Resources for Adult Autistic People

I recently realised that I’m autistic. Here are the resources I found valuable in figuring out what this means. All of these links are about autism in adults, which can be a challenge to find. Where possible I’ve prioritised resources created by neurodivergent people. 

Who is on the Spectrum?

Why it’s nonsense to say that everyone’s a little bit autistic

One of the distinguishing features of autism is what the DSM-V calls an “uneven profile of abilities.” There’s a reason people like to say that “if you have met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Every autistic person presents slightly differently.

That’s because autism isn’t one condition. It is a collection of related neurological conditions that are so intertwined and so impossible to pick apart that professionals have stopped trying.

The Neurodivergent Woman podcast: Overlap between Autism and ADHD

Self Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Imposter Syndrome

Reasons why autistic people self diagnose

The medical system has long focused on young, white boys — at that, often cisgender, heterosexual, and from families with money — who exhibit very specific autistic traits when it comes to research, diagnosis, and accommodations. This excludes everyone else, and means the most prevalent information we have only helps part of the community. As a result, the more intersections of oppression an autistic person exists are, the more difficult it can be for them to get a professional diagnosis.

Self Diagnosis: but isn’t it harmful?
Self diagnosis is not a uninformed, spontaneous decision. It is not done without thoroughly educating oneself first.

Why it’s helpful to know whether or not you are autistic
Instead of looking over strengths and challenges and feeling strange or different from others but not knowing why, they gain a system for understanding certain patterns of feeling and responding.

Adult autistic people are frequently misdiagnosed as having mental health conditions before they’re diagnosed as autistic
This post is about the hundreds and thousands of autistic people who are misdiagnosed everyday by psychiatrists, psychologists, and other professionals.

How to deal with autistic imposter syndrome
Many of us who are autistic have had that sinking feeling that we may have been faking autism in some way, misappropriating a diagnosis that we do not deserve or fearing we have been misdiagnosed.

Interacting With Others: Masking, Empathy and Social Anxiety

Thin Slicing: Autistic people and first impressions
Thin slice judgements are those first-impressions that people make that continue to define and influence how a person feels about someone. Research has shown that these judgements are disproportionately negative for autistic people and that non-autistic people have an instant dislike of them.

Autistic Masking
Masking is a social skill that persons with autism adopt in social settings in which non-autistic people expect non-autistic behavior. Examples include faking eye contact, mirroring, minimizing, and disguising behaviors and feelings. Autism masking has been documented to cause stress, depression, and other mental health and identity issues.

Double empathy problem: miscommunication is a two way street

How autism may affect sympathy and empathy
Research into the link between autism, empathy, and sympathy has evolved over the past 40 years. Initially, it was believed that a lack of empathy and sympathy was a universal trait of autism, but more recent research indicates that this varies among individuals with the condition.

The questions of whether people with autism truly empathize or sympathize with others, what stands in the way of a traditional response, whether this can be taught, and whether an apparent lack of empathy or sympathy really reflects a lack of emotional connectedness are more nuanced than early research suggests

How to tell the difference between social anxiety and autism

Neurodivergent insights on the overlap between social anxiety and autism

Managing the kind of social anxiety that autistic people can have

Regulating Emotions and Sensory Input

Autism, interoception and alexithymia
Many of the stereotypical assumptions about autism (for example, that we struggle with empathy, theory of mind, emotional identification, and reciprocity) are actually better explained by alexithymia and are not intrinsic to autism itself. Today’s article will provide an overview of the Autism-Alexithymia overlap and then talk about the differences between autism and alexithymia. First, let’s dive into the overlap.

Strategies for improving poor interoception
To put it simply: a person can not consistently self-regulate when their interoception system is dysregulated. As a Psychologist, I learned so many “emotional regulation strategies” that often seem misattuned to my neurodivergent clients. It wasn’t until I learned what interoception is that I began to connect the dots. Many of the emotional regulation strategies that I had learned do not effectively work when there are underlying interoception issues. For this reason, it’s important to consider interoceptive awareness as part of any therapeutic work.

Neurodivergent Woman podcast: Alexithymia and Interoception

Stimming. What it is, and why it’s important and beneficial

Neurodivergent Woman podcast: Repetitive Behaviours

The benefits of autistic special interest
But it’s only in the past decade or so that autism professionals have begun to recognize the value of these intense interests that emerge in early childhood. Clinicians have historically called them circumscribed interests, and they belong to the category of diagnostic criteria for autism called “restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities,” which also includes movements such as hand-flapping and an insistence on rigid routines. A distinguishing aspect of special interests is their intensity: They can be so absorbing that they are the only thing the person wants to do or talk about.

Autistic and ADHD nervous system and stress response: increasing the window of tolerance

Music and the Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve is in close proximity to the ear, through which we hear sound and music. When we listen to music, the vibrations of the sound resonate in the eardrums before traveling through the vagus nerve. Since the vagus nerve is associated with important physical functions like heart rate, taste, swallowing, and digestion, it’s closely related to the “rest and digest” PNS. When the vagus nerve is activated, it stimulates the PNS and sends a signal that it’s time to relax.

Autism and differences in stress responses, the sympathetic nervous system

Vision and hearing challenges with vestibular disorders
Interestingly, some patients with a vestibular disorder may also experience photosensitivity (discomfort with bright light) and other vision problems such as: intense discomfort with flickering lights, particularly fluorescent, sodium, or mercury vapor lights, moving objects, rows of similar objects, such as in grocery store aisles or lines of text on a page, or busy, high contrast patterns, such as polka dots or sunlight filtering through mini-blinds.

Hyper and hypo sensitivity to the 8 sensory systems

Video on the differences and overlaps between autism and ptsd 

Neurodivergent Woman podcast: Trauma

Autism and PTSD
Given the high rate of co-occurrence, it is more likely that missed diagnosis happens (vs. misdiagnosis). A missed diagnosis happens when a person’s PTSD is accurately diagnosed while their underlying neurotype (autism) remains missed. When they do co-occur this creates some additional complexity in the clinical presentation.

Demand Avoidance,
Autistic people may avoid demands or situations that trigger anxiety or sensory overload, disrupt routines, involve transitioning from one activity to another, and activities/events that they don’t see the point of or have any interest in.

Persistant Drive for Autonomy, an alternative view of Pathological Demand Avoidance.
The core of PDA is an anxiety-driven need for autonomy. PDA causes someone to avoid demands and expectations for the sole purpose of remaining in control. When faced with a demand (even a really minor one), PDAers can have extreme reactions.

Neurodivergent Woman podcast: Pathological Demand Avoidance

Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria in Autism and ADHD
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, or RSD for short, is a common issue experienced by Neurodivergent (ND) people. It is thought to be caused by increased difficulty in regulating our emotions, which leads to an incredibly heightened experience of rejection.

Echolalia and other echo phenomena from the point of view of an autistic person

Neurodivergent Woman podcast: Neurodivergence and Therapy

Neurodivergent Woman podcast: Executive Functioning

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