Am I autistic? Part 2

I asked the Facebook people on We Aten’t Dead. Although this is a Discworld fan group we’re allowed to go off-topic about anything apart from religion or politics, and it has turned out to be the best group I’ve ever been in. They’re brilliant at dealing with anything, and they gave me names of loads of great blogs and books to read. For a start there’s Samantha Craft’s checklist. It’s from a blog that’s now been retired but I’m all over it because she’s met many, many Aspie girls and put together her own version of how it presents in women. According to this I’m a walking bunch of clichés. Most of the stuff I do that’s not normal but I couldn’t stop is on this list. Here’s some highlights.

‘A prolific writer drawn to poetry.’

I’ve got a blog called ‘geekscribblings’ for goodness sake which, understandably, not many people read but which I add to anyway! Never got on with poetry though. Can’t figure it out.

‘*Highly intelligent.’

Hope so! You’re making me blush, Samantha.

‘Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything, continually.’

So people don’t normally do this outside the influence of drugs?

‘Serious and matter-of-fact in nature.’

‘That was a joke, Karen’ said most of my friends at some point.

‘Everything is complex.’

Well it is! The trouble comes when the media pretends it isn’t. #$!@ing Brexit…

‘Often gets lost in own thoughts and “checks out” (blank stare).’

Had a hand waved in my face a few times.

Naïve, honest, experiences trouble with lying.’

People say that like it’s a bad thing.

‘Finds it difficult to understand manipulation and disloyalty.’

Had those explained a few times.

‘Easily fooled and conned.’

My own mother is a wind-up merchant and even though I never catch on she keeps doing it!!

‘Feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed.’

This is probably why I never get anything done.

‘Feelings of being misplaced and/or from another planet.’

Feeling this hard.

‘Survives overwhelming emotions and senses by escaping in thought or action.’

‘Hello in there!’ they say as they wave at me.

‘Escapes regularly through fixations, obsessions, and over-interest in subjects.’

Exhibit A: this blog. A friend of mine: ‘I love your Discworld sewing. Worrying about the labels is a bit geeky though.’

‘Escapes routinely through imagination, fantasy, and daydreaming.’

Have you seen my writing?

‘Escapes through the rhythm of words.’

Did I tell you I was a G&S fan?

‘Had imaginary friends in youth.’

Well, who else would talk to me?

‘Makes friends with older or younger females more so than friends her age (often in young adulthood).’

Don’t even talk to me about teenage years. I sometimes bump into members of my school year. It’s awful to admit, but I can’t even remember most of the girls, though the boys are all over my Facebook!

‘Imitates friends or peers in style, dress, attitude, interests, and manner (sometimes speech).’

Yup, but stick me in a room with girls my own age and I stick out even more!

‘Obsessively collects and organizes objects.’

Lego. You haven’t seen my collection in raw form. It’d blow your mind.

‘Mastered imitation.’

Acting is the BEST!

‘Escapes by playing the same music over and over.’

‘I’m looking for new music,’ say other people. Uh, why? I know the words to every 80s power ballad EVER!

‘Escapes through counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging.’

The whole flat needs sorting but I’m at least one bookshelf short.

‘Escapes into other rooms at parties.’

Feeling this hard. Sorry I didn’t see you, uh, all night.

‘Cannot relax or rest without many thoughts.’

That’s what alcohol is for, isn’t it?

‘Generalized Anxiety.’

Big tick.

‘Sense of pending danger or doom.’

This got worse after I moved out of the city then went back to visit.

‘Feelings of polar extremes (depressed/over-joyed; inconsiderate/over-sensitive).’

For short bouts, thankfully.

‘Eating disorders, food obsessions, and/or worry about what is eaten.’

I got fat. I thought this was normal.

‘Irritable bowel and/or intestinal issues.’

This delightful little $#!@ showed up this year.

‘Chronic fatigue and/or immune challenges.’

Soooo… how tired do you have to be for it to be chronic fatigue and not laziness?

‘Experiences multiple physical symptoms, perhaps labeled “hypochondriac”.’

I labelled myself that when I was young after a string of doctor visits. Became reluctant to go, thinking I was draining the NHS.

‘Questions place in the world, often drops small objects, wonders who she is and what is expected of her, searches for right and wrong.’

You mean not everybody does this?

‘Since puberty has had bouts of depression (may have PMDD).’

Not sure if it counts as proper depression or life.

‘Flicks/rubs fingernails, picks scalp/skin, flaps hands, rubs hands together, tucks hands under or between legs, keeps closed fists, paces in circles, and/or clears throat often.’

Try sucking fingernails passing it off as biting, chewing knuckles, rocking side to side when standing, and, yes, clearing throat.

Friends have ended friendship suddenly (without female with AS understanding why) and/or difficult time making friends.’

Buggers. They can all get knotted.

‘Tendency to overshare.’

Well, someone’s gonna have to listen!

‘Raised hand too much in class or didn’t participate in class.’

Me and Hermione Granger, we’d have got on well.

‘Little impulse control with speaking when younger. Monopolizes conversation at times. Brings subject back to self.’

Ha ha ha ha ha! I learnt eventually: when their eyes glaze over, stop.

‘Holds a lot of thoughts, ideas, and feelings inside.’

Well, that’s because their eyes glazed over!

‘Confused by the rules of accurate eye contact, tone of voice, proximity of body, body stance, and posture in conversation.’

‘Karen, you’re shouting again’ says my sister for the infinityeth time.

‘Conversation are often exhausting.’

I stop talking. He starts again. Oh boy.

‘Questions the actions and behaviors of self and others, continually.’

I think I insulted a 9-year-old yesterday. Twice. Spent all day thinking about it.

‘Trained self in social interactions through readings and studying of other people.’

Big Fun Book of Social Interaction.

‘Visualizes and practices how she will act around others, practices/rehearses in mind what she will say to another before entering the room.’

See above.

‘Difficulty filtering out background noise when talking to others.’

So it wasn’t just noisy?

‘Sense of humor sometimes seems quirky, odd, inappropriate, or different from others.’

Ha ha ha ha ha. Said no-one.

‘As a child it was hard to know when it was her turn to talk.’

Got told off for talking too soon. Couldn’t get back in before they changed the subject.

‘Feels extreme relief when she doesn’t have to go anywhere, talk to anyone, answer calls, or leave the house but at the same time will often harbor guilt for “hibernating” and not doing “what everyone else is doing”.’

And people wonder why I don’t spend evenings ringing friends. See that front door? I’m staying behind it.

‘One visitor at the home may be perceived as a threat (this can even be a familiar family member).’

Have I got enough milk? Did I hoover? Is the washing up done etc, etc…

‘Knowing logically a house visitor is not a threat, doesn’t relieve the anxiety.’

They’ve gone. I did it!

‘Feelings of dread about upcoming events and appointments on the calendar.’

It was alright when I agreed to go…

‘Knowing she has to leave the house causes anxiety from the moment she wakes up.’

This. This right here is why I can’t get to work early. I need to stop after every prep stage.

‘All the steps involved in leaving the house are overwhelming and exhausting to think about.’

‘Let’s look at FB again.’ And outside, eons pass…

‘She prepares herself mentally for outings, excursions, meetings, and appointments, often days before a scheduled event.’

Need to get that done by Tues, that by Fri…

‘OCD tendencies when it comes to concepts of time, being on time, tracking time, recording time, and managing time (could be carried over to money, as well).’

I’m never late. Which is a shame cos everyone else is.

‘Telling self the “right” words and/or positive self-talk (CBT) doesn’t typically alleviate anxiety. CBT may cause increased feelings of inadequacy.’

Oh heck. Feeling this.

‘Knowing she is staying home all day brings great peace of mind.’

‘What do you mean you didn’t change out of pyjamas on Sunday?’ said everyone.

‘Requires a large amount of down time or alone time.’

At least 2 evenings a week or I lose it.

‘Feels guilty after spending a lot of time on a special interest.’

Yeah, but I put it on a blog so…

‘Uncomfortable in public locker rooms, bathrooms, and/or dressing rooms.’

This is one blight of amateur dramatics and why I haven’t joined a gym.

‘Dislikes being in a crowded mall, crowded gym, and/or crowded theater.’

People. Everywhere!!! I don’t visit my hometown at all on December weekends. Online shopping is ace!

Sensitive to sounds, textures, temperature, and/or smells when trying to sleep.’

Who falls asleep anywhere? Oh yeah, my old mate Eric.

‘Dreams are anxiety-ridden, vivid, complex, and/or precognitive in nature.’

Sounds much cooler than being chased up a mountain by the cast of Star Trek…

‘Highly empathetic, sometimes to the point of confusion.’

‘What are you getting upset about that for?’ says everyone.

‘Takes criticism to heart.’

Don’t read the reviews till they’ve been vetted.

‘Questions if she is a “normal” person.’

Please see title of this post.

‘Highly susceptible to outsiders’ viewpoints and opinions.’

‘That’s their opinion, not yours,’ says everyone.

‘Recognizes own limitations in many areas daily, if not hourly.’

This is probably why I haven’t taken many chances. Or changed job.

‘Fears others opinions, criticism, and judgment.’

See above.

‘Huge compassion for suffering (sometimes for inanimate objects/personification).’

Can’t stand horror films, just about managed the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood. If there’s been a disaster I psyche myself up for a few hours before reading the news.

‘Questions life purpose and how to be a “better” person.’

I get low when I can’t find an answer.

‘Feels trapped between wanting to be herself and wanting to fit in.’

More or less given up on the fitting in part. Disney made it sound like one leads to the other. Lying $&#@…

‘Suppresses true wishes (often in young adulthood).’

Not even sure what they are by now.

‘Adapts self in order to avoid ridicule.’

Yeah, that didn’t work.

‘Rejects social norms and/or questions social norms.’

This might have something to do with friends suddenly vanishing.

‘Feeling good about self takes a lot of effort and work.’

‘Nuff said.

‘Switches behavior based on environment and other people.’

Easier to get things done if you avoid the argument.

‘Didn’t care about her hygiene, clothes, and appearance before teenage years and/or before someone else pointed these out to her.’

Paging my sister. And half of high school…

‘“Freaks out” but doesn’t know why until later.’

I thought that was PMT.

‘Trouble recognizing what she looks like and/or has occurrences of slight prosopagnosia (difficulty recognizing or remembering faces).’

Other people track me down first. These days I let ’em, it’s easier.

‘Feels significantly younger on the inside than on the outside (perpetually twelve).’

It was great being twelve. Now I’m a haggard wreck.

Had a hard time learning that others are not always honest.’

Bunch of #$@!. I mean, why?

‘Feelings seem confusing, illogical, and unpredictable (self’s and others’).’

Now I sound like Spock.

‘Confuses appointment times, numbers, and/or dates.’

Phone calendar. It’s the only way.

‘Jokes go over the head.’

Was that a punchline? Oh.

‘Confused when others ostracize, shun, belittle, trick, and betray.’

Last week you complained she lied to you and now you’re WHAT?

‘Trouble with emotions of hate and dislike.’

It’s way too exhausting. Why would anyone live based on hating entire groups?

‘Feels sorry for someone who has persecuted or hurt her.’

Mum: ‘Will you pack that in? They’re losers!’

‘The middle spectrum of outcomes, events, and emotions is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood (all or nothing mentality), a small fight might signal the end of a relationship or collapse of world.’

Um, sorry.

‘Likes to know word origins and/or origin of historical facts/root cause and foundation.’

It’s fun!

‘High interest in songs and song lyrics.’

I can sing, which is brilliant with this.

‘Has a remarkable memory for certain details.’

Ha, yeah. Certain details in the pub quiz. Nothing important!

‘Writes or creates to relieve anxiety.’

How many pages on this blog so far?

‘Has certain “feelings” or emotions towards words and/or numbers.’

8 is lovely.

‘Learning to drive a car or rounding the corner in a hallway can be troublesome.’

Here’s the thing. 3 years of driving lessons. 6 tests. I’m proud of getting there but it cost me hundreds of pounds!

‘Anything that requires a reasonable amount of steps, dexterity, or know-how can rouse a sense of panic.’

Give me a chart and I might be okay.

‘Mundane tasks are avoided, cleaning self and home may seem insurmountable.’

Mum thinks I talk about cleaning cos I have very high standards. No, it’s the mental pressure of avoiding it for two weeks.

‘Might leave the house with mismatched socks, shirt buttoned incorrectly, and/or have dyslexia and/or dysgraphia.’

I managed without dyslexia but I was fighting the urge to not leave the house at all AND couldn’t be bothered to sort the socks!

‘Trouble copying dance steps, aerobic moves, or direction in a sports gym class.’

Oh heck, I’ve signed up for dance. Does it get any better?

‘Has a hard time finding certain objects in the house but remembers with exact clarity where other objects are; not being able to locate something or thinking about locating something can cause feelings of intense anxiety (object permanence challenges) (even with something as simple as opening an envelope).’

Other people don’t get pissed off with losing things?

So that’s the checklist. One reason I lose friends is they might say ‘ring me up sometime.’ If I actually ring you up sometime you’d better be damn sure I want to know you, cos it probably took 2-3 evenings of mental preparation. What time is polite? What if they’re doing something important? What do I say? It winds me up that they’ll give me the responsibility of remembering to ring and drop you if you don’t, even though they never tried to ring me and wouldn’t have the associated baggage doing it!

So that just leaves my mother. She doesn’t believe I might be autistic in any way, perhaps because she has some of these traits herself! ‘You’re not autistic, you just think differently.’ Yes. That’s literally what it is!

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