5 Things I Fear as an Adult With Autism


Every person can experience fear and anxiety; it’s part what makes us human. Sensory issues mixed with obsessive thoughts from my autism cause my fears to be heightened.

Five things I fear, which may seem irrational to the typical mind but produce a fight-or-flight response for me, include:

1. Driving long distances in my car.

My savant mind keeps track of statistics. In 2014, there were more than 32,000 deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute.

I fear becoming one of these statistics. My autism also causes me to become easily distracted, and I fear driving out of state and getting lost during the night on a dirt road surround by cornfields.

2. Change in my daily routine.

One of the main characteristics of autism in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is repetitive behavioral.

I follow the same rigid pattern every work day. I get up at 5:55 a.m. and head to work. But an infant baby has the power to change my rituals. I fear waking up at 5:30 a.m. and driving my daughter to my parents’ house. I fear being late for work due to a new pattern.

3. Meddling with my toy collection.

I have a $6,000 Calico Critter collection kept in unopened stacked boxes and also animal toys from around the world stored in my former bedroom (or man cave) at my parents’ house.

After my daughter was born, my parents wanted to remodel my old bedroom into a nursery. The honey badger came out of the burrow ready to fight. Needless to say, the collection stayed, and my parent’s guest room became a nursery.

4. Abnormal phobias.

When I was 6 years old, we went for a family vacation. During the vacation, we visited a farm in Missouri. The farmer’s wife had mud-stained, long toenails. For the next seven years, I would experience a meltdown with just the sight of bare feet. This phobia kept me from swimming at the beach.

Two years ago, I read an article about a homeless man who froze to death in an outhouse and his body wasn’t discovered until summer. As you can guess, I won’t be using an outhouse anytime soon .

5. Supervisors and job performance reviews.

I’ve experienced both underemployment and unemployment. I fear having a supervisor call me into his office and stating, “Things just aren’t working out here” or “You’re just not the right fit.”

I’ve learned not to allow my emotions or fears control or overwhelm me and instead move forward. When I experience fear and anxiety, I can talk with my family,
friends or co-workers and evaluate if the situation or problem is something I should fear. I also can take three deep breaths to release my anxiety.

Follow this journey on Spectrum Inclusion.

What’s a part of your condition you live with every day that others might not see? Explain what that experience feels like. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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