Autistic Symptoms With Good "Social Intelligence"

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Should I look for a therapist who has more (any) experience with autism?
Yes 89%  89%  [ 8 ]
No - its not worth changing therapists 11%  11%  [ 1 ]
No - I don't think you're autistic 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 9

petraA
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21 Jan 2021, 5:30 am

So for some context I am a 21 year old woman passionate about computer science and choral music and I suffer from a rare autoinflammatory condition called Behcets disease as well as Major Depressive Disorder (triggered in part by the above disease).

Since getting sick I have noticed a lot of things that used to be an issue for me as a child comming up again that seem in line with ASD but that I didn't really suffer from much during High School and my first year of College. I mostly attribute this to 1.) Basically having my dream life and going to nerd school and 2.) Being way too invested in my passions to let much of this affect me.

My husband is almost certainly on the spectrum and displays all the stereotypical autistic traits: social difficulties, particularly around metaphor and customs, sensory issues, and special interests (his is graph theory which is quite compatible with my interest in CS)

While I did have some social difficulties as a child, and always kind of positioned myself as an outsider, I am now considered to be very emotionally intelligent by most of my friends and my social skills are often seen as a strength when I am in leadership positions (which I frequently take on). While I will admit that most of my friends are autistic / computer science nerds I also feel I would fare okay in most regular environments and don't have social anxiety aside from showing up places in my wheelchair when necessary which is closer linked to medical trauma.

I have definitely always had special interests including fairies as a small child (got in trouble for sneaking out to perform secret "magic rituals"), The Titanic, social justice, and of course coding and singing which I was able to pursue to great success in High School.

My main issues are sensory, motor, and speech difficulties, particularly when I am fatigued. I was given a full work up for epillepsy and neurological issues and dismissed. But when stressed / overwhelmed I am sometimes completely unable to move and speak. I feel trapped in my own body and my husband stuggles to understand what I am going through. I have also found myself more sensitive when sick/tired to certain stimuli (loud noises, clothing that is tight on arms, socks of any sort except for those thin stockings and even then eww) and more obsessive over certain things like I was as a kid (I had a ring as a kid that I would freak out if anyone touched and I've become a bit that way about my wedding ring where I totally lose it if I so much as set it down to wash dishes). I also find myself doing the repetative leg tapping that used to drive my parents crazy, particularly around doctors appointments or other situations that stress me out. In addition, my attachment to certain routines around bedtime and like having the right pillow, my water in the right spot, my phone in the right spot, etc is way more important to me than in high school or my first year of college.

I guess my question is:

1.) Is it possible to be autistic and not socially awkward?
2.) Is it possible that some of my recent issues are related to autism?
3.) How do I explain this experience with ?autism to my husband who has had a very different one? (Ie. One fully centered around social difficulties)

Thanks!
Petra



diagnosedafter50
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21 Jan 2021, 6:52 pm

Hello #petraA

I tend to answer posts in the way they are written, I often only read the first bit but I read all of yours and will answer your poll after my reply.
Special interests are common in people on the spectrum. I once knew a man who had Behcets disease, I don't know about it, but it distressed this poor man, sorry it has given you Major Depressive Disorder.

Things that used to be an issue for me as a child coming back up again that seem in line with ASD, may be due to stress. I stim more when stressed, and more prone to autistic meltdowns. I assume you didn't really suffer these much during High School and your first year of College because you were happy doing the things you loved.

I am glad your husband and you get along well.

Social difficulties as a child, and feeling like an outsider are common in autism.
You mentioned you liked fairies, reading fairytales as a child is scientifically proven to increase social skills and emotional intelligence - If you read fiction and fairytales as a child, this might be the reason you are emotionally intelligent and socially skilled.
I have read that readers are leaders, which, if you did read fiction and fairytales, may have greatly helped your social skills.
Bill Gates is on the spectrum, he read as a child.
Most of your friends are autistic / computer science nerds, so you feel among kindred spirits I am guessing, yet you also feel you would fare okay in most regular environments and don't have social anxiety aside from showing up places in your wheelchair when necessary which is closer linked to medical trauma. I don't see wheelchairs I see the people inside them, my ex-boss had to use one, we got on fine, she had social skills, I saw her with a book in her hand.

I love singing, Temple Grandin and many others on the spectrum can sing absolute pitch, it is a common spectrum thing.

Sensory, motor, and speech difficulties, particularly when fatigued could be AS related, please note, I am an Aspie not a diagnostician.
My mind goes blank when stressed, like a wire from my brain to my mouth gets severed.
Some autistic people lack cognitive empathy, especially if they never read as children. I didn't read, I have affective empathy.
I can't stand loud noises, I cannot use certain power tools as the vibrations are too much for me, all I can say is that many parts of your post in my opinion resonate with autism. Repetitive leg tapping might be stimming. Our parents were cross with us for stimming as it wasn't recognised as self soothing behaviours. My mother used to tell me off for rocking back and forth. The parts about your routines could also post to AS, but I stress I am autistic yet not qualified to diagnose. I must add it would be good if assessors were HFA then they would know how it feels to be autistic.

In answer to your questions, in my humble opinion:-

1.) Is it possible to be autistic and not socially awkward? Yes, especially if you read fiction as a child or engaged in some other creative activity, literature is scientifically proven to improve social skills in AS people.
2.) Is it possible that some of my recent issues are related to autism? Just my view, but yes, plus your earlier issues.
3.) How do I explain this experience with ?autism to my husband who has had a very different one? (Ie. One fully centered around social difficulties) There is a well known saying in the autistic community, "If you have met one autistic, you have met one" That is to say, although there are many specific commonalities on the spectrum due to how our brains are wired, we all manifest our AS symptoms differently, and even fellow autistic people can misunderstand us because of our individual differences within the spectrum

Hope that helps. :)



petraA
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22 Jan 2021, 12:35 am

The literature note is interesting, I started reading around age 4 and went through just about every book in my elementary school. I read a lot of historical fiction, diaries, science fiction, fantasy, and of course fairy books (I was most obsessed with fairies between 5 and 8 then switched more to history then sci fi in aliance with learning to code). My husband and I actually met on a forum for a book series (Ender Game) we both loved. So its definitely interedting to hear that might be related to social skills. I also do remember sort of pretending to be characters from books as a kid so I guess that would have given me context for how to behave around other people.

I don't have perfect (absolute) pitch, although I know a few autistic people who do. I do have strong relative pitch and a very good ear that carried me for a long time in memorizing music as all my choirs did not perform with scores.

One of the most distressing things about Behcets is it has wrecked my energy and made it hard for me to read, code, or sing which basically cuts me off from all my interests. I kinda feel purposeless which starts off my depression.



diagnosedafter50
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22 Jan 2021, 7:09 am

petraA wrote:
The literature note is interesting, I started reading around age 4 and went through just about every book in my elementary school. I read a lot of historical fiction, diaries, science fiction, fantasy, and of course fairy books (I was most obsessed with fairies between 5 and 8 then switched more to history then sci fi in aliance with learning to code). My husband and I actually met on a forum for a book series (Ender Game) we both loved. So its definitely interedting to hear that might be related to social skills. I also do remember sort of pretending to be characters from books as a kid so I guess that would have given me context for how to behave around other people.

I don't have perfect (absolute) pitch, although I know a few autistic people who do. I do have strong relative pitch and a very good ear that carried me for a long time in memorizing music as all my choirs did not perform with scores.

One of the most distressing things about Behcets is it has wrecked my energy and made it hard for me to read, code, or sing which basically cuts me off from all my interests. I kinda feel purposeless which starts off my depression.

BINGO I knew you read fiction, that helped you socially, without it you would have struggled.
Sorry the Bechets is getting in the way, what about audio books.



petraA
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22 Jan 2021, 11:45 am

Audio books tend to be worse for me cause I often tune out / lose track of them. I have got into reading a lot of non-fiction on Blinkist and reading more news articles and short fiction.



diagnosedafter50
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22 Jan 2021, 12:05 pm

petraA wrote:
Audio books tend to be worse for me cause I often tune out / lose track of them. I have got into reading a lot of non-fiction on Blinkist and reading more news articles and short fiction.

I don't think I answered your poll.
Despite us supposing to be familiar with autism, I think you need to see an autism specialist and stress the fact that the only reason you have good social skills is because you read fiction. You can even say that scientific research backs fiction reading with good social skills even in autistic people.
Someone by the name of Treffert (spelling) says autistic people can be hyperlexic and reading early helps with social skills. you can research articles yourself to see that fiction reading helps autistic people with social skills.
A lot of aspergers like sci fi and have good social skills but have great difficiutlites with sensory issues and other autistic difficulties.



Peta
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23 Jan 2021, 5:59 am

Alot social things can be learned with practice



petraA
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23 Jan 2021, 10:43 pm

This is all good and interesting to hear. I found a clinic near me that specializes in ASD in women and am going to try to make an appointment. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to make them my go to therapist cause they are really expensive, but they might be able to give me some direction and maybe even a referral to someone else as well. Do you think an ASD specialist will be able to help me in ways that my regular psych people haven't? I feel like they will be better equiped just cause they won't make bad assumptions (like about my social isolation causing my distress or about my episodes being so dangerous) but I am not sure what things they might offer to help. I guess what I am looking for is how other aspies find meaning besides just pursuing their special interests successfully and full time cause thats not really an option for me anymore.



petraA
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24 Jan 2021, 4:44 am

So I took the CAT-Q which tests for how much masking you do basically and I scored higher than average for female ASD on compensation and masking so yeah... I guess I have just gotten very good at developing masking and social skills. I didn't score very high for an autistic on assimilation mostly cause I have made it large part of my personailty to be different and "weird" so I don't often make a concious effort to appear normal, only to be socially aware.

https://embraceasd.com/cat-q/#CATQ

My scores:

Total: 135
Compensation: 55
Masking: 42
Assimilation: 38

Autistic Average (women / men)
Total: 124 / 110
Compensation: 43 / 37
Masking: 38 / 33
Assimilation: 45 / 40

Neurotypical Average (women / men)
Total: 91 / 97
Compensation: 27 / 30
Masking: 35 / 36
Assimilation: 29 / 30

I find it interesting that in NT men score higher than women in every category but for ASD its the reverse.



kraftiekortie
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24 Jan 2021, 7:35 am

It took me a long time to acquire decent “social intelligence.” It’s a “learned” thing with people with autism. Within SOME NTs, it comes naturally.

How are things going with your present therapist? Maybe, if the therapist is inexperienced with autism, you can teach the therapist about it. Maybe, then, this therapist will be more helpful.

I wouldn’t change therapists, though, if things are going well with your present one, and you haven’t lined up a new one.

Sort of like a job.



diagnosedafter50
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24 Jan 2021, 7:51 am

petraA wrote:
This is all good and interesting to hear. I found a clinic near me that specializes in ASD in women and am going to try to make an appointment. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to make them my go to therapist cause they are really expensive, but they might be able to give me some direction and maybe even a referral to someone else as well. Do you think an ASD specialist will be able to help me in ways that my regular psych people haven't? I feel like they will be better equiped just cause they won't make bad assumptions (like about my social isolation causing my distress or about my episodes being so dangerous) but I am not sure what things they might offer to help. I guess what I am looking for is how other aspies find meaning besides just pursuing their special interests successfully and full time cause thats not really an option for me anymore.

I'm in the UK and didn't have to pay, sorry.
I would see an AS specialist myself.
My life is pretty empty, due to depressing circumstances from bad choices I made.
I would research AS online and see what resonates with you and tell them as much as possible. My assessor appreciated the large amount of information I gave her.



Ettina
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13 Feb 2021, 10:17 am

There are people who have autistic-style social difficulties without any of the non-social traits - the DSM V refers to them as having social communication disorder. It stands to reason that the reverse pattern might also be seen in some people.

Or you might have learned to compensate, as others have mentioned. If so, during an assessment it might help to go into detail about how you compensate, because some professionals have started to recognize that autistic masking is a thing.



SharonB
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18 Feb 2021, 4:23 pm

I have an "Autistic average score". Does that mean I'm like an average Autistic woman? :wink: (self-selected for those who take online tests). I wonder how generally neurodiverse (not ASD) would rank on this --- don't study social skills maybe, but still can't be themselves.

Thanks for the test link.
CAT-Q: 124
compensation: 41
masking: 39
assimilation: 44

I was just talking to my NT husband and saying that when I am relaxed I am a completely normal, reasonable person. It's when I get stressed that it all goes to hell, and most things sensory or social stresses me. I also have troubles expressing myself (talking). I found it helpful to read memoirs by Autistic women. I related to most (not all). I really like this list: https://the-art-of-autism.com/females-a ... checklist/ (some negative interpretations of characteristics, but mostly good)

I am extroverted so consider myself to be very social, but now that I inspect my interactions, I can see that they are contrived relative to NTs. I was a rabid reader of fiction in my youth. I also loved the book Ender Game! I made my NT husband read it. For me Drama, Communications courses ... and I learned from Ellen DeGeneres's segment about reciprocating greetings --- maybe NTs thought funny; I thought funny and USEFUL. You could try some online ASD support groups for women (e.g. AANE) to see if you fit or not. I wish you well managing your medical condition.



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20 Feb 2021, 6:23 pm

Quote:
Bill Gates is on the spectrum, he read as a child.


Has this been confirmed? Has he ever been evaluated and diagnosed by a professional? Or is this another "Albert Einstein/Mozart/Newton/Alan Turing/insert random public figure here was actually Autistic even though they have never been diagnosed!!"

Also, OP, keep in mind that someone can absolutely have spectrum traits and not fit full criteria-- which necessitates significant social, occupational, or academic impairment. Traits are distributed normally throughout the general population. For many Aspies, we just have an extreme version of normal personality traits, and happen to have a label attached to those traits, for better or worse.

You can choose whether or not to get a diagnosis. It might be useful to keep in mind that you have some traits if you and your husband want children, or if you eventually think you do need job accommodations (which you would need a professional dx for). Otherwise, my advice is don't sweat whether or not you are "Autistic". It's a highly vague, subjective label to begin with.


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20 Feb 2021, 7:19 pm

Whale_Tuune wrote:
Quote:
Bill Gates is on the spectrum, he read as a child.


Has this been confirmed?

No

Whale_Tuune wrote:
Has he ever been evaluated and diagnosed by a professional?

If he has, he has never revealed it publically.

He has more than the usual "he is socially awkward" traits. His tendency to rock has oft been cited.
Those that say he is not autistic point to his creating a humongous popular company. Microsoft was a team, Steve Ballmer did the lion's share of the marketing.

One can say one suspects so and so is autistic or as I do that I highly suspect Gates is on the spectrum but one should not make a blanket statement that Gates is on the spectrum.

If Gates was diagnosed that is personal medical information and we do not have the right to know about it.


Retrodiagnosing historical figures are more problematic than diagnosing current public figures. There are accounts of traits by people that knew them but times were different, attitudes different and the same words had different contexts/meanings.

I understand why people do this, after years of stigmas, struggles, and nonrecognition it is nice to find commonality with super successful people. The problem is you are not Bill Gates or Albert Einstein. It is enough to say people with Autistic traits have been successful.


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petraA
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29 Mar 2021, 3:41 pm

Update: I have met with my new therapist a few times now and she definitely thinks I'm autistic but we're not going through with a formal diagnosis right now partly for immigration reasons. My parents also had a lot of input of sensory and social issues I had as a kid but forgot about.

One thing I realized since my diagnosis is that big difference between me and NTs socially is that even though I can make friends I don't need them. Like, since the pandemic I've spoke with my best friends and members of my bridal party maybe 5 times in total. I care about them and think they're high quality people or I wouldn't consider them my friends but I've been tired and sick and so don't have the energy to keep up. But when talking to other NTs with my illness on ME and Behcets groups they're all really sad and upset about how little they get to see their friends. I understand why they would be that way but I just don't have that issue. Honestly given my physical inability to see friends right now I'm probably pretty lucky to be autistic cause it would probably suck to be lonely all the time. When I got sick it made my sensory s**t worse and I kinda saw my autism as a detriment that made being in pain and sick worse but I guess there is an upside I never considered.