Published on 12, July, 2020
I'm not really sure how to start. I guess with my name which you can all see. I'm Raven (which is a pen name, not my real name). I've gotten into another research rut as I like to call them, only this one isn't going away as easily as all the others. This one of course is on the topic of autism. It all started when I was at a restaurant getting really stressed out being with a bunch of people I didn't know well where it was loud and hot, etc. My step dad asked me a question (I can't even remember what) and I answered in my typically long winded way. When I finished he asked me, "why don't you ever look at people when you're talking to them?" That was the last straw.
I've been weird for forever. Ever since I was a little kid I preferred to be alone reading about dinosaurs, then reading Percy Jackson (and other books), then writing my own stories. I had friends. If I had anything to say about the things we did together it would be roll playing PJ or Ninjago (which was one of my favorite shows) or just sitting and talking or playing magic the gathering. I was never into the typical kid things like tag or hide and seek or anything of the sort. If I was going to play it had to have a story and I generally had to be the one telling it. Which meant we mostly sat around while I wrote and adjusted the story and told it to everyone and I'd get upset when anyone offered input because it wasn't the way I had planned it. According to my mother when I was little I was also notorious for dressing up my dolls and putting them in my doll house all pretty then staring at the and telling the story in my head rather than actually playing. I had friends when I was at school (more accurately at my after school program) as I mentioned before, but the moment I got home I was on my own again meaning that I never really had anyone over (with a few exceptions). In class I was always closer to my teachers than peers. Adults have always been easier to talk to for whatever reason and it didn't help that I was especially lonely in class because all of my friends were in the after school program I went to and I have a lot of trouble making temporary friends.
I'm shy, very shy. My parents tried to change that when my brother decided to play baseball. I wanted to play baseball with him, but my parents (at least my mom) said I should play softball instead because the friends I did have at the time were all boys and as a "girl" (I'm actually genderfluid, but whatever) I apparently needed girl friends. That plan didn't work. Every year I was the outsider on the team no matter how hard I tried. I preferred spending time with my brother's travel teammates because they stayed generally static each year so I learned their names and enjoyed playing older sister to all of them. Eventually I made my way onto a travel team as well. A team with older girls that I didn't know and that cared about things entirely outside of my range of interests which was mostly writing and books at the time. They had social media and talked about school and boys and all that kind of stuff. I was sort of friends with a few of the other weirdos on the team, but I still never really fit with them. I was an outsider as per usual. I did my best to make everyone like me, but it was never successful. In retrospect I probably looked dumb and immature. But I digress.
The next year I made it onto a different team that is very, very accepting of my and my weirdness. There are no confusing cliques that I need to navigate. Even though I still struggle socially around them and I'm still a bit of an outsider I feel safe with them and I know that they genuinely like me and care about me. I'm sure I come off as a little bit of an annoying know it all, but that's part of who I am and their acceptance of that has done wonders for me. The first time I met them we were at a team pool party, so I was being shy and awkward as per usual, standing off to the side of the pool while everyone else played a game and talked and chatted, even the other new girls. Then the miraculous happened, I was invited over to play. Though I still didn't talk much that day, it was the first time that had ever happen in my working memory.
Around the same time is when I started losing touch with my really close elementary school friends. They moved on and I stayed put with generally the same interests and I just... I didn't want anything to change. But thankfully I did make two friends who I will be eternally grateful for and I am still friends with them to this day, eight years later. I'm very close to them despite the fact that the three of us don't hang out a ton except on like winter break, my birthday in the spring, and during summer, but we do see each other in school everyday again which is nice. AP calculus is nowhere near as awful as it should be since G (I will call my one friend this for short) is with me. But even they are moving on a bit, making other friends. I know that's a normal thing, but for me its hard watching them slowly drift away. As college looms closer I fear that I'll never see them again even though I know rationally that's not true because they are my good friends and despite my fears of the contrary they do care about me just as much as I do them. Change is just really hard and scary. I've been in the same town my entire life. I want to go off to college and have an adventure and find myself, but like... that also sounds like the worst because absolutely nothing will be the same and that makes me want to lose my mind.
Anyway, I think I've already started rambling too much. So I'll finally get to the point. I've been researching autism and I think that I might be autistic. Over the course of my life time I've been compared to an autistic person on multiple occasions and not too long before the restaurant incident I was talking with my guidance counselor about why blue and silver look good together and after listening to me he said something like "wow, if I didn't know better I'd think you were autistic because of the way you think and see things." Then when I asked him if that was possible he wrote me off as being too good at school and having friends and softball and such. I'm also a hypochondriac so I'm extremely paranoid that I'm just making things up or unconsciously faking things to match up with what I've read online. I've been stimming more (but only around my girl friend who is extremely accepting of me and my weirdness), I've been hyper aware of how sensitive I am to my environment as well. I've struggled with sensitivities for years, but my dad is an alcoholic (and my step dad also had a drinking problem but is now sober) so I grew up in an unsafe environment with plenty of verbal abuse and lots of loud music and screaming. I've always had to hide who I am in order to survive, including not covering my ears when things are loud or complaining when the tag on my clothes is bothering me, etc. But I also am missing lots of memories from my childhood because of the abuse so I'm worried I'm misremembering events and filling in some of the gaps with things that make me seem more autistic. I also feel though that I've always been the way that I am now only my anxiety was much better back then. I used to be obsessed with dinosaurs. Like obsessed obsessed. I've always had trouble making friends. I'm extremely literal and often get made fun of (though I think they mean it light heartedly) by my brother and stepdad for not getting certain jokes and sarcasm and stuff like that. Though I think I annoyed the crud out of my brother when he learned about "your mama" jokes and would tell them to me, but I'd rebuttal with "we have the same mother so in essence you're insulting your own mom." I've had what I call anxiety attacks for years but I'm not sure if that really fits. I just called them that because once someone told me the way I feel is called anxiety so I went with that. My sophomore year especially was really bad. My dad was drinking really bad that year, there was covid, school was stressful since I was taking two APs. I remember walking through the halls and getting more and more freaked out and dizzy and just out of it for no reason at all. I'd dig my nails into my skin in class to try to focus and scratch my arms and rub the heal of my palms against my thighs (only when I wasn't wearing long pants though). Since then I haven't had anything close to that degree (I don't think) without a cause.
On the other hand I do have friends, I do well in school, I can't remember ever having difficulties with like... general school noise or general light or smell sensitivities that I hear is supposed to be hell until high school (though I've always had very random and specific ones like getting a massive head ache from certain cleaning sprays and preferring cloudy days because the blinding sun isn't out and I don't have to always look at my feet when I walk in order to be able to see), and I don't have meltdowns or shutdowns. Unless you count a meltdown as me crying at Target as a kid because I got so stressed out over trying to decide between two things that I wanted when I had only saved enough money for one of them. And growing up in the environment that I did you'd expect someone who is autistic to often have meltdowns (but that is just a generalization from what I read online and I could be completely wrong).
When I mentioned this to my mom she said this is like the time I thought I had cancer (though I mostly thought that because I was completely exhausted all the time and constantly wore long sleeves and stuff in the middle of summer although I think I might have just been in burn out at that time because I was transitioning to high school at the time and it feels very similar to how I feel now panicking about college. I'm living in my heavy Cooperstown sweatshirt) and like the time I thought I had dyslexia (which I definitely don't but I was looking for a reason why I have so much difficulty processing things mostly verbally, but also written. It's been my motto since starting my advanced track in school that my brain is just slower than everyone else's which is frustrating, soooooo frustrating), or the time I thought I had hearing damage because I couldn't hear very well when I'm in noisy environments. And honestly, she might be right. My therapist also wrote me off when I brought it up to her as results of trauma.
In reality, the more time that passes since I left my dad's house the more autistic I seem and the more I feel like I'm able to be myself. The anxiety is going down bit by little bit (general anxiety anyway), but the rest of my quirks remain. I don't know. I might be crazy. Either way I can't afford an official diagnosis, but I... I'd like to feel validated. Or at least told by the autistic community that I'm being paranoid and crazy because all of you live this everyday.
PS. I'm pretty sure my girl friend is autistic. Like... I may have started research to answer questions about myself, but she seems to be a textbook masking autistic person. Sensitivities to food texture so she's the most picky eater that I know (on the other hand I'm not picky at all, I just tend to like the same things over and over again. But I'm never opposed to try something new if its made at home), she tells me that she has never really had any real friends until she met me, she had to learn how to socialize from her mother because she grew up having no filter (I on the other hand tend to never say the things on my mind unless I'm in a really comfortable situation. That is unless I know from experience a certain topic will cause bad things) and was super awkward and stuff, she was also always closer to adults than peers, etc. She is very good with sarcasm and stuff though and her brain works much faster than mine, and she doesn't stim at all, or at least visibly that I've noticed except for the typical stim of nail chewing.
Thank you! Sorry this is so long
Hi Raven and welcome.
Rather than being any more crazy than anybody is else on average, alot of what you wrote about seemed somewhat familiar to me as someone diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome ~ so maybe consider the following:
And perhaps also do the Autistic Quotient 50 Test and see if you get above 32, or also any of the others that might be befitting for you ~ via the following link:
Thank you! I'll try the test. I've been trying to avoid them because I've done a lot of reading that says their not super accurate. And I've seen that video three or four times now. It was actually Yo Samdy Sam in one of her videos that recommended joining an online forum to speak to autistic people and get insight and see if you fit which is how I ended up here. I'm still compiling data from my life trying to see if I do something or experience things that are in the criteria for autism on the DSM-V and so far I've hit all the boxes even if in not stereotypical ways. My big issue is that I have trouble remembering some of my childhood because of the abuse I went through (something about memory repression) so I'm not sure if I've always been like this and am just hyperaware of just how weird I am now or if I am suddenly doing things to fit the diagnostic criteria just because I've been doing research. My actions now feel like my actions before, more natural even now that I'm out of my unsafe environment. I relate a lot to the autistic community (I think anyway, this is my first time on a forum. My only previous experience is with lots of articles, blogs, scholarly articles although those aren't written by the autistic community, and youtube videos. Oh, and of course neurodivergent side of Pinterest), I've always struggled socially despite having friends, my family constantly calls me weird and quirky and I'm always compared to an alien or something. Even so, I just... I don't know. Teenagers want to stand out, right? I could just be faking it to feel different or whatever. I don't know.
Omg, I need to stop rambling. I am so, so sorry, community.
Thank you again for the test!