‘Dresses comfortably due to sensory issues and practicality’ I only buy things which I know I will be comfortable in i.e.; cotton, no scratchy tags, nothing too tight under my arms etc, but I still like to have nice clothes which I guess fall under the current fashions , albeit fairly loosely (I buy things from fashion stores that are in season, but then I continue to wear it for years after)
‘Will not spend much time on grooming and hair. Hairstyles usually have to be ‘wash and wear’ Can be quite happy not grooming at all at times’ I didn’t used to bother with makeup and what my hair looked like etc. when I was pre-15 years old but I felt like it was just one more thing that singled me out from the ‘normal’ girls and that it was more ammo for the bullies, so when I started my new school at around 15 (after leaving a school due to bullying) I decided I would do the hair and makeup thing all the other girls seemed to be so interested in. It helped me blend in and it felt like ‘war paint’ to me. I still put a lot of effort into my hair and makeup if I’m going out because I feel like I blend in that way. If I’m at home I won’t bother – I stay in my PJ’s and only get ready in the evening before we go anywhere. Sometimes I won’t get dressed for a couple days in a row if I’m feeling particularly low. As for my hairstyle, I spend money on getting it dyed and highlighted etc. but the style is always a ‘wash and go’ if I need it to be but likewise, I can spend ages on it if that’s better suited to the occasion or if I just feel like straightening it or whatever.
‘Eccentric personality; may be reflected in appearance’ I think that I’m quite an oddball, so to speak – but I don’t think it’s hugely reflected in my appearance; it used to be – I was very gothic for a few years but it just draws more attention. People would probably say I’m ‘unique’ which is true for everyone, so really is just a ‘nice’ way of saying I’m weird!
‘Is youthful for her age, in looks, dress, behaviour and tastes’ Not really – maybe in behaviour but only in the privacy of my own home, I know how to act in public and be ‘grown up’.
‘Usually a little more expressive in face and gesture than male counterparts’ I have no idea – probably. I think I make a lot of facial expressions, but they might not show the emotions I intended. From seeing myself in my videos I think I probably do seem quite expressive – but only with people I am comfortable with, otherwise I will just shrink into myself and close off a lot.
‘May have many androgynous traits despite an outwardly feminine appearance. Thinks of herself as half male/half female’ This is somewhat true. I think that a lot of my interests are more boyish than other girls but I wouldn’t go to the extreme of thinking of myself as half male, at all.
‘May not have a strong sense of identity, and can be very chameleon –like, especially before diagnosis’ Before my diagnosis I was a bit of a tom-boy, i.e. I wore boys clothes and didn’t do anything with hair and makeup etc., but I felt I wanted to be like that. After we’d started on the long road to diagnosis I became a lot more girly and knew what I liked – well, I was a ‘Goth’, but still girly, and I put a lot of effort into that identity. However, it didn’t do me any favours in terms of getting along with people, so I started to merge into whatever all the other girls looked like, and just blended in. Nowadays I know what style I like and don’t copy or follow anyone.
‘Enjoys reading and films as a retreat, often sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, can have favourites which are a refuge’ I definitely love to watch movies and I do enjoy reading but I have favourites and won’t really stray easily from those to begin a new book. All of the books I like are fantasy and most are classed as ‘teen fiction’.
‘Uses control as a stress management technique: rules, discipline, rigid in certain habits, which will contradict her seeming unconventionality’ Sometimes when everything seems to be falling apart, I will fall back onto organising things into a set ‘timetable’ with the view that if I stick to it I should be able to sort everything out. In terms of it ‘contradicting’ my unconventionality, I don’t know. I don’t know how unconventional I am – probably quite, to be fair! I am usually quite disorganised until things, as I say, fall apart and then to sort it I get organized, but like, hyper-ly so.
‘Usually happiest at home or in other controlled environment’ This is mostly true – I don’t like my home, but I’m happier here than in most other places. With a few exceptions, one being a familiar house of a family member, which I like more than my home.
‘May have been diagnosed as autistic or Asperger’s when young, or may have been thought of as gifted, shy, sensitive, etc. May also have had obvious or severe learning deficits’ I wasn’t diagnosed young but I was definitely always the ‘gifted’ pupil at the top of my class in pretty much all subjects but that really didn’t seem to help me when you put it against how shy I was. I was also sensitive, I reacted – probably over reacted – to being bullied and it bothered me a lot more than I think it should. But, being so shy, I could never really stand up for myself.
‘Often musical, artistic’ Yes for both; I played instruments from a fairly young age, but could never read music and got easily frustrated with that fact so I didn’t really pursue anything musical aside from the piano – but I have a limited talent for that. I’ve always drawn a lot and making my work at school look as decorative as possible was always high on my list; I always finished with ample time left so I could make it look nice. Nowadays, I sing and play the piano (still limited with that though) and I paint from time to time, but my artistic side is mostly used for graphic design.
‘May have a savant skill or strong talent’ Unless you can count my ability to do YouTube videos and make a nice forum for people on the spectrum, then no, and I know you can’t!
‘May have a strong interest in computers, games, science, graphic design, inventing things of a technological and visual nature. More verbal thinkers may gravitate to writing, languages, cultural studies, psychology’ I have a strong interest in graphic design and writing and I am interested in psychology but not enough to pursue it – although I did begin a course on psychology I felt it was going to be too tedious (as with all courses, I just feel like I know a lot of it already, even though if I stuck at it, it would get more advanced).
‘May be a self-taught reader, been hyperlexic as a child, and will possess a wide variety of other self-taught skills as well’ I didn’t teach myself to read – but I taught myself more advanced words as I grew up. My parents taught me to read when I was very young. In early school years I was a lot more advanced with my reading than everyone else and progressed through the levels of reading very quickly until I was allowed to just read whatever I wanted from the library, rather than a colour coded book ( which symbolized the difficulty level). As for other self-taught skills…drawing? I mean, you either can or you can’t, but they do try to teach it, but I already was very good by that point. I generally just learn how to do things on my own, but I though everyone did – how else are you supposed to do it?
‘May be highly educated but will have had to struggle with social aspects of college. May have one or many partial degrees’ Nope – this just isn’t me. But it could be. I possess the skills to go through all the qualifications up to degree level but I don’t possess the social skills needed to go with that. Hence why I left school early with 2 qualifications, which were nowhere near the grade they could have been because I didn’t attend the lessons you are meant to have done to pass. Although, I did still get pretty much the highest grade they would allow (I had to take foundation papers).
‘Can be very passionate about a course of study or job, and then change direction or go completely cold on it very quickly’ This is true for me. As I didn’t get all my qualifications at high school it meant I couldn’t go to college, but I persuaded them to let me attend providing I chose courses which weren’t studied in high school, therefore were starting from scratch. But very quickly I decided it wasn’t for me, despite having fought for my place for quite some time. Working for myself is all I want to do and I don’t need qualifications for that so it would have been a waste of my time.
‘Will often have trouble holding onto a job and may find employment daunting’ So daunting that I haven’t bothered with it! I imagine I would struggle a great deal to hold onto a job. I’m too ‘up and down’ with my mood to be able to attend a workplace every single day – hence the starting my own business.
‘Highly intelligent, yet sometimes can be slow to comprehend due to sensory and cognitive processing issues’ This was more the case for me in school than it is now. In school I struggled to take everything in, so whilst nine times out of ten I would have known the answer, I just didn’t catch it all in time to process it and think of the answer, so teachers would assume I hadn’t been paying attention. Sometimes now, if people are saying a lot and there’s a question in there somewhere I will still be like…wait, what?
‘Will not do well with verbal instruction – needs to write down or draw diagram’ If there’s a long list of things I need to remember then they definitely need to be written down, otherwise I’ll forget the first things. When someone lists a load of numbers or whatever for me to remember and I can’t write them down, the last few just repeat around my head, but I’ll have no clue what the first ones were.
‘Will have obsessions but they are not as unusual as her male counterpart’s’ I think this is a fair point, my obsessions are more every day, but to an unusual level. I’m obsessed with the forum I run and certain books/TV shows. So it’s okay for me to talk about it a little to other people because usually it’s things that they’re interested in at a normal level, but obviously I take it to an extreme.
‘Emotionally immature and emotionally sensitive’ I think I can be immature sometimes, if everything is getting on top of me, I tend to regress back a little towards my childhood ways. If I am really down, I can cry ‘at the drop of a hat’ so to speak. I think it’s gotten a lot better as I’ve got older though – as a teenager I was a lot worse.
‘Anxiety and fear are predominant emotions’ I definitely get anxious a lot more than I should. I’m not as sure about the fear thing though. Both are heightened though if I’m having a bad day or if I’m outside – and if I’m alone.
‘More open to talking about feelings and emotional issues than males with AS’ I discuss my feelings and issues with my partner and my Mum. I also speak a lot about it on my videos so I guess this is a fair statement. I’m not sure if males are less likely to do this, I just think they’re not given the chance to – because they’re males and NT males aren’t emotional. My partner is quite emotional though.
‘Strong sensory issues – sounds, sights, smells, touch, and prone to overload (less likely to have taste/food texture issues as males)’ I definitely have issues with high pitched noises, or constant noises like electrical hums – they just begin to hurt my ears because they sound so much louder than they are. Bright lights bother me and the brightness of white cloudy days really gives me a headache. I have an overactive sense of smell, which can really be an issue as strong smells make me feel like there is no air to breathe and I feel like I’m choking. With touch, I prefer a heavy touch than a light touch – if something brushes past me it drives me insane and I can feel where it made contact for ages afterwards, like it’s still there. I do get overloaded, but not as much now that I know what to avoid. I do have taste and food texture issues. Sometimes I like the taste but not the texture and sometimes I like the texture but not really the taste – and sometimes I just can’t stand either!
‘Moody and prone to bouts of depression. May have been diagnosed as bi-polar or manic depressive (common comorbid diagnosis’ of AS/autism) while the AS diagnosis was missed’ I think I almost ended up with something along those lines, rather than AS. I am prone to bouts of depression, but nowadays it only lasts a few hours or days, rather than weeks or months – and it’s usually only when I’m alone.
‘Probably given several different prescriptions to treat symptoms. Will be very sensitive to medications and anything else she puts in her body so may have had adverse reactions’ I was offered anti-depressants and I did end up with the pills but I never ended up taking them and I didn’t feel I was bad enough for them. I did end up getting prescribed with ‘the pill’ (Microgynon 30) purely to try and stabilize my mood but I stopped taking them because they made a whole host of other things worse.
‘Stims to soothe when sad or agitated: rocking, face-rubbing, humming, finger flicking, leg bouncing, finger or foot-tapping’ I rock a lot without realising it in general, I’m not sure if my mood affects it. I think I foot tap/finger tap when I’m gradually getting anxious. I know I clap randomly when I’m happy, or excited. And sometimes I don’t even know why I’ve done it, I just do – it’s just another way to show my happiness I think, but I can get annoying. I don’t like touching my face too much if I can help it, although I will straighten out my eyebrows with my fingers if I’m agitated. If I’m really stressed, or sometimes if I’m concentrating really hard, I will pick my eyelashes out, without realising it.
‘Similarly physical when happy, hand flapping, clapping, jumping, singing, running around, dancing, bouncing’ As I said, I clap when I’m happy. I do also tend to jump to show my excitement. I love singing anyway, and I will either do it casually when I’m really happy or feeling positive, or I will do it to cheer myself up, with a more serious intention of sounding good, rather than just being carefree with it. Sometimes when I’m really happy, to show my love for Chris, I tend to hug him and then grab him and shake him a little. I don’t know why!
‘Prone to temper or crying meltdowns, even in public, sometimes over seemingly small things due to sensory or emotional overload’ I can get quite emotional at small things, but only if a lot of things have been building gradually and then another small things pushes me over into a proper meltdown. I have had a lot of panic attacks or meltdowns in public before, but it was before I was with Chris and before we had a car – which meant that if I felt it coming on, I couldn’t do anything to get out of the situation; home was a train or bus journey away and I couldn’t just rush back to the car to calm down. I can see how many times I could have had a public meltdown in the past few years, but because we had a car, I could just try and prolong the attack and get back to it.
‘Hates injustice and hates to be misunderstood, this can incite anger and rage’ Yeah this is fair enough. I can’t stand it when someone just doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say or what my intention is. I feel like I have to justify myself, but I get annoyed when they still don’t get it. Plus, being told all through my teens that my problem is probably just hormones was really annoying because I knew it was more than that. Injustice is a touchy subject and it’s prone to people’s individual opinions, not a hard and fast right or wrong that we should stick to. I don’t like it when I am wronged but there is nothing I can do about it; I do tend to feel like that person should pay in some way. But there’s not a lot you can do except get over it.
‘Prone to mutism when stressed or upset, especially after a meltdown. Less likely to stutter than male counterparts but may have raspy voice, monotone at times, when stressed or sad’ I definitely don’t much feel like talking a lot just after a meltdown. I prefer it if I can just lie down or curl up, and Chris will come and cuddle me to calm me down. My voice is raspy a lot, but I have no idea why, or if it’s when I’m sad. I can get quite monotone, but I try not to, I guess if I’m stressed I have less energy to care about adding feeling to my voice, so it comes out dull.
‘Word and actions are often misunderstood by others’ I think a lot of NT people tend to misunderstand my humour and will be confused by what I’ve said, and then I feel stupid having to explain it – but that’s mostly because I use a lot of made up words for things, and they sometimes slip out in conversation. I guess the most misunderstood thing is when I’m really upset and people can’t figure out why I’m so sad or why it’s bothering me to such an extent.
‘Is very outspoken at times, may get very fired up when talking about passions/obsessive interests’ I think that if it’s a topic I feel I know a decent amount about, or have a strong opinion about, then I find it difficult to hold back and just stay calm and casual. I will usually end up sighing and just trying to end the conversation. As for my obsessions, I think I light up a little bit when I start talking about something I’m passionate about, but then I go on and on a little too much and have to reign myself back in!
‘Like her male counterpart, will shut down in social situations once overloaded, but is generally better at socializing in small doses. May even give the appearance of ‘skilled’, but it is a ‘performance’ If there are a lot of people, even if I know them (family), I will close into myself and just talk or nod briefly when I have to, but I will panic quite quickly and just want to get out as soon as possible, before I really melt down. If I’m with one or two people that I know well, then I am fine, pretty much – but I still think they must think I’m strange!
‘Doesn’t go out much. Will prefer to go out with partner only or children if she has them’ I never go out alone, and I never go out with anyone except my fiancé or my parents. When I go out, I usually stay in the car, or only get out if it’s necessary, like for the gym. I won’t just get out and walk around with no aim, unless it’s a relatively empty location and it’s pretty and we can walk – and only if it’s warm and sunny; never when it’s rainy or windy (the feeling of either/both is too much for me and usually makes me panic).
‘Will not have many girlfriends and will not do ‘girly’ things like shopping with them or have get-togethers to ‘hang out'’ No I don’t have any female friends, in real life – though I do have online friends. I only go ‘shopping’ for fun with my Mum or my fiancé. I used to like having sleep overs with my best friend when I was at school, but we weren’t friends for long so that didn’t last. Nowadays, I can’t bear the thought of staying over at someone else’s house, let alone if it was a spur of the moment thing!
‘Will have a close friend or friends in school, but not once in adulthood is reached’ Yes I had a close friend throughout school, who it was varied, but I had at least one for most of school – until I was about 14 and then I didn’t seem to bond with anyone else, really. I don’t have a close, real life friend anymore.
‘May or may not want to have a relationship. If she is in a relationship, she probably takes it very seriously but she may choose to remain celibate or alone’ Yes I am in a relationship, but I never thought I would be – it just happened, because he found me and he was perfect for me. I prefer to spend all of my time with him, and he feels the same.Of course I take it seriously!
‘If she likes a male, she can be extremely, noticeably awkward in her attempts to let him know, e.g. she may stare when she sees him or call him repeatedly. This is because she fixates and doesn’t understand societal gender roles. This will change with maturity’ I don’t feel that this is specific to liking a person in an ‘I want a relationship kind of way’, I think it’s true for friends as well. I think I was probably an overbearing friend to have, if I really liked my friend. With my fiancé he was like this with me, before we were dating, I think. He was definitely awkward, and spoke to me a lot on the internet. But, then when we started dating, I bombarded him with texts as well!
‘Often prefers the company of animals, but not always due to sensory issues’ I definitely feel I could be really attached to animals, especially a dog. But I’ve never had one so I don’t know for sure. They do scare me a little, but only because I don’t know how to act with another family’s dog.
Here is the video series to go with it: