Have you ever felt different from others? Not just unconventional, but really different? If you’ve clicked on this article, you’ve probably wondered if you might be on the autism spectrum. Although every autistic person has a different experience, there are some traits that are commonly shared. Here are ten signs that you might be on the autism spectrum.
This is a disclaimer that this video is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose any condition. Please reach out to a qualified professional if you want to explore the possibility of an autism diagnosis.
1) You can’t tell what others are feeling emotionally
Have you ever been accused of having no empathy? If you’re autistic, you’ve probably heard this comment some time in your life, and found it strange. You really do care what others are feeling! Problem is, they don’t actually tell you their emotional state. They just signal it with subtle facial expressions that seem like unreadable contortions to you. If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to solve this complicated visual puzzle just to know what someone is feeling, you might be on the autism spectrum.
2) You find it difficult to function in a group
Do you consider yourself a “team player”? If you’re autistic, you may have had difficulties functioning in a group. How can you function when there’s no clear procedure for what to do and say to everyone? How can you cooperate with others when they’re always getting in your way? How can you keep track of multiple conversations at once? How can you follow the rules of a game or activity that are not written? Why is everyone acting like you are the obstacle? If these questions overwhelm you when trying to function in a group, you might be on the autism spectrum.
3) You have no real friends
Do you find it difficult to make friends? If you’re autistic, it might seem impossibly mysterious. You might have been frustrated that the friend-making procedure is not documented anywhere. You might have spent endless hours agonizing over the mystery of how others make friends so easily. You might have tried to observe and imitate how others make friends, with poor results. In any case, if you don’t have any real friends despite your sincerest efforts, you might be on the autism spectrum.
4) You have your own unique way of speaking
Have you ever been nicknamed a “professor” or a “robot”? If you’re autistic, others have probably noticed that you have your own unique way of speaking. You might speak in a formal way that sounds pedantic or old-fashioned to others. Your vocabulary might be overly sophisticated for the situation. Your tone of voice might sound flat and monotonous. You might have invented your own words or phrases when you found language too limiting to express yourself. These traits are more noticeable and surprising in children as it makes them sound like adults or experts. If you remember anyone saying that you spoke beyond your years when you were a child, you might be on the autism spectrum.
5) You can’t tell when it’s your turn to speak
Have you ever interrupted someone without meaning to? If you’re autistic, you might find it difficult to tell when it’s your turn to speak. In theory, a conversation is a simple procedure. You wait for the other person to stop speaking, then you speak until you’re finished. But in practice, things are messier. Sometimes other people pause when they’re not finished yet. Sometimes they ask rhetorical questions that they don’t expect to be answered. Sometimes they get tired of you speaking and want you to finish your turn, but they don’t say it. It’s even worse in a group conversation when there are so many people trying to take turns. If you find that you speak over others a lot when having a conversation, then you might be on the autism spectrum.
6) You don’t know what to talk about when having a conversation
Does casual chit-chat feel exhausting and confusing? If you’re autistic, conversations don’t come naturally. You might be completely at a loss for what to say. When you do speak, others might find your remarks rude, naive, or embarrassing. They might feel that you are always talking about a topic that only you find interesting. They might complain that you discuss unfamiliar people, places, events, or topics without explaining what they are. Even worse, when you try to imitate those who are more successful at small talk, you discover that what worked for one conversation is inappropriate for a different conversation. If you find that you have more conversational failures than successes, you might be on the autism spectrum.
7) You are bothered by sounds which others don’t notice
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by noises that others feel are normal? If you’re autistic, sensory overload is a common problem. You might have an extreme aversion to loud and crowded places like shopping malls, stadiums and concerts. But even in common settings, you might be uncomfortable with everyday noises like ceiling fans, fluorescent lights, faucets and fridges. You might wonder how other people get along without being continually distracted and annoyed by these sounds. If you feel like the world is always too noisy, then you might be on the autism spectrum.
8) You are good at noticing and memorizing details
Have teachers ever praised your eye for detail? If you’re autistic, you’re more inclined to focus on the details rather than the overall idea. You might be good at noticing specific pieces of information that others don’t perceive, like catalog numbers, dates or car license plates. Your memory might also be very suited for recalling large lists of facts. However, this can come at the expense of deeper understanding. If you have a good perception and memory for details but others say you miss the bigger picture, you might be on the autism spectrum.
9) You understand language literally
Do you ever wish that people would just say what they mean, and mean what they say? If you’re autistic, much of human speech sounds like nonsense. Jokes, sarcasm, metaphors and figures of speech are all different ways of saying deliberate nonsense. Implications, rhetorical questions and politeness are other ways that people don’t say what they mean. Problem is, you’re not a mind reader! Words have specific meanings, so when other people use words to mean other things, you might be left confused and annoyed. If you take everything literally and misunderstand what people are really trying to say, you might be on the autism spectrum.
10) You hate changes of routine
Are you invested in the way you do things? If you’re autistic, your routine has great emotional value. You might have a very rigid daily routine with every activity marked down to the minute. You might feel the need to plan everything you do in advance. As a child, your play time might have been highly structured and repetitive. Most importantly, how do you feel when other things disrupt your routine? If you feel greatly distressed when things don’t go to plan, you might be on the autism spectrum.
There you have it, ten signs that you might be on the autism spectrum. Do you relate to any of these? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to like and share this article if it helps you and you think it helps someone else too. The studies and references used are listed in the description below.
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Eriksson, J. M., Andersen, L. M., & Bejerot, S. (2013). RAADS-14 Screen: validity of a screening tool for autism spectrum disorder in an adult psychiatric population. Molecular Autism, 4(1), 1-11.
Williams, J., Scott, F., Stott, C., Allison, C., Bolton, P., Baron-Cohen, S., & Brayne, C. (2005). The CAST (childhood asperger syndrome test) test accuracy. Autism, 9(1), 45-68.
Woodbury-Smith, M. R., Robinson, J., Wheelwright, S., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2005). Screening adults for Asperger syndrome using the AQ: A preliminary study of its diagnostic validity in clinical practice. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 35(3), 331-335.