Can see autism in people walking down the street?

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orbweaver
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22 Jun 2022, 2:16 pm

I've been thinking about this a bit and it makes me think on "what are my own autistic tells." I think a lot, additionally, on why I was taken for intellectually challenged when I was younger. What were people looking for? What made a person look intellectually challenged?

I am an extremely "socially normal" passing autist, in terms of social skills etc (outgrew lots of stuff, found "my people" early, a lot of my friends end up being autistic/other ND or have some kind of physical disability, I've had friends and lovers, have had *somewhat* better work experience than some autists - it's more of a problem with physical jobs, etc), but people still spot something "off" about me frequently especially from photos.

Some of us have unconscious physical mannerisms, sometimes ones associated with other brain-based disabilities.

People know something is up with me frequently because of the way I stand or hold my hands, or the fact that some part of me is constantly in motion, or that I frequently have unconscious mannerisms (such as jerky physical movements and or holding one hand up in a Maneki Neko posture - it's like t-rex hands but with one hand; it's like I forget to move parts of my body when transitioning postures) that I have to make great conscious effort to not do or find something to compensate for (such as grabbing my purse strap or holding an object such as a commuter mug in the hand that tends to be left in the air). You spot it in an instant, in fact, in any photo taken of me that I'm not deliberately and specifically posing for.

The right side of my face also doesn't necessarily move in sync with the left side of my face. The freezing-on-transition is usually on my dominant side, not my non-dominant.

It's very subtle, but it's something that people notice after a while.

It's something that someone who's been unconsciously tuned to "spot weird," will spot in a moment.

Especially if they had negative experiences with (usually male) Aspies in the past and are unconsciously pattern-matching my behavior to that. I suspect this is going on with lots of people out in the world, they pattern-match or thin-slice their judgments to people they've found upsetting or threatening in the past, so you have to overcome not just stereotypes but all of other people's bad experiences.

Also, I'm extremely clumsy/uncoordinated and very frequently do clumsy and uncoordinated things in public. I'm actually more clumsy than my partner, who has mild CP.

I've noticed great commonality in experience and some of our learning differences and processing differences with my allistic partner (the one with the CP). When I first knew my partner (we met about 20 years ago), people often took him for "weird" because of his expressions and physical behaviors, many of which have lessened over time, but also people find him infectiously likeable and that really helps for him, too. He asked me once if I thought I had mild CP. I think that this would've come up earlier on in my life if I had.

I think there is an "uncanny valley" thing that can happen with some people who have a mild brain based physical difference but don't actually display it strongly enough to be recognizable as having a disability (not as if people who actually "look disabled" are treated in the greatest way). My partner's differences were relatively slight and people would say, in the past, "idk what it is about him but he's just weird."

I learned to make this conscious effort to hide some of these "tells" because of a brief stint of modeling school, there is a physical component to masking for me as well where I am paying attention to what my body is doing the whole time (additionally, sometimes I struggle to not do inappropriate things with my hands, because of forgetting I'm around other people, because some of my unconscious hand postures might look like rude gestures, etc), and there is some improvement whenever I'm consciously exercising/etc to "feel more in my body."

I have told people that the only thing that probably comes close to an experience that a neurotypical or non-disabled person is going to experience, is if they are drunk or high and trying to pass for sober. Someone for whom masking is *just* being socially normal, either has no idea what they're actually masking (I didn't, during my worst masking period, and didn't know that I actually had physical autism tells until they were pointed out to me by normies - something my nerdy autistic friends NEVER pointed out), or their autism does not have unconscious physical "tells."

Yes, I manage to suppress this a majority of the time in public, but it takes focus, and if it were any more than it is, I wouldn't be able to. And then it becomes an issue of, I can either focus on what my hands/body are doing, or what my face is doing.

I wonder how much is related to midline and if there are commonalities with CP, based upon my partner's experience and mine having certain parallels. I should make a post on this and raise the question.


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klanka
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23 Jun 2022, 5:03 pm

I want to see the half T-Rex :lol:

When one defaults to these behaviours in the street they do tend to come out. I ball my hands into fists when stressed out etc.



Mountain Goat
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23 Jun 2022, 5:31 pm

klanka wrote:
I could tell a man had autism just by looking at him. He had a tight posture instead of relaxed and he was tapping his palm with his fingers as he walked, so he was stimming. It was really obvious. I looked at a NT person, just to compare their hands were normal and relaxed and their body language was relaxed.
Does anyone else notice this?

Also, some people you see obviously have a big 'inner world' or 'inner dialogue' or you might call it 'overactive' or 'very active mind' as you can see people talking to themselves or acting in a bizarre way but its probably making sense to their own selves.

And when talking to someone who has it, its even more obvious.


Yes. I have seen it.



orbweaver
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23 Jun 2022, 6:12 pm

klanka wrote:
I want to see the half T-Rex :lol:

When one defaults to these behaviours in the street they do tend to come out. I ball my hands into fists when stressed out etc.


I call it the Maneki Neko hand. It's like I just forget to put my hand down and it just stays there like the paw of a "lucky cat" statue until I catch myself doing it. It's not a desired position to leave my hand in, it's like some kind of weird unconscious glitch and I'm often not aware of doing it. It's in a lot of snapshots of me.


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IsabellaLinton
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23 Jun 2022, 6:43 pm

I do tight fists and T-Rex hands, and I have to carry something in my hands everywhere I go - even if I'm alone in the house. I feel weird just hanging my hands at my sides so I pick up something / anything and carry it in order to do T-Rex.

I can move from one room of my house to another with no one home but I'll have to pick up a pencil or a cup or .... anything before I can move. This results in me having stuff scattered all over the house because I also have ADHD and can't remember which useless thing I carried or where I left it.

The tight fists and T-Rex are apparent in photos of me my entire life, from less than a year old.

Can I see it in others:
Sure I can, or at least I can suspect it. I don't talk to enough people to actually verify my thoughts.

Visual Signs:
Bad eye contact
T-Rex
Gait and posture issues
Stimming

If I were to talk to people I'd pick up on non-visual cues like perseveration, face blindness, sensory disorders, etc.



Elgee
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26 Jun 2022, 10:12 am

People can tell there's "something" about me, but not autism, unless they know a lot more about autism than the stereotypes.

I come across as a quirky, odd, strange or weird NT, rather than, "Hmmm, that woman is autistic." That's because when around people, I don't rock or do other odd stimming. I do small discreet stims with my fingers and hands (e.g., repetitive pressing of a finger into a palm, or repetitive rubbing of a thumbnail across the tip of another nail, or toe curling, calf tensing, teeth clicking).

I may come across as too matter-of-fact, too serious, too analytical, too direct, lacking a filter. These traits, to the average NT, are not associated with autism. I don't have tell-tale posture or gait, either. I give strong eye contact except when I'm doing a lot of talking, and this can make me come across as assertive or too forward or dominant.

In short, I pass as non-autistic, but I don't pass as normal NT.

Recently I just went a little bonkers over a cashier's badass ponytail. This special interest totally excites me. As I approached in the lane my first words to her were, "Turn around; let me see your ponytail." I'm sure she saw a weird excitement in my eyes. After she rung the sale I again mentioned her ponytail and even asked her ethnicity (she appeared part East Indian, part Hispanic, or some other exotic combo, but she said she was Mexican, though I thought she was pretty dark to be ONLY Mexican).

So surely, she thought I was an oddball, but I doubt "That woman was autistic!" came to her mind.

I can spot classic or stereotypical autistic traits in people walking down the street or even walking on a treadmill. I saw a frightfully thin (anorexia?) woman on a treadmill with odd strange arm/hand movements. Years ago I'd see this man, all the time, walking the track at the gym, just lots of laps, but he couldn't keep his hand off the rail that overlooked the gym floor below. He'd tap his hand along the rail as he glided it along. Then he'd walk kind of normally through sections without the rail, then put that hand back on the rail. I always wondered why he did this and thought, "Doesn't he realize this makes him look weird?" I thought he was schizophrenic, because overall, something about him was odd.

That was years ago! I now know he was autistic and stimming!