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20 Things People Didn’t Realize They Were Doing Because of Autism

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I was 30 years old when I was diagnosed with autism. This came over decades of misdiagnoses, misunderstandings and maltreatment. Having a diagnosis helped make so much make more sense to me. There were so many things I didn’t realize I was doing that, looking back, were connected to my autism. Since knowing, it has helped me better understand myself and how I interact with others and the world around me as an autistic adult.

There are things many people on the autism spectrum experience, including children and adults, such as stimming/self-soothing behavior, a variety of sensory needs (i.e. sensory seeking and hypersensitivity), social skills challenges, overload, meltdowns and more. Sometimes, when someone like me doesn’t realize they have autism until later in life, it can be more challenging to make a connection to autism.

That’s why we asked people in our Mighty autism community who were diagnosed a little later in life — what’s one thing they did that now, only in hindsight, they realize was related to their autism?

Here’s what our community shared with us:

Stimming/Self-Soothing Behavior

1. “Rocking back and forth. I did it as a kid and still do it as an adult when I am overly stressed. I don’t even realize I’m doing it unless someone points it out.” — Heather T

2. “Stims… Rocking, finger-snapping/popping, fidgeting, picking, spinning, chewing.” — James F.

Sensory Needs

3. “Small sensory issues like not being willing to dress cute if it was itchy or uncomfortable.” — Jaclyn A.

4. “Had trouble taking showers/brushing teeth. Always figured it might have been because I was depressed but then realized it was a sensory issue.” — Delia S.

5. “Chewing on the drawstrings on my sweatshirt.” — Cady L.

6. “I don’t like foods that are colored blue. Like cake frosting. I like cake. I like ice cream. But if you get my cake soggy or my ice cream crumby I won’t eat it. A bowl and a plate.” — Jennifer N.


7. “Eating the same things for meals or at restaurants. Wearing the same outfit in junior high (white long sleeve shirt, black track pants and a blue vest).” — Molly P.

Overload and Meltdowns

8.Meltdowns. Triggered by store lighting especially. I never realized what was ‘wrong’ with me. Same with being triggered by certain sounds.” — Jaclyn A.

9. “Constant burnouts and meltdowns.” — James F.


10. “Trouble with malls and big box stores. If I don’t have a buddy, I might never make it out. Same trouble with amusement parks, zoos and museums.” — Rebecca P.

Social Skills

11. “Not being able to relate to friends. Like if a friend was upset, I wouldn’t know what to do.” — Marie W.

12. “I was an extreme loner, just couldn’t relate to kids my age, only adults. At the time I was just called a stuck-up introvert.” — Silja S.

13. “I would say my lack of social skills!!” — Dianne M.

14. “Why I have difficulties with making and keeping friends for long.” — Jessi L.

15. “Trusted everyone was a good person with bad consequences.” — L.P Smith.

Being Misunderstood and Bullied

16. “I was in my 40s and it was like having a spotlight on my entire life; I understood so much: whys we’re answered, and I sobbed for days as the humiliations and cruelties and misunderstandings were revealed.” — Lesley R.

17. “I got singled out and bullied by roughly 70% of my peers throughout grade school. It began to taper down as I started subconsciously masking my behaviors and consciously masking my appearance.” — James F.


18. “Prepared conversations in my head before I went anywhere.” — Jodie C.

19. “The main one that sticks out was my lack of being able to communicate with certain people, ask for help, something as simple as asking to use the restroom in school. Which found out later it was called selective mutism.” — Brittany C.

Special Interests

20. “Highly intelligent, socially awkward and highly into special interests, from horse showjumping to Dungeons and Dragons, to high-level mathematics.” — Suzanne J.

What would you add?

Photo by Dana Jm on Unsplash

Originally published: August 4, 2020
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