HFA or Canine?

This is not to make light of ASD, it's just some things I've noticed and thought I'd share because they seem strange AND strangely familiar to me since my own diagnosis.

My dog adores people, he just can't get enough of them and expects only good things from them. A cuddle from any random person makes him even happier than food - and that's saying something! This makes sense to me because i feel exactly the same about animals, dogs in particular. The thing is, having HFA, I'm nowhere near so relaxed around people and at times actively avoid them because I just can't cope with the stress of social situations. My dog appears to feel this way about other dogs: although he will sometimes tolerate female dogs he often gets so stressed even seeing another dog in the distance that he has what can only be described as severe meltdowns! These meltdowns are entirely out of character compared with his normally friendly, eager-to-please personality. 

He's highly intelligent (a Border Collie / Springer Spaniel cross) and can open doors (inward or outward opening), appears to know the time (to the minute) when his meals are due even when i forget, gets highly excited when we spell w-a-l-k or o-u-t (among other things) and can perform a whole host of weird and wonderful tricks and tasks. He also runs into glass doors, regularly falls off the sofa in an ungainly heap, and has tripped over his own legs more times than I can count. The perfect combination of intelligence and stupidity that I appear to share!  

He alerts us to strangers approaching the house, becoming suddenly deeply-gruff and big 'n' brave sounding (for no reason, he welcomes everyone inside happily, he just SOUNDS brave - masking?) and insists on going ahead on walks or through doorways, stopping to look back as if to say "All clear, it's safe here." He even looks large and imposingly heroic, but he's strangely scared of bananas!? And spiders. And fluff that might be a spider. And the word "ears". And babies.  For myself, I've faced down many challenges in life, big and small, but can't cope with ticking clocks, repetitive bass, the colour purple, or socks with an uneven seam. (Or diagnoses with no follow-up!) 

Either my dog is similarly HFA or I've evolved canine traits.    


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  • Hi Endymion,

    I have a Border collie (4years old) and I can so recognise his character in your description. Very intelligent with a large vocabulary of words he recognises and a built in clock which is very accurate. Time for a treat or meal or walk is always within a few minutes. This suits my need for routines so works really well for me.

    He is also highly sociable with people we meet on our walks and to a lesser extent with most dogs unless they are much larger and aggressive. He has had some bad experiences by being too trusting with some and getting rushed or mauled. He comes from farming stock so is fascinated by sheep we see on our walks and adopts the classic low to the ground approach. He was easy to train and obeys my calls and whistles instantly although he is just a pet and I never attempted to train him to round up sheep.

    I would miss him hugely if we were parted.

    Take care, Laddie.