I’m supposed to talk to, especially professionals. I try going over things – conversations – in my head to try and practice, but it never comes out right, and people clearly don’t understand what I think I’m trying to say. What I want to say.
  • When I try to talk, I end up talking too much, not saying what I really mean (apparently, from the responses I get), repeating myself, and getting myself both in a idle and in a panic. Unable to concentrate or think when talking, I feel overwhelmed, then panicky, then I can’t think even less and end up panicking more till I usually shut down. I then panic more, often obsessing about the things I must have said wrong without much of a clue as to whether it was wrong or not.
  • I am unable to understand facial expressions or tone of voice – I have no idea of people mean what they say, are genuine, or if they’re angry/sad/upset/tired/happy etc. It all tends to look the same to me… This leaves me quite confused when they show these emotions, and end up finding conversations and interactions incredibly difficult.
  • Have no idea how to speak with people, and will avoid or refuse to do so if possible.
  • I do not understand feelings and emotions particularly well; I don’t especially have them, or like them, and I find them strange. I certainly don’t understand them, and find myself highly sensitive to other people’s emotions, even though I don’t understand them, though, and I often find that I mirrored them.
  • Will not start a conversation, and have no idea how to even do so.
  • I’m not just ‘socially awkward’… I find it anxiety- and panic-inducing. I hate any kind of social interaction. It’s frightening.
  • Engaging with people is exhausting, difficult and often confusing or anxiety-inducing. I certainly feel frightened most of the time by it. Or even the thought of it.
  • I generally find people confusing, frustrating, annoying and irritating, particularly because of all the stupid games and rules that goes into this interaction between them… I feel like I’m being forced into playing a game that nobody told me the rules for, and threw me into the keep end on Insanity level and expected me to manage winning it all by myself. Then they show their disdain, anger, frustration, upset, because I can’t even play let alone win.
  • Have constant difficulty in restraining frustration towards others when they don’t easily grasp what I find obvious. I’ve been told I end up coming across as rude or brisk or nasty when this happens. I usually don’t talk to people when I feel like this because I’ve been told that.
  • I generally have no idea what appropriate behaviour is, and generally take guesses based on information gathered, hoarded, analysed, observed on what should be done. I often get it wrong.
  • I apparently don’t talk very nicely to people a lot of times without realising it.
  • I get overwhelmed when people or a person overloads me with constant communications, whether texts, phone calls, emails, etc. I usually shut down and ignore them for a long time.
  • Unable to properly grasp jokes, or teasing and always take things literally. This usually leads to a lot of bad problems, arguments and meltdowns.
  • Unable to understand a figure of speech, and don’t really understand sarcasm, but often incorrectly assume people are actually being sarcastic when they’re not. I get upset because I think people mean what they say when they’re being sarcastic or teasing. This has lead to a lot of trouble.
  • Easily confused in conversations, and I prefer not to engage. I find it anxiety-inducing and exhausting, trying to decode what they’re saying and trying hard to talk back appropriately. It’s a lot of trouble I prefer to avoid.
  • Can only communicate effectively in writing – after spending a lot of time crafting what I’m writing. I will prefer to use email or text. I’m scared of the phone and do not like speaking to people, with less than a handful of people who I’m comfortable speaking to.
  • My memory is also terrible and this does not help in trying to follow conversations, when that’s hard enough to do already.
  • I can’t engage in “imagine” talk – daydreams of “what if” – I can only take them literally and get freaked out because I think people are being serious. i.e. my friend was speaking about going away on holiday and driving around France, and I had no idea she was just daydreaming, making it up,thinking it would be nice and just playing “imagine if” or make-believe in her head. I got upset because I thought she was being serious. I’ve done this every time someone has done this, for decades, and it always frightens me because I think they’re talking about something that’s actually going to happen, and probably very soon. 
  • As a young child, from about 2yo (approx), my mother has memories of me banging my head against the wall because I did not want her/like her using the washing machine, refusing to go out into the garden and play alone (without her), and screaming constantly for hours on the top of the stairs. I have no memory of this personally, I was too young, but my mother (obviously) recalls them vividly.
  • Without the “code” in my head that construct to deal with situations, I am completely lost. I’ve spent a long time trying to construct them, and they’re exhausting to use and maintain. They require a high level of processing power which drains me and is difficult to maintain! particularly without energy. To manage this I drink a lot of coffee to power it.
  • Right now it feels like the pain I endure has taken up most of the CPU, like a virus, and there is little or no processing power left for anything else, for my “code” to be run.
  • Without them I feel lost, in a world, a life, I cannot understand and one I do not like. Without the code, I’m scared and nothing makes much sense. Particularly when I am exhausted/drowsy from medication/disorientated/disengaged from surroundings, like I’m in a dream or in a VR world.

 

 

II) Social Interaction:

Plenty of people with autism want to be sociable and make friends, but often say they’re unsure how to go about this. Socialising can be difficult and may cause considerable anxiety. To give some examples, you may:

find it hard to make and maintain friendships

find other people unpredictable or confusing

not always understand the unwritten ‘social rules’ that other people just seem to know. How close do you stand to another person? How do you know what’s an appropriate topic of conversation?

be unsure how to behave in different social situations, and worry about getting things wrong.

  • I cannot make friends – all friends I have chose to engage with me first, and invested their time and effort into making and keeping friends with me.
  • I find it extremely difficult to keep friends – I find it too exhausting to continue to maintain friendships as so much effort is generally required to engage with people on the right way. I prefer not to put too much effort into trying to maintain friendships, instead focusing my energy on only a few.
  • I cannot socialise. I also don’t know how, and I find it too overwhelming and difficult/impossible. I don’t like it and I prefer not to do it. I will attempt to avoid it almost at any cost.
  • I cannot cope with more than 2 other people around me, and even that is extremely difficult to manage. 1 is better.
  • There are too many social rules to get my head around, and despite studying behaviour, body language and all to get some idea about it, learning to mirror people to be appropriate, I find it all confusing and difficult and exhausting. It’s better to be alone, or at least with no more than 1 other person, max.
  • I don’t like people, I don’t understand them and prefer not to be around them. If forced into a gathering, I will remain somewhere safe and not venture out into the crowd.
  • I have a set of people who are ‘safe’ and I feel ok with them. Otherwise I prefer not to interact with people a lot.
  • I cannot look at people. Not face to face or with eye contact. I don’t like it, it’s … discomforting? Scary? Disconcerting? Intimidating?…I’m not sure what’s wrong with it, but I know I don’t like it…
  • When it has come to having to engage with people, I spend all my time running through things in my mind, with it chugging away like a computer, extensively analysing and attempting to adjust to each topic, scenario, and each element of behaviour. I analyse everything from facial expressions to body language, tone of voice, topic of conversation, in an attempt to pull relevant  data from my mind to attempt to manage the conversation/interaction. Its exhausting and confusing. And I usually get it wrong anyway.
  • I spent years trying to learn how people interact, behave, speak. I have read books, magazines, and mirrored behaviours… Stowed it all away as data for my brain to sift through it all and try to work out from all this information what the best thing to do in every and any situation. I have spent my life exhausted because I’ve been doing this. Unfortunately, my brain has now broken from too much pain, and is too exhausted to manage this anymore. Without this data I am frankly left utterly confused and scared about it all. Again. Like when I was a child.
  • I do not have anything pre-programmed in me to manage such things.
  • I have about 3, maybe 4, pretty close friends, and one very best friend whom I am extremely close with, like a sister – or even better than a sister. This is the only relationship I make a big effort to maintain, and she also lives with me and helps look after me.
  • As a baby I refused to interact with anyone – would cry when given to anyone other than very close immediate family (even with other members of my family). I was apparently only happy around my parents, particularly my father, and always refused to sleep in the crib in my own room/nursery, screaming each time I was lowered into it, regardless of whether awake or asleep.
  • As a child I refused to play, and if I did, I didn’t play well. Most other children were (as I saw, anyway) horrible to me. I was teased, bullied, had things taken from me and/or broken. I had no concept of harmless teasing (and I’m still not sure whether they were being genuinely mean or just good-naturedly teasing). I didn’t want friends, but the ones I had were ones who (for some reason) just hung around me until I got used to them, a practice I reluctantly accepted (mainly because I couldn’t tell them not to) – but once I was used to them, I accepted them as a friend and tried to treat them as such (as far as my understanding went, which was garnered from books, or shows like She-Ra, mainly, where I copied what the characters would do).
  • Most of my ability to interact has mainly involved mimicking characters, or certain traits in a mix of characters, to manage through certain situations as I’ve grown up, and especially as a young adult (18+). I can’t do it on my own, “as me”, and have used my training in the performing arts to get better at this “acting”. It is exhausting and I’ve spent most of my life exhausted from trying to do with, with my brain running (essentially) data queries through my “database” of understanding on interactions and how to deal with them and “who” (as in which character’s traits) would be best dealing with them at any time (and this changes, depending on interaction, and who with). Then people wonder why it is I live on a vast amount of coffee…

 

 

III) Social Imagination:

People with autism have difficulty with social imagination. To give some examples, you may:

find it hard to understand or interpret other people’s thoughts, feelings or actions – and therefore to understand their intentions or to predict what they’re going to do next

not always be comfortable with the idea of change, and prefer to stick to a routine

enjoy carrying out particular activities, or learning about certain topics, which as well as being enjoyable you may find really beneficial. Perhaps they help you to relax, or to deal with anxiety.

 

Many people with autism are imaginative (for example, they are accomplished writers, artists and musicians). If you’re quite creative, this shouldn’t automatically be taken as a sign that you do not have autism.

I have spent my life in utter anxiety, panic and general meltdowns because of confusion with this. I’ve had arguments, panic attacks, extreme upsets, screaming matches and violent meltdowns, at home and in public, because I never properly understood what people were saying or implying with me. I never got subtext, or teasing, or figures of speech, and often became extremely upset and hurt because I never understood what was really going on. These generally turn to panic, and panic turns to meltdowns. Now I’m learning to ask what people really mean and some things are starting to settle down and make sense… I’m trying to “re-code” the data in my brain to make better sense, cognitively, about what is what, instead of using guesses and character-mimicking to manage and muddle through.

  • I have no idea how to interpret others’ feelings. They confuse me, and this then frightens me into panic fairly often.
  • Feelings, facial expressions, certain behaviours etc., confuse me a lot… I don’t really understand feelings, because they’re difficult to analyse and cognitively understand and file away into something that makes sense to me. Although I’ve tried to work hard on empathy and sympathy to give it to others – however, I clearly can’t really do it very well.
  • I cannot understand facial expressions and therefore find it extremely difficult to manage to work out peoples’ feelings – I usually get it wrong and this often gets me into trouble, or at least leads me into utter confusion. Which then causes panic, which in turn creates arguments and meltdowns.
  • I find myself emulating emotions, easily guided and made uneasy by being mirroring and emulating these emotions I don’t really understand.
  • I have no idea why people get angry/upset/annoyed (with me or anything else) and it frightens me when they do so. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do in this situation. Usually I panic.
  • I also get perturbed by people being very happy or excited. I don’t really know what to do then, either.
  • I don’t really understand emotions, full-stop. I find them… Odd? I can deal with them when explained to me, and what has caused it, so I can cognitively understand it. Otherwise I shut down or panic. Sometimes it feels they’re a foreign language to me.
  • I absolutely cannot tolerate any change. I will notice something amiss easily and will get extremely upset about it (I can’t help it, it’s just horrible, and I hate it). This usually leads to extreme meltdowns.
  • Most things that have to be done, must be done in a certain way, or at a certain time, or when I feel in a certain way. For instance, I must get dressed and undressed in a certain order, I must eat food a certain way, things must be cooked in a certain order if I’m cooking, and I cannot cope if something goes wrong with it.
  • If something is slightly off and not “perfect” (as I expect it to be, not necessarily what others might think is perfect) then I get very upset because it’s just wrong and therefore it’s not ok and not safe anymore.
  • I’m scared of food so I require certain things to be done or fulfilled to manage it (depending on level of anxiety, if I’m cooking, what is being made, how much pain I am in, etc… There are a lot of variables). The most important thing is to have a “safe” TV show on to eat it.
  • I have a “list”of safe TV shows I can watch (in my head, and it changes with time). These will be TV dramas/comedies that I like and I’ve become obsessed with and researched to death, and are therefore safe. There will also be a few others that I really enjoy watching and are classed as safe.
  • I must have routines, or set practices in some form.
  • i.e. I coped with work by going there in the same way, doing the same things, eating the same thing/from the same place, and returning in the same way. I also listened to the same things whilst doing it (on mp3). I would get extremely upset if any part of my routing went wrong, especially the transport side, and would have to be talked out of a meltdown over the phone. 
  • I enjoyed the repetitive work of running databases or data analysis, and loved my job as an IT consultant in data analysis. It made working fun for once, and I could cope with it once I figured out my routine for each job.
  • When I realised I could no longer work (due to extensive chronic pain) and this had changed, I had a full breakdown and couldn’t cope for weeks. During this period I had a lot of extreme, even violent, meltdowns. 
  • I am meticulous to the point of obsession – which is why I was good at my job as an analyst… But not very good at much else.
  • If there’s no general routine I get extremely anxious. Usually I now request a “briefing” beforehand to get my head around doing something different, and sometimes a “debrief” if something has been particularly stressful.
  • I absolutely cannot deal with impetuousness or impulsive behaviour, and I cannot cope with anything impulsive. I literally cannot even go to the bathroom without analysing it, contemplating it, and preparing for it (genuinely, and I often have… accidents because of it now).
  • I absolutely cannot deal with people in my house, apart from those who live there. I can deal with 1 of my parents at a time, and my sister and her partners or a short time, and my friend’s sister, but I require ongoing support to manage this and the visits. I don’t feel safe otherwise (there is no other word that explains how I feel).
  • Each visit to the house requires forward planning and plenty of notice.
  • If my friend (who lives with me) wishes to go out/visit family etc, it must be ore-planned or I cannot cope.
  • Dealing with anything spontaneous makes me panic a lot. 
  • I have a few things to cope with life and anxiety: Games (Fable/Mass Effect/Dragon Age on Xbox 360 and Wii U), using my iPad, certain music (depending in where I am, what I’m doing and what type of anxiety I hate), writing, watching certain TV shows (each one I like has its own place depending on what type of anxiety I have). Also especially important, I have to do the same type of things at certain times, or during certain periods, or in certain places, etc. Like I manage an if/then code I have little control over.
  • I am utterly drawn to and obsessed with games (particularly Mass Effect [trilogy] and Dragon Age 2). When I can’t cope I play these games to feel better and I can play from for hours every day.
  • For each thing I am drawn to get obsessed over, I research it to deal and learn everything there is to know about it. Throughout my life there have been various things I have become utterly obsessive and expert in – music/TV shows/films/games I play over and over again. These are my safe place and keeps me ‘happy’ and… OK. Calm. Peaceful. No noises in my head. When I’ve utterly exhausted each one (after a few years) I then subconsciously keep a mind out for the next one.

 

 

Related Characteristics:

As well as the three main areas of difficulty, you may find you have some of the following characteristics or conditions, which are quite common in people with autism. You should tell your GP about these, too.

i) Sensory Difficulties:

Sensory difficulties can affect all seven senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance (‘vestibular’) and body awareness (‘proprioception’).

You might find that you are either over-sensitive or under-sensitive to different stimuli. For example, you might be averse to bright lights, loud noises, some smells, particular food textures or the feeling of certain materials. Any of these could cause anxiety, possibly even pain.

You may also find it harder to use your balance and body awareness systems, which let us know how we’re moving and where our bodies are in space. So you might find it harder to navigate rooms avoiding obstructions, or go up and down stairs. You might also find that repetitive activities such as rocking, hand-flapping and spinning (which many people with autism do) help your balance and posture.

The sensory difficulties I have exasperate the chaos in my head: it’s difficult to explain it, how it feels… It’s like a thousand lightning storms that hit the side of my brain with each fork – thousands of them – all hitting me over and over again, with a hurricane blowing through and causing rampage and ruin, whilst the lightening bolts thunder through my skull. Then there’s the… Noise. Screaming? White noise – static? Screaming and howling winds? I don’t know how to explain. There really no words I know of. As well as this is the pressure building up inside my head, feeling like it’s filled with pressure and my head is about to explode, at the same time feeling like someone is sitting on my head that weighs a tonne. It hurts a lot.

Other people have called it chaos… It’s a pretty good word for it. Sensory overload, panic from confusion, uncertainty and anxiety all cause this to escalate. It fills my head, it fills my ears, it causes so much pain and noise I cannot think or feel anything other than overwhelming panic.

When the cacophony of madness and chaos gets to it’s peak I melt down. I can’t take it anymore. Something in my brain breaks. It fragments and I lose all awareness to the massive panic attack that has been induced. Since I’ve become more aware, though, the meltdowns have become less… Less violent, sometimes less intense, and slightly less frequent. The traumatic ones still happen, but not as much. The coping strategies are working somewhat. The chaos is always there, and it’s easy for it to escalate. But now I’m aware of it (instead of ignoring it, like I used to), I do make a big effort to prevent it escalating now. I prefer everything to be quiet, then I can feel safe and calm, and then content… Or my version of ‘happy’. 

  • Cannot tolerate bright light at all, especially daylight – extremely oversensitive to it and also suffer migraines from it. It hurts my eyes and brain incredibly, feels like a thousand daggers is shooting through my eyes and into my brain, and can cause meltdowns as the pain makes me panic from the chaos in my head that’s due to the pain.
  • Unable to tolerate loud sounds or sudden sounds, like emergency vehicle sirens, banging doors, dropping something hard on the floor, children screeching and screaming about, dishes/cutlery  being banged during washing up or putting them away. Sudden loud noises frighten me terribly. It hurts my head, starts the chaos inside (that’s what other people call it… It’s like white noise, screaming, feels like
  • Extremely sensitive to sounds in general, even the smallest sounds can sound like they’re loud and almost echoing… Dripping taps, fingers tapping tables, clicking fingernails, swallowing loudly, sniffing, talking in my ear, talking loud when my brain’s upset, or in the mornings… Anything. It hurts my head and makes me upset.
  • Extremely oversensitive to tastes; prefer bland food, and can’t tolerate spices & ‘hot’ food, or anything that’s very sweet. I also don’t like colourful food or a colourful range of food on my plate. I also hate to look at, or touch,(let alone actually eat) any food that looks wrong.
  • I hate touching anything that has a texture that is wrong: if they’re squishy, runny, sticky, or icky  – from clay and play dough, to fruit (the textures are not nice), to eating certain food that’s gooey or covered in sauces (or like when fillings start falling out of sandwiches and you have to pick them up when covered in Mayo etc, or anything that requires you eat it with your hands), to certain fabrics such as velvet. I also hate towels that are too soft or too rough.
  • Very fussy with food – needs to be cooked in a certain way, only certain foods go with other foods, textures have to be right, and I don’t like a lot of foods for various reasons. Do not like trying new things, new foods.
  • I hate water. The feel on it on me is horrible, I don’t like it on my hands and I don’t particularly like drinking it. I’m also very scared of it.
  • Oversensitive to cacophony of smells – food, perfumes, lotions, etc. It hurts my brain and makes me nauseous.
  • I deal with the anxiety of situations by rocking or wringing/rubbing my hands. When in distress I rub my arms or legs, but when in extreme distress or panic I scratch myself, and quite badly too – to the point where I now always keep my fingernails short.
    • If I suffer from sensory overload or panic I often prefer to hide under a blanket, or put in-ear headphones on and play certain music to quiet the noise/chaos in my head. Previous to working this out as an option, I would have massive, violent meltdowns because I didn’t understand what was going on with the chaos in my head or what to do with it, and I was frightened by it.  
  • I am fairly clumsy, and have particular difficulty with fine motor skills in my hands, especially the right one. But I have always assumed it was due to some kind of nerve damage, though.

 

ii) Love of Routines:

In an effort to make the world less confusing, you may have rules and rituals (ways of doing things) that you insist upon. You might also have a strong preference for routine, and find it difficult to cope with change if you haven’t been able to prepare for it in advance. For example, an unexpected delay to your journey to or from work might make you feel anxious or upset.

  • I absolutely cannot tolerate any change. I will notice something amiss immediately and will get extremely upset about it (I can’t help it, it’s just horrible and I hate it when it happens so much). This usually leads to extreme meltdowns.
  • Dealing with anything spontaneous makes me panic a lot.
  • I am probably the most inflexible person I know, or anyone I know knows…
  • I’m obsessed with details, down to the smallest thing and prefer being excessively-organised., imagine all the possible scenarios and outcomes and prepare for all of them. The last time I managed to go on holiday I had several spreadsheets covering every detail to run through and monitored them and updated and ran them with precision. It was the only way I could cope with going away, which was breaking my routine. But when I was there I established a new one to cope, though.
  • I feel as if I must try and be in control… Even though this generally makes me panic more. What I need is for people to try and let me have my ‘idiosyncrasies’, but it ends up coming off as being looking like I’m a control freak.
  • Most things that have to be done, must be done in a certain way, or at a certain time, or when I feel in a certain way. For instance, I must get dressed and undressed in a certain order, I must eat food a certain way, things must be cooked in a certain order if I’m cooking, and I cannot cope if something goes wrong with it. It all must be perfect – my kind of perfect. I’ve found others don’t share the same ideals and don’t understand this.
  • If something is slightly off and not “perfect” (as I expect it to be, not necessarily what others might think is perfect) then I get very upset because it’s just wrong and therefore it’s not ok and not safe or OK anymore.
  • I’m scared of food so I require certain things to be done or fulfilled to manage it (depending on level of anxiety, if I’m cooking, what is being made, how much pain I am in, etc… There are a lot of variables). The most important thing is to have a “safe” TV show on to eat it. Every time I eat, a particular show must be on so I can eat it. (The show itself depends on which one I’m obsessed with at the time, or which is “safe”).
  • I have a “list”of safe TV shows I can watch (in my head, and it changes with time). These will be TV dramas/comedies that I like and I’ve become obsessed with and researched to death, and are therefore safe. There will also be a few others that I really enjoy watching and are classed as safe.
  • I must have routines, or set practices in some form. This includes how I wake up, get up, get dressed, go out, what’s in my bag and how and where it goes in my bag… Of any of it is wrong then I end up extremely upset, may possibly melt down, but my day will assuredly be ruined and wrong from then on and not OK afterwards. These routines also made very scary things manageable:
  • i.e. I coped with work by going there in the same way, doing the same things, eating the same thing/from the same place, and returning in the same way. I also listened to the same things whilst doing it (on mp3), I would have my work schedule so I would do things in the same way every day, etc. I would get extremely upset if any part of my routine went wrong, especially the transport side, and would have to be talked out of a meltdown over the phone. 
  • I enjoyed the repetitive work of running databases or data analysis, and therefore loved my job as an IT consultant in data/database analysis. It made working fun for once, and I could cope with it once I figured out my routine for each job.
  • When I realised I could no longer work (due to extensive chronic pain) and this had changed, I had a full breakdown and couldn’t cope for weeks. During this period I had a lot of extreme, even violent, meltdowns. 
  • I definitely cannot deal with transport going wrong in any way, whether it’s the car breaking down, trains being delayed, the tube line being closed, the bus terminating early (I especially freak out with that one, and end up calling my friend so she can calm me).
  • If there’s no general routine I get extremely anxious. Usually I now request a “briefing” beforehand to get my head around doing something different, and sometimes a “debrief” if something has been particularly stressful.
  • I absolutely cannot deal with impetuousness or impulsive behaviour, and I cannot cope with anything impulsive. I literally cannot even go to the bathroom without analysing it, contemplating it, and preparing for it (genuinely, and I often have had… accidents because of it (now I can’t move very well).
  • I absolutely cannot deal with people in my house, apart from those who live there. It’s my safe sanctuary and people invading it takes that away.  I can deal with 1 of my parents at a time, and my sister and her partner for a short visit, and my friend’s sister, but I require ongoing support to manage this and the visits. I don’t feel safe otherwise (there is no other word that explains how I feel any better…).
  • Each visit to the house requires forward planning and plenty of notice.
  • If my friend (who lives with me) wishes to go out/visit family etc, it must be pre-planned or I cannot cope.
  • If anything isn’t pre-planned at least a week in advance intend to get very anxious and panic.
  • I cannot sleep without my heart-shaped pillow (as a child I couldn’t sleep without specific toys)
  • Other pillows have to be set in a certain order, and [properly] placed in a certain way in the bed (and must be replaced in the same way each night, and returned particularly after changing bedclothes, or any other reason the bed is taken apart).

 

iii) Special Interests:

People with autism may develop an intense interest in a particular subject or activity. Interests can change over time or be lifelong. Practically everyone has interests or hobbies but you may find that your interests are very strong, and that possibly you aren’t especially interested in learning or talking about other things. 

  • I basically have intense obsessions with certain things that last for years, before another one upends it, then I become obsessed with the new thing instead. I will spend all hours possible thinking about, obsessing over, researching, data-gathering,
  • My obsessions have been long-standing. When I was a baby my father had to pre-record an entire cassette tape (both sides) with 1 song to get me to sleep: My Boomerang Won’t Come Back. I would listen to nothing else, and if it stopped I would wake up and cry. When I was a toddler, I was obsessed with Mary Poppins – I knew every word, every step and every song. I was three years old and I knew Supercalifragelisticexpialidocious. I knew every other song too. Then I used to scream at my father for getting things wrong when we would okay it out every day.
  • Since then there has been: She-Ra, The Beatles, reading (obsessed with different genres in turn), Titanic (the ship itself and the Jim Cameron movie), music and musical theatre and singing,  TV shows (obsessed with various genres, but mainly around crime), video games (Fable/Mass Effect/ Dragon Age), tech/gadgets/computers.
  • I have a few things to cope with life and anxiety: Games (Fable/Mass Effect/Dragon Age on Xbox 360 and Wii U), using my iPad, certain music (depending in where I am, what I’m doing and what type of anxiety I hate), writing, watching certain TV shows (each one I like has its own place depending on what type of anxiety I have). Also especially important, I have to do the same type of things at certain times, or during certain periods, or in certain places, etc. Like I manage an if/then code I have little control over.
  • I am utterly drawn to and obsessed with games (particularly Mass Effect [trilogy] and Dragon Age 2). When I can’t cope I play these games to feel better and I can play them for hours every time, most days.
  • For each thing I am drawn to get obsessed over, I research it to deal and learn everything there is to know about it. Throughout my life there have been various things I have become utterly obsessive and expert in – music/TV shows/films/games I play over and over again. These are my safe place and keeps me ‘happy’ and… OK. Calm. Peaceful. No noises in my head. When I’ve utterly exhausted each one (after a few years) I then subconsciously keep a mind out for the next one.
  • These obsessions comfort me, care for me, like a blanket. Keep my mind active. Keep me safe. A virtual world to run away from the one I don’t understand and scares me. Let’s me disconnect from the “real world” of other people’s rules and overwhelmingly confusing behaviour.
  • I find it very difficult to think about

 

iv) Mental Health Difficulties:

Some of the more common mental health difficulties that people with autism can experience are anxiety and depression. A related issue is self-injurious behaviour, such as hitting or cutting yourself. Mental health difficulties can be addressed, and often more successfully if professionals know that a person also has autism, so it’s important to discuss this with your GP.

I would be willing to wager that my history of troubles stem from all things mentioned thus-far. Since attempting to follow some of the advice that have been on related websites, and looking properly at how my mind works (or doesn’t…), I have tried certain techniques and practiced more tolerance towards myself and others – re-programming my brain with new information – and my life has become better for it. I feel a little calmer, somewhat safer, slightly more stable, don’t panic quite as easily, and have learned to be aware that I have no idea how to do things like read expressions, so I should ask what’s going on, as I certainly can’t guess. And I’ve learned to trust my friend some more.

  • Depression:
  • Self-harm:
  • Codeine:
  • Eating Disorders:

 

 

Taken From: 

http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/all-about-diagnosis/diagnosis-information-for-adults/how-do-i-get-a-diagnosis.aspx

The three main areas of difficulty

Social communication 

People with autism sometimes find it difficult to express themselves emotionally and socially. To give some examples, you may:

have difficulty understanding other people’s gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice

be unsure about when to start or end a conversation, or how to choose topics to talk about

talk or read very fluently but not fully understand the meaning of some of the more complex words and phrases you use

be very literal and sometimes struggle with jokes, metaphors, sarcasm or common turns of phrase, such as ‘She nearly bit my head off’.

 

Social interaction 

Plenty of people with autism want to be sociable and make friends, but often say they’re unsure how to go about this. Socialising can be difficult and may cause considerable anxiety. To give some examples, you may:

find it hard to make and maintain friendships

find other people unpredictable or confusing

not always understand the unwritten ‘social rules’ that other people just seem to know. How close do you stand to another person? How do you know what’s an appropriate topic of conversation?

be unsure how to behave in different social situations, and worry about getting things wrong.

 

Social imagination 

People with autism have difficulty with social imagination. To give some examples, you may:

find it hard to understand or interpret other people’s thoughts, feelings or actions – and therefore to understand their intentions or to predict what they’re going to do next

not always be comfortable with the idea of change, and prefer to stick to a routine

enjoy carrying out particular activities, or learning about certain topics, which as well as being enjoyable you may find really beneficial. Perhaps they help you to relax, or to deal with anxiety.

 

Many people with autism are imaginative (for example, they are accomplished writers, artists and musicians). If you’re quite creative, this shouldn’t automatically be taken as a sign that you do not have autism.

Related characteristics and conditions

As well as the three main areas of difficulty, you may find you have some of the following characteristics or conditions, which are quite common in people with autism. You should tell your GP about these, too.

Sensory difficulties

Sensory difficulties can affect all seven senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance (‘vestibular’) and body awareness (‘proprioception’).

You might find that you are either over-sensitive or under-sensitive to different stimuli. For example, you might be averse to bright lights, loud noises, some smells, particular food textures or the feeling of certain materials. Any of these could cause anxiety, possibly even pain.

You may also find it harder to use your balance and body awareness systems, which let us know how we’re moving and where our bodies are in space. So you might find it harder to navigate rooms avoiding obstructions, or go up and down stairs. You might also find that repetitive activities such as rocking, hand-flapping and spinning (which many people with autism do) help your balance and posture.

Love of routines

In an effort to make the world less confusing, you may have rules and rituals (ways of doing things) that you insist upon. You might also have a strong preference for routine, and find it difficult to cope with change if you haven’t been able to prepare for it in advance. For example, an unexpected delay to your journey to or from work might make you feel anxious or upset.

Special interests

People with autism may develop an intense interest in a particular subject or activity. Interests can change over time or be lifelong. Practically everyone has interests or hobbies but you may find that your interests are very strong, and that possibly you aren’t especially interested in learning or talking about other things. 

Mental health difficulties

Some of the more common mental health difficulties that people with autism can experience are anxiety and depression. A related issue is self-injurious behaviour, such as hitting or cutting yourself. Mental health difficulties can be addressed, and often more successfully if professionals know that a person also has autism, so it’s important to discuss this with your GP.

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