Am I improving too much to be considered autistic?

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rats_and_cats
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12 Jun 2018, 9:12 pm

So I'm back from New Zealand and the trip went very well... maybe too well. My anxiety was at an all time low, including my social anxiety. It started out pretty high but as the trip went on I became more confident about talking to people and even talked to strangers on the bus. I still didn't make eye contact with anyone though. And I only had two or three major sensory overload issues. I navigated the bus system more or less by myself (working through a panic attack or two) and wasn't driven to a meltdown by living with so many other people for so long. I even booked tours by myself. I feel like I improved too much too fast, which makes me wonder if I even have autism at all. Maybe I just have anxiety which would explain the lack of eye contact and the awkwardness. When I asked my mom, she seemed offended that I consider autism to be a part of my personality. She's never denied the fact that I have autism but she doesn't like when I use it to describe myself.
Anyway, I'm worried that I've been lying to myself and everyone and that my perception of myself is completely wrong. If it is, where do I go from here?



kraftiekortie
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12 Jun 2018, 9:22 pm

You're improving----but you still have some autistic manifestations.

Many high-functioning autistic people can navigate transportation systems, and otherwise adapt to their environment. Autistic people don't always have meltdowns and shutdowns. They might only suffer from symptoms under some sort of stress.

Anyway.....once somebody is born autistic, they usually don't "lose" their autism. At the most, they become "subclinically autistic."



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12 Jun 2018, 9:43 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
Many high-functioning autistic people can navigate transportation systems, and otherwise adapt to their environment. Autistic people don't always have meltdowns and shutdowns. They might only suffer from symptoms under some sort of stress.


In college I figured out how to take busses (on my own) since the school banned freshmen from bringing their cars onto campus. I found it extremely unfair because that meant only NTs who were social, and could easily make friends with upper classmen, could get off of campus. Needless to say, my parents freaked out and got the school to let me bring my car.

I also lived in NYC for a time being and after a couple of weeks figured out how to use the subways. Oddly the subway noises never bothered me - it was always the people and how crowded it could become.

As per meltdowns or shutdowns - I've never had external ones, only internal ones which my behavioral therapist has told me is still considered a meltdown just not a severe one.

I can talk to people, but I hate doing so since it makes me feel uncomfortable. I find it hard to decipher what an NT's objective is, thus the uncertainty is anxiety provoking. I was even able to stay in a hostel (suggestion to all here - NEVER stay in a hostel) for a couple of days, it was the worst experience in my whole entire life (which I'll never do again) but I managed.

So, yeah - an aspie can easily do these things as well. I was diagnosed after I did these things (thus oddly thinking I could handle a hostel).



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12 Jun 2018, 9:50 pm

From the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for ASD:

"Symptoms...may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life"

So, if you've learned to deal with your ASD so it affects you less, that's great. But it doesn't mean you don't have ASD any more; it just means you've learned how to live with it.


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rats_and_cats
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12 Jun 2018, 9:52 pm

Spooky_Mulder wrote:
kraftiekortie wrote:
Many high-functioning autistic people can navigate transportation systems, and otherwise adapt to their environment. Autistic people don't always have meltdowns and shutdowns. They might only suffer from symptoms under some sort of stress.


In college I figured out how to take busses (on my own) since the school banned freshmen from bringing their cars onto campus. I found it extremely unfair because that meant only NTs who were social, and could easily make friends with upper classmen, could get off of campus. Needless to say, my parents freaked out and got the school to let me bring my car.

I also lived in NYC for a time being and after a couple of weeks figured out how to use the subways. Oddly the subway noises never bothered me - it was always the people and how crowded it could become.

As per meltdowns or shutdowns - I've never had external ones, only internal ones which my behavioral therapist has told me is still considered a meltdown just not a severe one.

I can talk to people, but I hate doing so since it makes me feel uncomfortable. I find it hard to decipher what an NT's objective is, thus the uncertainty is anxiety provoking. I was even able to stay in a hostel (suggestion to all here - NEVER stay in a hostel) for a couple of days, it was the worst experience in my whole entire life (which I'll never do again) but I managed.

So, yeah - an aspie can easily do these things as well. I was diagnosed after I did these things (thus oddly thinking I could handle a hostel).


I actually didn't find the hostels to be too bad. Not my preferred method of travel but if I'm able to book a room to myself or I'm going with someone I'm more familiar with it could be a good cheap option. I still prefer something like a campground though. Then again, I stayed in the kinds of hostels that have separate rooms with only two beds. Not the ones with like 10 bunk beds in one room.
The kitchens are awful though. Not the least because my food was stolen twice even though it was properly labelled.



Spooky_Mulder
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12 Jun 2018, 9:55 pm

rats_and_cats wrote:
Spooky_Mulder wrote:
kraftiekortie wrote:
Many high-functioning autistic people can navigate transportation systems, and otherwise adapt to their environment. Autistic people don't always have meltdowns and shutdowns. They might only suffer from symptoms under some sort of stress.


In college I figured out how to take busses (on my own) since the school banned freshmen from bringing their cars onto campus. I found it extremely unfair because that meant only NTs who were social, and could easily make friends with upper classmen, could get off of campus. Needless to say, my parents freaked out and got the school to let me bring my car.

I also lived in NYC for a time being and after a couple of weeks figured out how to use the subways. Oddly the subway noises never bothered me - it was always the people and how crowded it could become.

As per meltdowns or shutdowns - I've never had external ones, only internal ones which my behavioral therapist has told me is still considered a meltdown just not a severe one.

I can talk to people, but I hate doing so since it makes me feel uncomfortable. I find it hard to decipher what an NT's objective is, thus the uncertainty is anxiety provoking. I was even able to stay in a hostel (suggestion to all here - NEVER stay in a hostel) for a couple of days, it was the worst experience in my whole entire life (which I'll never do again) but I managed.

So, yeah - an aspie can easily do these things as well. I was diagnosed after I did these things (thus oddly thinking I could handle a hostel).


I actually didn't find the hostels to be too bad. Not my preferred method of travel but if I'm able to book a room to myself or I'm going with someone I'm more familiar with it could be a good cheap option. I still prefer something like a campground though. Then again, I stayed in the kinds of hostels that have separate rooms with only two beds. Not the ones with like 10 bunk beds in one room.
The kitchens are awful though. Not the least because my food was stolen twice even though it was properly labelled.


I staid in the one that had 10 bunk beds in one room. It felt like what I'd imagine military barracks might be like. I hardly got any sleep: surrounded by strangers, unsure if they might try to steal something during the night, had to wake up early for a convention, unsure how sanitary the rooms were and etc. This lasted for almost 2 weeks. I think this is difficult for NTs as well, just even more so as an aspie.



rats_and_cats
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13 Jun 2018, 12:58 am

Hmmm... after further thought I think it might have been my state of mind and the change in environment that made the trip go so well. I love nature and Polynesian culture has been a minor special interest of mine ever since I saw Moana, so I was eager to learn. And because of that, any potentially anxiety-inducing situation ended up being recontextualized as a learning experience rather than a potential danger (buses were still very anxiety-inducing, as were crowds, but the latter was not much of an issue). I was mostly focused on the fact that I was finally on a real adventure. In fact, the professors running the trip said that I was one of the most independent and adventurous people in the group. That state of mind is hard to keep up for long and by the end of the trip the stresses were starting to weigh on me. On the other hand, in my daily life I am not flying halfway around the world (yet... LOL).



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13 Jun 2018, 1:02 am

rats_and_cats wrote:
Hmmm... after further thought I think it might have been my state of mind and the change in environment that made the trip go so well. I love nature and Polynesian culture has been a minor special interest of mine ever since I saw Moana, so I was eager to learn. And because of that, any potentially anxiety-inducing situation ended up being recontextualized as a learning experience rather than a potential danger (buses were still very anxiety-inducing, as were crowds, but the latter was not much of an issue). I was mostly focused on the fact that I was finally on a real adventure. In fact, the professors running the trip said that I was one of the most independent and adventurous people in the group. That state of mind is hard to keep up for long and by the end of the trip the stresses were starting to weigh on me. On the other hand, in my daily life I am not flying halfway around the world (yet... LOL).


I agree. If stress causes one to feel “more autistic” why would not being happy cause one to feel “less autistic”?


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13 Jun 2018, 7:07 am

This thread is interesting. I reminds me of the time I took a cruise in 2012 and 2013. The first time especially, I was floored by how easy it was to navigate the social scene. Everybody was very warm and welcoming; I made friends within a day of being on the ship, and approached women without difficulty. (By "friends", I mean people I hung out with throughout the cruise.) Mind you, the ship was constantly crowded, except late at night, and sometimes noisy. There were long lines in food venues and in the theater. In the mornings, I often heard loud noises in my cabin, presumably from the ship lowering its anchor in port. And yet, I was happy as a clam, and felt right at home in the social scene that even some NTs dislike.

I think what helped me in part was the ship's movement; it provided a continuous calming stimulation that let me plow through any and all situations I encountered. In fact, I remember reading this in cruise reviews: one mother wrote that her aspie son was very calm and relaxed on his cruise too. She wrote that he practiced foreign languages with crew members, navigated long lines easily, and even invited people for a pick-up game of basketball, albeit unsuccessfully. (It was a different ship than mine; mine didn't have a basketball court.)



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13 Jun 2018, 8:16 am

Aspie1 wrote:
This thread is interesting. I reminds me of the time I took a cruise in 2012 and 2013. The first time especially, I was floored by how easy it was to navigate the social scene. Everybody was very warm and welcoming; I made friends within a day of being on the ship, and approached women without difficulty. (By "friends", I mean people I hung out with throughout the cruise.) Mind you, the ship was constantly crowded, except late at night, and sometimes noisy. There were long lines in food venues and in the theater. In the mornings, I often heard loud noises in my cabin, presumably from the ship lowering its anchor in port. And yet, I was happy as a clam, and felt right at home in the social scene that even some NTs dislike.

I think what helped me in part was the ship's movement; it provided a continuous calming stimulation that let me plow through any and all situations I encountered. In fact, I remember reading this in cruise reviews: one mother wrote that her aspie son was very calm and relaxed on his cruise too. She wrote that he practiced foreign languages with crew members, navigated long lines easily, and even invited people for a pick-up game of basketball, albeit unsuccessfully. (It was a different ship than mine; mine didn't have a basketball court.)


This interests me too. Swimming is ideal for my aspie daughter. It really satisfies most of her sensory needs. During holidays where she spends 5-6 hrs in the pool swimming and surrounded by water her outward signs of autism really diminish.

In her, and in me (if this is what is in me :D ) it is fairly dynamic. Exhaustion, stress, bad diet and lack of sleep really accentuates traits whilst having plenty of down time, eating well, re-charging after social encounters, getting good sleep and having sensory needs met really diminishes traits.

Sensory needs is a big one. Since she got her wobble cushion and restive clay at school I have no longer seen any after school meltdowns.


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13 Jun 2018, 9:13 am

I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed your trip and got a lot out of it, rats_and_cats! That's wonderful!

Don't draw big conclusions about your diagnostic status based on a short segment of life. It is something that has to be looked at over time. Maybe what has really happened here is that you discovered some new strengths and interests. And that's a good thing!


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16 Jun 2018, 11:29 am

elsapelsa wrote:
This interests me too. Swimming is ideal for my aspie daughter. It really satisfies most of her sensory needs. During holidays where she spends 5-6 hrs in the pool swimming and surrounded by water her outward signs of autism really diminish.

In her, and in me (if this is what is in me :D ) it is fairly dynamic. Exhaustion, stress, bad diet and lack of sleep really accentuates traits whilst having plenty of down time, eating well, re-charging after social encounters, getting good sleep and having sensory needs met really diminishes traits.

Sensory needs is a big one. Since she got her wobble cushion and restive clay at school I have no longer seen any after school meltdowns.

My cruise experience was a mishmash of "good" and "bad" factors. On one hand, I was thousands of miles away from my stressful job, had unlimited good food, made friends easily, and enjoyed the soothing movement of the ship. It was like a giant wobble cushion; every night, it rocked me to sleep like a baby in a cradle. Not to mention, women flirted with me like it was no big deal, since most cruises have more single women than single men. On the other hand, I slept only 5 hours a night, always got sweaty and messy in the hot sun, often got dehydrated from not being able to drink the water in foreign ports (I made do with beer, since I didn't trust local bottled water), and had to fend off pushy tourist vendors. After getting home, I spent days catching up on sleep, lancing blisters on my feet, and washing my dirty clothes.



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18 Jun 2018, 7:03 am

Aspie1 wrote:
elsapelsa wrote:
This interests me too. Swimming is ideal for my aspie daughter. It really satisfies most of her sensory needs. During holidays where she spends 5-6 hrs in the pool swimming and surrounded by water her outward signs of autism really diminish.

In her, and in me (if this is what is in me :D ) it is fairly dynamic. Exhaustion, stress, bad diet and lack of sleep really accentuates traits whilst having plenty of down time, eating well, re-charging after social encounters, getting good sleep and having sensory needs met really diminishes traits.

Sensory needs is a big one. Since she got her wobble cushion and restive clay at school I have no longer seen any after school meltdowns.

My cruise experience was a mishmash of "good" and "bad" factors. On one hand, I was thousands of miles away from my stressful job, had unlimited good food, made friends easily, and enjoyed the soothing movement of the ship. It was like a giant wobble cushion; every night, it rocked me to sleep like a baby in a cradle. Not to mention, women flirted with me like it was no big deal, since most cruises have more single women than single men. On the other hand, I slept only 5 hours a night, always got sweaty and messy in the hot sun, often got dehydrated from not being able to drink the water in foreign ports (I made do with beer, since I didn't trust local bottled water), and had to fend off pushy tourist vendors. After getting home, I spent days catching up on sleep, lancing blisters on my feet, and washing my dirty clothes.


It sounds like a really good experience. I've never been on a cruise but I used to take the passenger ship between England and Sweden. It took about 36 hrs or something like that. As I always got the cheapest ticket my bunk would be down by the engine rooms which unsettled me somewhat. It was noisy and I felt claustrophobic. Also, everyone would get drunk and vomit or start getting it on and as I was only 14-17 when I would catch the ferry I found it all a bit overbearing. I would find a space under the stairs and curl up with my walkman and cassettes and a book.

The thing is now you know the cruise experience works for you, you have a good escape route if you need a break for a while. For me, my escape is being barefoot on the beach. There is nothing that feels quite as soothing, calming and restorative as being by the ocean (but grounded) with feet in hot sand.

.... in fact, shoes are fairly detrimental to me in general. They make me feel less grounded.


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