Strong reasons to think I might be on the spectrum

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Undertheradar
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01 Sep 2023, 4:37 pm

Hi, My name is Eric. I am 39. I am male.

For a long time I have had suspicion that I may be on the spectrum somehow. I found relationships to be extremely complicated. Later in life I found that as long as I knew what to expect in a situation, such as the layout of a room or building, who might be there, what we might be discussing and what types of situations might come up, I wouldn't say that I felt comfortable in those situations, but I felt that I could function.

This time went by, I started to pride myself in my ability to read people, I would study them... This allowed me to interact with them in a more predictable manner.

But you can ask my wife, when we were dating she said that we would go to a small get together with some of her friends. She mentioned that some of the people I would know from our church. Forever, when I got there there was actually very few people that I knew, and she went off to go talk with some of her friends. I just sat by the fireplace and looked around trying to read the room... My wife said that some of her friends asked why her boyfriend was sitting alone so awkwardly...

I was always a very intelligent student when I was younger... Oftentimes in gifted classes.

However, I barely graduated high school

When I was younger I was told that I hit a lot of milestones relatively early... But I remember when I was younger wanting to go back to being like my younger siblings (I was the oldest). Even to the point of just wanting to do what they were doing.

It's also interesting to know that there were many things that I did that were not appropriate for my age, that would have been appropriate if I were much younger... But I managed to keep many of these things secret even as a child because I knew that it would cause me to be ridiculed

I remember at one point I had extreme problems with sounds and touch sensations... There are still some things that do that to me but I know it was especially bad in my childhood through early adulthood

There were several times that I remember sounds and lights being too much to bear and just having to go to my room and shut off every thing that could possibly make noise which as I got older also included the breaker box... Even if it was really hot I wanted to get away from the noise of the air conditioner and the noise of people and block out as much light as I could... But then that also required laying underneath the blanket and the sensation of the blanket was overpowering at that time...

I later found out that different fabrics would bother me less or even not at all... And that heavier blankets actually felt good...

The issues with loud sounds are not as bad as they once were... But I can say my children are quite loud they are 11 and 14 years of age. I found as they start arguing and slamming doors shut and stomping around that I can only describe it as almost like a shell shock... Oftentimes I just have to go outside to my work shed and hide in there to get away from all the extra sound, or maybe just go to my room and hide until I can regain some mental energy

I was never diagnosed with anything like that, when I was younger my mom had me diagnosed with ADHD

I find that I will oftentimes become hyper focused on things almost to a point of compulsion... And oftentimes it doesn't matter what it is if it's something that is in my life I'll study it till I probably know more about it than even the doctors

Case in point... My wife and I are building a new house... When we bought our property we intended to live on it in our RV... But We did not know if we wanted to build a house on our lake property yet so rather than paying $12,000 for an electrical pole I decided to study up on how to build a solar power system capable of running our entire property... Turns out my house is also going to be ran completely off solar now... It also turns out that there are several houses in this lake community that now have solar setups that I have designed and installed

I find that I talk the way that I think people need me to talk but also find that it's exhausting...

There's a lot more to it than this, they don't want to be too long-winded.

When I originally started looking at the possibility of maybe being on the spectrum, a good friend of mine who is an amazing musician, who also happens to be on the spectrum, told me that he wouldn't be surprised if I was on the spectrum... He said just from him paying attention to me it would seem that way

I told my friend that I didn't think that was the case, but I wasn't sure I'd be happy to look into it.

As I initially started looking into it I remember looking at symptoms and online self-diagnosis tests and thinking to myself I don't really suffer from those symptoms, because I've learned better behaviors

But then today I had a little time and I came across something called "masking"

As I read up on what masking was I realized the vast majority of these better behaviors that I thought I had are more likely symptoms of masking

For instance, I said that I study people, it seems that that is one of those symptoms... I also felt that I would speak and perform the way that people wanted me to... Just to name a few that came to my mind

Additionally my wife and I both find it very interesting that I tend to be able to notice some of the smallest details, oftentimes at a extremely fast pace, while missing out on things that are very obvious...

I've also noticed, that I oftentimes will process things such as conversations but not necessarily be able to keep up with the conversation... While simultaneously being able to process multiple other things that are happening in a room or building... But again not necessarily in real time...

Part of me thinks that it would make sense to get diagnosed... I think it would finally give me some answers as to why I am the way I am and what makes me tick

However I fear of this for many reasons. Most importantly, I worry that I will not continue to push forward and will not continue to grow and may decide that since I have a diagnosis that I can regress back to less acceptable behaviors.

I fear how it may cause others to interact with me.

I also fear that, with the way our society is going, that having a diagnosis may affect some of my rights.

I wonder how that will affect my relationship with my wife? I mean I'd still be the same person and she'd still be the same person... But would it cause us both to interact differently?

I know I've joked with her before that I wouldn't be surprised if I was on the spectrum... And she actually has degrees in and about that field... And worked with troubled teens for over 10 years... And she agrees She wouldn't be particularly surprised if I was.

I know when I was much younger I just assumed this is how everything was for everybody... But as I got older and start to understand more about people I started to realize that this was not typical

I guess I would say probably one of the strangest things is that my wife says she knows that I am not without emotion... But she says that she would describe me as fairly cold from an emotional standpoint... Oftentimes not interacting with people emotionally, aside from maybe humor or anger... Those of course tend to be near polar opposites... An interestingly enough very heightened emotions that most people can relate to on a more base instinct level

All I know is when I started reading about masking it was like everything just clicked... As I started reading about this I said Oh my God... That's... That's me I do that... In fact I build nearly my entire persona around that I've explained to my wife and only a handful of other people, that I am an extreme introvert, who is spent time studying people and studying how to appear as an extrovert

One of these people that I've explained this to is a good friend of mine, he suffers from anxiety and likely depression, and when I told him that I was actually an introvert who had practiced functioning as an extrovert because I knew that it was necessary to advance in society, he was blown away... He said that That was impossible, I told him if he didn't believe it he should bring me somewhere with lots of people without telling me about it so that I don't have time to prepare for the situation... Better yet make sure it's people that I don't know.

I don't know for sure

Is there a way that I can get a diagnosis without records being kept of it? I don't want random government officials to be able to see this...



autisticelders
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01 Sep 2023, 4:53 pm

sounds right to me, very familiar in many ways. take your time and gather as much information as you need. No rush. If and when its right, you will know it. If you do decide to try to find professional diagnosis, look for somebody who has worked with autistic adults and already has diagnosed many individuals. (its OK to ask before making an appointment). If you decide not to "go for it" that's fine too, many individuals are satisfied to make adjustments to their lives and do self accommodations on their own (mostly this is what we all do, diagnosed or not). learning about autism and deciding I was/am autistic gave me lots of good self understanding that I had lacked. Looking at the past from the perspective of autism, suddenly so much made sense. Hope you find what you need!


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02 Sep 2023, 12:36 pm

Welcome to WP! I hope you find it useful...but you probably already know we cannot diagnose you.

However, much of what you describe sounds consistent with Autism to me. Unfortunately there are other diagnoses that share some traits with Autism (ADHD is one...here is one high-level comparison of the two), and it is also possible to have Autistic traits but not enough so to qualify for an Autism diagnosis. It is complicated.

You said you found some online quizzes, I hope they included:
<=>- Autism-Spectrum Quotient Test (AQ)
<=>- Aspie Quiz
I am not sure whether masking would affect the scores, perhaps someone else can offer insight on that. Personally, I would think that honestly answering the questions would work...assuming you indicate your personal preference as opposed to what you would force yourself to do around others to act "normal".

I was 64 when the world hinted to me to find out more about Autism; I did so and my wife and I both thought it sounded like me; my score on AQ convinced me to get a formal Adult Autism Assessment; and while I was still 64 I got my diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 1 (Mild).
Like many others on WP who got a later-in-life diagnosis I was delighted! Even though the diagnosis had very little practical value to me (I'd been happily retired since I was 56) the self-knowledge that came with the diagnosis explained so much of what I had experienced over the decades.

And I can understand your hesitation to get a diagnosis because of possible impacts.
 I worry that I "will not continue to push forward and will not continue to grow and may decide that since I have a diagnosis that I can regress back to less acceptable behaviors". That would be on you, dude. We're famous for "hyperfocus". Go online and search for lists of famous people suspected to have been Autistic. (Warning: That search depressed the heck out of me. I felt like an incredible underachiever. It took awhile for me to realize that almost everyone, Autistic or not, looks like an underachiever when compared to that crowd!)
 "I fear how it may cause others to interact with me"...when in doubt and not required by law, don't tell them! (If you do tell them, however, I think you'll get a surprising number of people who immediately wonder if they are also on the Autism Spectrum.)
 Possible legal implications? I dunno. Maybe others here can point out where it might be a problem. It doesn't sound like you need the diagnosis to get special accommodations, though the knowledge might be useful when dealing with medical practitioners. (I emphasize "might". So far almost all of my medical practitioners have been completely disinterested.) If you were younger I would warn that the diagnosis could prevent you from getting into the military—that could be a real shame, being in the military was one of the best things I ever did!

Good luck! And welcome to WP!
And remember that a polite interest in any kind of neurodiversity is a perfectly good reason to be on WP.


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Undertheradar
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03 Sep 2023, 8:46 am

I've also been reading about this thing called stimming... And I realize that this is something I've been doing for years... I've Read that my nail biting could fall in that category... I find that despite the fact that biting my nails down to the point where I'm bleeding sometimes and it's quite painful is actually incredibly relaxing in an odd way



I've read that even my constant throat clearing could fall in that category



Other things that fall in that category or things like my knuckle cracking, and my skin picking and constant scratching and itching oftentimes even itching to the point causing severe irritation



I've also read that even my hypersexuality issues that I had could actually be a symptom of ASD... It was interesting because I knew that the act of sexuality was extremely important, and was necessary for acceptance and just kind of expected of people... I wasn't especially interested in it at first... But as you can imagine it was quite pleasurable... And I kept trying to find ways to make myself perform better as again, that was something to be desired... So I worked on becoming very good at it...



Perhaps I've said too much







I don't know I guess if I had to explain it I probably found myself to be much like data from Star Trek... I'll go from time to time I found myself experiencing life almost in the same way that Data did during his encounter with the Borg



I should also mention that I've had many different suggested diagnosis over the years



There was ADHD, one therapist suggested oppositional defiance disorder, and yet another one suggested possibly bipolar... But absolutely none of those made any sense



I hadn't even considered the possibility of ASD as my only encounter with that had been through television and movies, as well as a young girl that had severe intellectual issues and was nonverbal... So I didn't see how that could possibly be an option



, But like I say my wife and I have joked about it for years now... And I've only recently started to look at it as a possibility



All the other options that had been presented never made any sense whatsoever... It's obvious that medical and therapies/psychiatric professionals can get things completely wrong as they all came up with different possibilities



The only one that was ever considered to be a real diagnosis was the ADHD... The other two things were just suggested when I was much younger



I also knew that all of these potential diagnosis have a massive overlap and symptoms. I also know that because of the overlap and symptoms, all of these potential diagnoses can be mistaken for the other, or could exist alongside each other in the same person





So now, as is my custom I will probably be dwelling on this and focusing on it for a long per iod probably for several weeks or even month



what I can say is the more I read and listen to into a out ASD, the more it makes sense and the more it seems to explain everything



Undertheradar
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03 Sep 2023, 8:47 am

Additionally my wife and I have discussed my need for tighter clothing without tags, typically long pants and long sleeves.



In addition, I experience bedwetting during particularly stressful times in life... My wife mentioned that this was pretty common in the troubled teens that she worked with, she thinks it may be connected



As you might imagine, I will wear diapers to bed when the bedwetting starts, but it's interesting to note that I find the diapers to be comforting and calming... my wife suggested this is the tightness around my skin... I can't completely explain why, only that they do...



Undertheradar
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03 Sep 2023, 8:48 am

My wife is also mentioned that she noticed that my senses are a little out of whack... For instance I may be perfectly comfortable touching things that are incredibly hot, and it may not bother me at all, while that same thing would cause great discomfort for most people



But I'll be bothered by the sound of a phone's charger... Because it's extremely loud and high-pitched... Yet when I mention it to my wife she actually doesn't even notice the noise at all, oftentimes she doesn't even hear it once I've unplugged it and plugged it back in to show her the difference



I guess it's just interesting the more articles I read and podcasts I listen to, the more I see little things here and there that I do that only makes sense in this particular category



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03 Sep 2023, 12:32 pm

The high pitch from the charger are more so from cheap ones i am guessing

Some example from my life if it helps to adds any puzzle pieces in for sensory issues

For sound with me it was old school tube tvs when the flyback transformer would get out of spec a high pitch noise would emit from it. I can hear the sound from the ultra sonic pest things to prevent bugs. Also when before i would go to comic con i had to have my headphones or else my brain will try to process every sound and everyone talking all at once and normally the brain will filter the junk information out but for me it does not so headphones will bring it to one sound wave. The best description for that is think of a smart phone when you don't talk on the mic for a few seconds it will boost the mic gain.

For Sight some color mixes in clothes were overwhelming when i was a kid I didn't know. For me fluorescent lighting didn't bug me much unless there was something wrong with the ballast. For old CRT computer displays if they were going 60Hz refresh rates I could see the monitor redraw but Macs there monitors are at a odd refresh rate that was not an issues.

For smell there are some smells are overwhelming like perfumes that girls put on, but I enjoy like smelling scented candles when I was a kid I liked to go down the candle isle in the store to smell the candles.

For taste it even controls who I buy my milk from because I can taste the differences in the milk because how the milk was processed and the feed the farmers gave the cows. When it comes to adult drinks the mix as to be right or all I can taste is the alcohol and not the drink.

For touch texture of the clothes are a thing like I don't mind hang drying my shirts and pants but with it comes to socks and underwear has to be dried in a machine to keep it soft. I am even particular with it comes to shoes in my case it has be DC skate shoes but there is a also something with me i wear size 13s. Even down to wristwatch band I can't stand the rubber bands so I have a canvas based cloth. I also like weight on me I used for sometime my old gaming laptop that is 9.5 pounds I would put a pillow on my stomach and chest followed by the laptop, but now i have a weighted blanket

The sensory issues i believe are part of Sensory Processing Disorder

Socially I am 37 but act like a teenager. When I am socializing a lot I get tired like, before I moved last year I would go to church I love going to church but when I get home I need a nap for like 2 hours.

My common stims are Leg bouncing and rock in my computer chair, when I listen to music I will finger stim. I am a big time fidgetier before the fidget toys I would use the a old circuit breaker, old pc fans by spinning the fan or if the fan is big enough I would hold on the center with the fan blades and spin the frame, even down to momentary switches.

I was living with a roommate until last year for over 15years and I masked a lot to try to be socially normal as much as I could. In the past month I am finally starting to unmask my traits.

The thing that is common for people on the spectrum is the mental age is different then mental age.


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Undertheradar
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03 Sep 2023, 12:39 pm

markitzero wrote:
The high pitch from the charger are more so from cheap ones i am guessing

Some example from my life if it helps to adds any puzzle pieces in for sensory issues

For sound with me it was old school tube tvs when the flyback transformer would get out of spec a high pitch noise would emit from it. I can hear the sound from the ultra sonic pest things to prevent bugs. Also when before i would go to comic con i had to have my headphones or else my brain will try to process every sound and everyone talking all at once and normally the brain will filter the junk information out but for me it does not so headphones will bring it to one sound wave. The best description for that is think of a smart phone when you don't talk on the mic for a few seconds it will boost the mic gain.

For Sight some color mixes in clothes were overwhelming when i was a kid I didn't know. For me fluorescent lighting didn't bug me much unless there was something wrong with the ballast. For old CRT computer displays if they were going 60Hz refresh rates I could see the monitor redraw but Macs there monitors are at a odd refresh rate that was not an issues.

For smell there are some smells are overwhelming like perfumes that girls put on, but I enjoy like smelling scented candles when I was a kid I liked to go down the candle isle in the store to smell the candles.

For taste it even controls who I buy my milk from because I can taste the differences in the milk because how the milk was processed and the feed the farmers gave the cows. When it comes to adult drinks the mix as to be right or all I can taste is the alcohol and not the drink.

For touch texture of the clothes are a thing like I don't mind hang drying my shirts and pants but with it comes to socks and underwear has to be dried in a machine to keep it soft. I am even particular with it comes to shoes in my case it has be DC skate shoes but there is a also something with me i wear size 13s. Even down to wristwatch band I can't stand the rubber bands so I have a canvas based cloth. I also like weight on me I used for sometime my old gaming laptop that is 9.5 pounds I would put a pillow on my stomach and chest followed by the laptop, but now i have a weighted blanket

The sensory issues i believe are part of Sensory Processing Disorder

Socially I am 37 but act like a teenager. When I am socializing a lot I get tired like, before I moved last year I would go to church I love going to church but when I get home I need a nap for like 2 hours.

My common stims are Leg bouncing and rock in my computer chair, when I listen to music I will finger stim. I am a big time fidgetier before the fidget toys I would use the a old circuit breaker, old pc fans by spinning the fan or if the fan is big enough I would hold on the center with the fan blades and spin the frame, even down to momentary switches.

I was living with a roommate until last year for over 15years and I masked a lot to try to be socially normal as much as I could. In the past month I am finally starting to unmask my traits.

The thing that is common for people on the spectrum is the mental age is different then mental age.



A lot of this resonates with me... Thank you for sharing



Last edited by Undertheradar on 03 Sep 2023, 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

markitzero
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03 Sep 2023, 12:45 pm

Keep in mind Autism is a spectrum so it is different for everyone. As you see in my signature I was diagnosed in high school.


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Undertheradar
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03 Sep 2023, 1:12 pm

markitzero wrote:
Keep in mind Autism is a spectrum so it is different for everyone. As you see in my signature I was diagnosed in high school.


No I understand that... I just keep finding new things that are very similar or the same as what a lot of people have listed... There are other experiences that people have describe that are completely foreign to me