Am I Autistic?

Hi all! I am a 24 year old woman and I’ve recently been thinking that I might have a higher functioning form of autism. I’d like to get some outside opinions, just to make sure I’m not exaggerating in my head before I consider seeing a doctor. Here are some of the things that have made me think I could have autism:
1. I have always had significant difficulty relating to other people and keeping friends, mostly because I often feel I don’t know what to say to make conversation. I have tried different approaches to socializing and people often find me too aloof or too overbearing, and I haven’t been able to find a good middle ground between the two. There have been many times in my life that I had no friends at all.
2. I have always had a need to stick to specific routines. I only eat off of certain plates/bowls and with certain silverware, I must have my food prepared in very specific/detailed ways or eating it makes me feel sick, I can only wear clothes that fit in very specific ways or I feel like I’m suffocating, I cannot stand to step on any cracks in the road/sidewalk or I just feel wrong for the rest of the day, I can only hold/use my phone with my right hand, if I carry any money in my wallet all the bills must be facing the same way, I can’t stand if the furniture has been rearranged because the whole room feels foreign. These are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head, but there are plenty more.
3. I do repetitive movements that might be described as stimming, for example I compulsively crack my knuckles especially when I am uncomfortable, and if I’m especially uncomfortable I will clench up all the muscles in my body, which somehow makes me feel safer.
4. My maternal grandfather and cousin were both diagnosed with Aspergers, back when that was a diagnosis, so I have a family history.
5. I am very uncomfortable with any new things; for instance I hate traveling to new places where I don’t know what to expect, I am very uncomfortable meeting new people, even small deviations to my normal daily routine make me feel off and uncomfortable for the whole day, if I go to a new restaurant for example I have to research the place, read their menu, and know exactly what it looks like and exactly what I’m going to order before I feel comfortable going, and I like to watch other people ordering ahead of me so I can know I’m doing it right.
6. I don’t have one specific special interest that I’ve been interested in for my whole life, but I do tend to get very invested in varying interests. For example, after I watched the ted bundy documentary, I spent weeks researching ted bundy, finding out everything I could about him, and rewatching the documentary several times. And as you can imagine, once I started to think I might have autism, I spent hours at a time doing detailed research on traits of autism.
7. I got through high school and some of college with actually quite good grades, however school was always quite a struggle for me because I often felt I was different from everyone around me, and the reason I did well is because I often felt outcast from the people around me and those feelings made me force perfectionism onto myself in order to compensate. I eventually dropped out of college because the pressure to keep up in academia, support myself financially, and attempt to maintain a social life became too much for me to handle. Honestly, I felt that if I continued to pressure myself to finish college I was going to kill myself, so that’s why I dropped out.
8. I often feign interest in things other people talk about in order to more easily carry on a conversation. I’ve had to teach myself to not monopolize the conversation and to listen to things other people are interested in even though I usually find it very boring.
9. I have issues with sensory overload, for example I’m very sensitive to temperature and tend to get overheated easily; I cannot concentrate on a conversation if there are multiple inputs; for example if someone is trying to talk to me while there is TV playing in the background or if someone tries to talk to me in a loud setting I can’t concentrate on what is being said and I usually get overwhelmed and shut down; I am very sensitive to bad smells and find even the slightest unpleasant scent to be intolerable to be around; I am a very picky eater and if something tastes even slightly strange to me I cannot stand to eat it.
10. I get overwhelmed very easily when having to learn things that I don’t immediately understand. For example, the last time I got a new computer, I had to learn how to use it and had a huge meltdown halfway through the setup because it was so different from my old computer and I felt like I was never going to understand.

So based on these traits, I’m interested to see if other people think autism is a likely diagnosis for me or if I’m just overblowing things in my mind. I do tend to doubt myself just because I’m in my mid-twenties and have gone through life without a diagnosis thus far; however I know women and girls are less likely to be diagnosed in childhood, so I’m not sure what to think. I also doubt myself because I’ve been able to hold down a job and support myself as an adult, which makes me wonder if I’m neurotypical and I’m just overreacting to a few unusual traits of mine. I’d really appreciate any input, and if anyone does think I sound like I may have autism, I’d also appreciate feedback on whether diagnosis is a useful thing in adulthood or if it would be easier to just continue living my life the way I have been. Thank you!!

  • It certainly sounds like you have a lot of traits that are common to autism.  I definitely recognise a lot of what to say.  Your summary of your issues would be ideal when it comes to discussing it with your GP.

    You could also try some of the online tests available,  I would recommend the AQ10 to being with then the AQ50 as a follow up.  

  • Reading your post I would highly recommend speaking with your doctor and getting a referral. I did the same as you wrote down my traits and went to see my GP along with an online test I had taken highlighting possible high functioning autism or aspergers. 

    I have held a job for nearly 20 years so don't think just because you can hold a job down that you may not be on the spectrum. Holding a job comes with all kinds of stresses and worries but when we get home we can wind down in our own way. I need quiet time when the kids are in bed and sit in another room from my wife. I need to occupy my mind on my special interest to de-stress and chill.

    I can't really comment on how a diagnosis can help because I only got mine recently and only my wife and parents know. I haven't informed my employer as I don't know how I am going to tackle this situation because communication is a difficult area for me. I need time to figure out my next steps it could take weeks.

    Anyway best of luck with finding out if you are or aren't but reading your post if I was you and felt a diagnosis would help me in life and better understand myself, then I would go and see my GP and get things moving.

  • It could be, but it could be other things, or it could be down to multiple things. I was in your position a while ago, and avoided researching any particular thing too much in case it wasn't that. Having said that, getting a diagnosis for me meant I no longer had to worry about what my issue was. Therefore I would suggest you seek professional help, even though it can be difficult to get that help depending on where you live. However, if you are happy with yourself and don't need help or to know, then it may be easier for you to just carry on. Although as a completely unqualified unprofessional observer, you do appear to tick a lot of boxes... 8)

  • Lets go down your list.

    1, Most people to-day are like that. People have their Eyes on a phone all day, and there is less time for personal contact, I can only guess at 24 most of your previous friends have entered into a relationship with someone that excluded you. I am 80 in my younger days even for a telephone in a house the occupier had to go on a waiting list and perhaps have a shared line with a neighbour. When you picked up the phone you might be eaves dropping on a conversation. I suggest You make a short list of what you personally really like to do.  It could be wine making, Icing a cake, or it could be what you dream of. if you had the time, money etc like Learning to ride a bike, fly a plane.  Then do some research and have a go. 

    I will stop there. Forget the other worries, It helps if you have enough money. Forget about having to go to a Gym, find a rambling club instead. Learn about your locality. Find your Local Library, see what's going. I've just found a Community centre.  I thought was something else.and was helped to get Google Chrome on to my autistic son's laptop after he had removed it. 

  • So based on these traits, I’m interested to see if other people think autism is a likely diagnosis for me or if I’m just overblowing things in my mind.

    Reading what you wrote above was almost exactly like reading my approach to things ~ and I was diagnosed with ASD rather than Asperger's Syndrome due to the new DSM-5 criteria back in 2015:

    If you want to get an information pack about getting diagnosed with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), you can telephone the NAS (National Autistic Association) at any time on their helpline: 0808 800 4104, listen to the recorded instruction about getting an information pack ~ which involves pressing number one on your keypad, then asking for an adult diagnosis information pack, and leaving your name and or your address. It can take about a week or two to arrive, depending on demand and availability, and it will help guide you through the process of getting diagnosed, i.e. what you need to do and your legal rights and all that.
    If you are really really keen to get diagnosed ~ you may well have to learn to be rather patient indeed, and the diagnostic hangover is well worth preparing for!

  • Hi lovely, 

    You sound very much like me. When I was 23, my GP wanted to send me through the diagnostic process for AS, but I declined. 

    You may have AS. If you have grown up in a family of others with AS (which I have, too) then you may have picked up traits as a natural part of your behaviour. Some of these traits may also be related to more generalised anxiety. Some aspects could be part of being a highly sensitive person and an intelligent introvert. 

    In terms of whether a diagnosis will help, it's a very personal decision. Think about what you'd like, as a result. Diagnosis is a great gateway into supportive services (though, that can be dependant on funding in your area), especially in childhood. It can make it easier for you and others to understand, accept and work with you. However, it can also be limiting. It may make you feel more of an outsider, may cause others to treat you differently and, one thing that I think it's important for high functioning individuals to consider is that once you have that diagnosis, you may feel obligated to state it on application forms which, sadly and illegally may impact your chance of employment in future. 

    Personally, I didn't want a diagnosis because I felt it would hinder me in my circumstances. Same with my partner who feels he has AS (he presents very differently to me, as is common with male/ female AS, as you know). Both of us have grown up learning good coping mechanisms. I have more than him as I'm naturally more reflective than him, but we are working on building his together and both enjoying the journey. We work hard to accept ourselves and each other. 

    If you feel any thoughts/ behaviours are negatively impacting your life, it's always worth speaking to a GP. They will give you options and will never force you into anything. However, I want to tell you that there is NOTHING 'wrong' with the things you've listed. This world is made for extroverts, and I'm still learning to stop forcing myself to be one and to lean into my introversion. That helps a lot with being 'overbearing' in conversation. I also learned to be around good people who accept me as I am, though that's more challenging at work. I'm not good at holding down jobs either, but I'm about to start a job which is a little more solitary, which I think may help. 

    Please don't feel like an outsider- there are as many people like you as there are confident extroverts. They are simply louder so we notice them more. 

    Two books which might be nice to read in terms of accepting your personality traits are Quiet by Susan Cain and the Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron.