How We Experience the World Survey

I was stumped for a title on this one. The questions all center around various ways we experience the world around us, but they’re about as loosely related as you can get and still say there’s a theme.

If you want to answer anonymously, you can do so at Survey Monkey.


1. Is the fascination with certain topics usually a life-long one, persistent over many years, or subject to change ?

2. What are your special interests and on what scale do you engage in them?

3. What effect does alcohol have on you, particularly on your executive function or stimming?

4.  I’m wondering if sitting all crossed-up in chairs is an ASD ‘thing.’ (i.e. do you do this?)

5. Do you have some very specific memories? Such as “ah-ha!” moments that you can draw up much more clearly than most memories, involving not only a picture but feelings, perhaps sounds and smells etc. as well and the image is VERY clear whereas most memories are a thought.

6. Do you sometimes attribute feelings to inanimate objects? Do you feel like certain objects ‘want to’ be interacted with or will feel bad if you don’t use them? Do you explain some of your quirks in this way, for example thinking that street furniture or certain textures want to be touched/felt, rather than you want to touch them? Or does it feel this way but you translate it when talking to others?

7. Does arousal influence you in an autism-specific way? As in: Do you overload easily when aroused? Does arousal influence, for example, your verbal reasoning skills than you feel would be “normal”? Do you stim when aroused? (for clarification: the questioner described this question as being “personal” so I think they are referring to sexual arousal, but answer in whatever way is comfortable for you)

8. Do you have difficulty with sequencing – working out the order in which you need to do things – for example if you were preparing an unfamiliar meal with several elements, would you have difficulty balancing them all without explicit planning and measurement in advance? Do you often realise you’ve done things in the wrong order or in a very inefficient way?

9. Is your primary fantasy ‘stopping’? In school, I used to fantasize about spontaneously dropping unconscious. As an adult, I fantasize about leaving the social system entirely. more details here

10. We often hear about autistic children wandering off. Did you wander? Did you “disappear” frequently to the point that was upsetting to your family (or teachers?) Why did you wander off? What do you remember about it? Now that you are an adult do you still wander? Do you disappear (perhaps during sensory overload) without telling anyone that you need to remove yourself at this time? more details here

191 thoughts on “How We Experience the World Survey”

  1. my answers:

    1. I have both lifelong special interests and special interests that last for years or months. The lifelong ones tend to ebb and flow, sometimes being very intense and at other times going on hiatus. But they always return eventually. The shorter term interests will come on very fast, burn hot at the beginning and then fizzle out. Once they’re gone, that’s it. I guess it’s like the difference between being in love and having a crush.

    2. Right now: anything related to atypical neurology (long time interest) and especially autism (more recent interest), abandoned places/found objects (another long time interest), triathlon training (just signed up for my first tri in September and I’m obsessed with learning everything about how to train). Mostly I pursue special interests by reading and learning about them, although I’ve also had a lot of participatory special interests (dog training, martial arts and now triathlon) and often writing will be a component of engaging in a special interest.

    3. Alcohol makes me exponentially more autistic. My filter disappears. Echolalia becomes much more pronounced. I get hyper, silly and uninhibited. I’m either a lot of fun or too much to handle, depending on how you look at it.

    4. Yes! I wrote about my experience with this a while back:

    5. Yes and no. Not in the sense that I can recall them on purpose but I do have spontaneous occurrences of this occasionally. They’re almost always triggered by a scent.

    6. I don’t experience this.

    7. This is a hard one to answer because the only direct experience I have of arousal is autism specific and it’s not really something that you can easily compare notes with others about. I find certain kinds of touch overloading due to tactile sensitivities, which can be problematic. But I don’t think there’s anything especially autism-specific about my experience, except maybe that it fulfills some aspects of my sensory seeking nature.

    8. I devote a lot of time to planning, perhaps as a way to compensate for having difficulty with sequencing. But I’m generally pretty good at working out a plan and carrying it out in logical order, as long as I have ample lead time. If i have to do something in a hurry, there’s a good chance I’ll go about it very chaotically or inefficiently.

    9. At times it is. I’ve always thought that something like being a fire lookout in the remote mountains of the southwest or a lighthouse keeper on some deserted coast sounded attractive. That’s probably a gross romanticization of the jobs/lifestyle though.

    10. I do wander at times. Usually when I’m feeling overloaded–for example, when we’ve reached the checkout line after a long shopping trip, I might drift off while my husband is finishing up the transaction. He’s actually called it wandering, though for me it just feels like I’m, I don’t know, hanging out in the vicinity of where I need to be. As a kid I loved wandering aimlessly in the woods and I still really enjoy long rambly walks to nowhere in particular. It’s very relaxing. I’m also prone to wandering off to unused parts of a place during a social event, both to get some quiet and because I’m curious.

    1. That article on sitting is me! Heavens. And the link to the article with feet pictures. I can’t keep my feet upright for the life of me. The more down and tired I am, the more I curl toes in or turn a foot sideways as I stand. (And you should see me on an airplane. I can achieve snail-like levels of contortion in order to curl up in a seat and cover myself with a coat or blanket.) I’ve always read books contorted in a chair, as well. And I wear hiking boots if I can, instead of ‘normal’ shoes, because they make my feet feel ‘firmer’ and give them more pressure. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about clothes in terms of textures and pressure.

      It’s interesting (distressing?) how many things I do are turning out to be stims. I’m absolutely certain by this point that my constant reading is a stim–if I don’t have something to read with me, I get nervous and distressed. I suspect it’s the same as physical pressure, just the mental version. Something to remind me ‘I’m’ there. And the physical carrying of the book is stim-reassuring, as well. As is having a second book in my bag ‘in case’ I run out of the first book or don’t feel like reading it. If I have enough books around, there’s no sense that my mind will ever be ‘alone’ or ‘at loose ends.’

      I’m not yet over how weak my sense of self seems to be, that it needs so much constant reassurance! Since I was 9, I’ve had trouble with the concept of ‘me’ and who ‘I’ am (I literally spent a year thinking I was possessed by aliens and so was everyone else, and constantly asking my parents if I was ‘acting like myself.’) I wonder if this sense can ever be improved, or if that weakness endures forever? It explains my feeling that I am constantly running through life with ‘training wheels’ on.

      1. Dear Otterknot, I have always been that way about books! As a child, I took them to family get-togethers, and as an adult, I took them to bars, the few times I went. I will happily read ingredients lists (for the umpteenth time) rather than read nothing, if I’m feeling the need for something to do. It’s nice to have that in common with you. Yes, the second thing, too, “in case.”

        1. Exactly, the books to bars thing! I’m the person who will be studying Japanese in the middle of a party. Or knitting. It really helps, because usually I do want to be there, I just need something to ground me (I feel like having a companion dog I could take places with me would help a lot with this, too. I’ll spend most of a party with someone’s cat or dog, if they have one, and I’ve seen that that’s fairly common among ASD people. Dogs in particular often like pressure; I love big dogs because they lean against me and because I can totally drape all over them and they like it).

          I used to take 10 or more books on any vacation…even ones that were a weekend long.

          1. that’s why I love my ipad, and I am glad my purse fits it so nicely! I have a hard time leaving home without a jacket, a water bottle and my ipad because then I am prepared for any situation.

          2. Yes! Pets, kids, jigsaw puzzles (in the old days; people don’t seem to do them anymore, but they were big in my family), dishes that need to be done, one favorite and/or safe person – whatever it takes to be comfortably near the group without having to work hard to forge and maintain a place in it conversationally. Those rare events where I know most people, they’re gracious/serious/sincere, and/or the conversation just flows – a rare form of heaven.

          3. Reading as a stim? I am still unfamiliar as to actually the range of what a stim is. But if reading were a stim then yes that would be me. I too read everything from menus, labels, signs, fronts of magazines, what other people are reading. I can’t help myself. It can get tiring. Even if I can’t speak the language well I try to read it and try to pronounce it. I try to work out what it might mean. It’s exciting, completely stimulating. At the end of the day exhausting. A good exhausting.

            When I go away for a weekend or a month I need to take books, journal, computer and art gear. My clothing is sacrificed for my books. With the invention of kindle I can reduce the reading matter space and take more clothing. Sometimes I might not use what I bring but it gives me comfort just being there. Carrying a heavy bag is a small price to pay.

            Reading in a cafe or restaurant was something I used to do a lot. I don’t live that lifestyle now so I don’t do it anymore. 

            I currently have three large cookbooks beside the bed. I enjoy reading cookbooks too. They are just some in the stack.

            I always read licence plates everywhere I go. I find it fascinating finding out where people are from and where they traveled from. Buses destinations, truck work vehicle names and occupations. At airports I enjoy reading the departure boards and gate arrivals or departures.

            1. I think a stim is loosely defined as something we do to feel comfortable, often without noticing. What you say about not being able to help it and enjoying it immensely really fits the definition of a stim too.

              Those of us who read the shampoo bottles and the sugar packet labels in restaurants and the cereal box at breakfast and the year old golf magazine in the doctor’s office are definitely stimming. Also, bringing a book to read at a social gathering feels like a type of stim to me because it’s a way to buffer the stress of the situation and reduce chances of overload. If I’m reading in that kind of situation, I won’t usually be stimming in another way, whereas if I wasn’t reading, I’d be rocking or playing with something in my hand.

              And there is probably overlap between special interests and stimming when it comes to reading. As a kid, I loved to read encyclopedias and would just read the articles in order (probably more of a relaxing stim). I also read the Guiness Book of World Records cover to cover because I was fascinated with extreme human feats (probably more of a special interest).

              1. Thanks for explaining stim. Reading fits then. I can also relate to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Encyclopedia and the dictionary, word origins facinate me.

          4. I know what you mean about having a companion dog – I always feel safer somehow when I’ve got my dog with me. If I could take her everywhere (always assuming that she miraculously transformed into a well-behaved creature!) I’d go more place…

        2. So, I wasn’t just a ‘bookworm’? Even just having a book-like object with me made me feel a little better. Sometimes when I don’t want to read, just think (which I can do for hours while having no idea that more than thirty minutes has passed), I will still hold the book in my hands, especially if on a plane or train. I also like to have a notebook with me when I go anywhere for more than a day. The times I don’t have one with me are guaranteed to be the times I feel a desperate need for one, and I get anxious, and start hunting around for a piece of paper and a half-decent pen, which I find to be a bit embarrassing, especially if I have to ask for it in another person’s house.

          Yet, when it comes to packing my bags I always give out to myself for bringing the books and notepaper, because they are isolating activities. I should join in more, shouldn’t I? I shouldn’t be planning to separate myself from my family, friends, or in-laws. I took a book to a board game I was playing with my family and my husband over the Christmas season about eight years ago, and read it whenever it wasn’t my turn, and was told I was being rude: I wasn’t fully participating. I was shocked. I was here, wasn’t I? This WAS me participating, and calmly too. Games tend to overwhelm me. I’m terrible with any kind of strategy, and I find the vagaries of luck profoundly disturbing. I loved the card game Memory as a child, but my brother stopped playing it with me because I was too good.

          After that Christmas board game, I think I started getting a lot more self-conscious about my activities, and how I presented to others. Accusing me of being rude is a sure-fire way to get me to change. I am petrified of causing upset. Other people’s distress I take personally, sometimes I feel it as if it’s my own, and to know that I am the cause of that – well, it is a meltdown in the making. It also makes me feel like a failure. If I was normal, I wouldn’t have made that mistake; I wouldn’t have come across as rude.

          1. Ha, I could have written most of that XD As could, I think, several other of the women who regularly comment here. I will definitely knit while playing a board game and have attempted the reading while board gaming maneuver, but realized that it rather defeats the social point of the board game concept in general. Nibbling on chips or having something to drink can give me enough to do with my hands that I can survive a game if I’m careful. (I actually like playing some games, if they have a nice toss-up of strategy and chance. And cool pieces.)

            1. You knit! I have always envied and admired knitters. I can’t knit as my bilateral cervical ribs impair my hand coordination. It’s probably also an ASD coordination problem but between the two my hands are a bit useless for some things.

              1. Knitting is great as a stim, because I can still be social around knitting. Much better than a book, for that!

                Also I think I knit quite slowly, probably due to ASD rigidity. I get twitchy if someone takes my knitting and tries to show me how to go faster.

              2. Beth,
                t entirely sure what the bilateral rib thing means, but I hope it’s not true that you can’t learn to knit. It so relaxing and a perfect for calming yourself down in a social setting. There are so many ways to hold the needles, left handed, right handed, tucked under the arm… maybe there is a method that would work. Or how about something like crochet?

                1. Bilateral cervical ribs are a congenital deformity. It basically means that I have extra ribs, one on each side (that’s the bilateral part) of my cervical vertebra that are fused into my collar bones. They pinch the nerves that run to my hands and make it difficult to make the pincer movement. My hands are weak and floppy and because I have a hard time holding on to things I end up squeezing too hard. I can hold a pencil but my grip looks horrible and I often can’t open jars. There are many things that I ask my eleven year old to do for me as he is now stronger. When my mum tried to teach me to crochet when I was in my early teens I knotted everything up so tightly. It was frustrating as I wanted to learn. Maybe I should try again except that the problems with my hands and arms has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. My mum is coming in August. Maybe I should get her to try teaching me again. I did alright with embroidery. I keep thinking that I should pick that up again.

              3. Beth – you may want to try an underarm knitting method. My grandmother used to stick both knitting needles under her arms and guide the yarn with her hands. No pincer grip required! More common is tucking the right needle under your pit. The method is called Irish Cottage Knitting, lever knitting, or armpit knitting. It’s a precursor to the throwing or English knitting methods. There are also devices to help you knit such as knitting belts and knitting sheaths. Once you get the basics down, you can modify it to fit your needs. (Long-term special interest with ebbs and flows)

          2. I can’t handle games either! None. Not sports or board games. People look at me like I’m crazy when I say that I don’t like games.

          3. “I took a book to a board game I was playing with my family and my husband over the Christmas season about eight years ago, and read it whenever it wasn’t my turn, and was told I was being rude: I wasn’t fully participating. I was shocked. I was here, wasn’t I? This WAS me participating, and calmly too. Games tend to overwhelm me. I’m terrible with any kind of strategy, and I find the vagaries of luck profoundly disturbing. I loved the card game Memory as a child, but my brother stopped playing it with me because I was too good.”

            THIS EXACTLY happened to me. My inlaws hated me for not participating and thought I was causing trouble on purpose in the family. I still get upset about it because games DO overwhelm, strategy is ok at times but the luck factor makes me angry and annoyed…We are all exceptional at memory in my house when young…but now I am bad at it. I was also always the winner at Clue. But otherwise games suck and I get judged so much for that!

            1. I never could understand why some people took my ‘odd’ behavior, and that of others, so personally. I mean, was it really that bad? Was so-and-so really a snob? Was it very likely that she thought she was better than everyone else? Or was she painfully shy, or maybe even having a bad day? And was the flaunting of etiquette, for whatever reason, truly so heinous? I thought there were far worse things people did to one another every single day and could not begin to make sense of why these small things seemed to be what commanded so much attention. Not that I had the healthiest attitude either. In fact, I became so frightened of unfairly judging other people for things that hurt me that I took to blaming myself instead. It seemed safer.

              Are things any better with your in-laws now?

              1. They are finally coming around. Because I had kids they wanted them in their life and tried harder…but things did not start turning around until the decade mark of our marriage (it just passed the 12 year mark) when we figured out I have Aspergers/Autism. I asked my mother in law if she would read Aspergirls and she said YES! So She read it all and said,”that made so much sense…no wonder you never wanted to play games or participate….thank you for putting up with all our loud family must have been hard for you. It used to bother me that my son married a sickly girl but now I realize you were not sick…you just had autism.”
                Um thanks?:) She wasn’t meaning to be judgey- she was just saying how it was for her…so I appreciated that effort even if I also felt a tad disconcerted that I would be judged on my health as well, but it was SO sweet of her to read and try to understand and I send them the Musings of an Aspie posts all the time…I don’t know if they read them but we do have a slightly more understanding relationship now and I continue to hope it will get better…I also put myself in her place because I am very close to my youngest son and I saw how hard it must have been for her in retrospect to let her favourite younger boy as a 17 year old get engaged and marry someone unusual and have babies soon after…Now I get it…back then it was just hurtful:)
                Thanks for asking!

                1. It’s great that she’s open to understanding more and doesn’t dismiss it (though I get that being judged on your health isn’t a good thing – surely your personality and attitude towards her son should have been the most important thing?!!) Hopefully it will continue to improve further as she looks at life from your point of view as well.

        3. Ingredients lists 🙂 this! I’ve been amazed at the things they put in shampoo bottles (heaven help me if I go to the bathroom without reading material)

          1. In all of my family members’ houses, there is a stack of magazines and books in the bathroom. Except mine. My husband thinks it’s odd (you go in, you go out – quickly, efficiently), messy (I would leave magazines on the floor in fairness), and he rightly predicted he’d never get me out of the room… It was so normal for my family though. We even gave ‘toilet reading’ as presents at Christmas time. I’m beginning to see how hard it might be to tell as a child if you’re different or not, if your family also displays traits that are unusual (not necessarily ASD), and everyone just thinks of everyone else as acceptably odd. Mind you, I was always considered the oddest.

      2. I’ve always done “reading as a stim” – at restaurants (high potential for overload, too much time spent sitting still), I’ll read the comment cards, dessert menus, advertising cards, specials board, basically everything on the table or on the walls.

        I also have difficulty with sense of self but it’s improving gradually.I have a tendency to take on the likes and interests of people around me and then not assert my own likes/wants/etc. Or not even really know what they are. I’ve been mindfully hacking away at those habits and it does help, but it’s a very slow process.

        1. “I also have difficulty with sense of self but it’s improving gradually.I have a tendency to take on the likes and interests of people around me and then not assert my own likes/wants/etc. Or not even really know what they are.”

          That, exactly. For me, it’s made romantic relationships a doozy–I lose track of who I am in wanting to please the other person and not ‘scare them away’ or ‘be boring.’ And I know I used to use roleplaying to try to ‘hack’ personality traits onto myself. It’s exhausting feeling like the basic ‘me’ is very sparse and lacks the tools and range most people’s ‘me”s seem to have.

          (Also, I’m pretty sure I use making and seeking Internet comments as a stim to survive workdays 😉 )

          1. The issue of self is interesting for me. It’s a piece of things that I don’t feel I’ve experienced, despite having many other kinds of “crossover” experiences. I’m not sure if it’s how I came into this world, or whether it was fostered in me; my parents always emphasized my specialness/uniqueness in all the world, and I was raised also with the concept of “spirit” or “soul.” I think I equate soul with self, and thus have always believed in the self – my own, and others’. (That’s actually the one element of religion that always held steady for me while other aspects wavered.) This hasn’t saved me from social problems – the trap of trying to please people (although not in order to “find” myself or because I felt I lacked a self, but as a means toward being seen, recognized, and valued by others) and painful feelings of separateness. But I do feel I have a kind of “home base.” In fact, two different people in my life – one “neurotypical,” one not – have each in the past made a point of mentioning the strong “self” they perceived me to have, by way of drawing a distinction between themselves and me. To be held as the ultimate foil and a source of despair, in those cases, rather than the ultimate friend and love I wanted to be, felt pretty awful.

        2. Never thought about it as a stim, but I do that. In the shower I have to read the entire label of the shower bottle. Every single time. Eating breakfast I have to read the back of the cereal box. In a restaurant it’s the sugar packets, or anything else I can find. If I am walking across the parking lot it’s every license plate I pass. Every free second I get at work I am reading my Facebook news feed even if there is nothing new. I still read it all again. When I was in highschool I read 3-4 paperbacks each week. And still felt like i wasn’t reading enough.

        3. Ah, yes to the reading everything in arm’s reach/sight 24/7! I’m glad that other people do this, too. I love those tables in restaurants that are covered with business cards or advertising just for that reason. I’m digging the stories from other people about reading license plates and imagining all of the connections between locations…I’ve done that for years and my companions usually give me a head-pat type of attitude or just chalk it up to being a map-nerd. It really is interesting, though!
          I don’t read as many books of late as I would like, but I read stuff online practically 24/7. The advent of the smartphone has been great for travel…if I feel bored with the 1-2 books I keep in my bag, I can always find something to read online that matches my mood or interests for the day.

      3. Oooh! the foot pressure thing. That’s a big part of what I loved about dancing on point when I was still taking ballet. The squeezy pressiness of it was wonderful. And maybe this is just because of growing up in the nineties on the west coast surrounded by hippies, but I always love the way hiking boots look with flowered dresses and India cottons skirts. Not that that has anything to do with anything.

      4. The book thing was one of the glorious aspects of being raised by a librarian. There was no such thing as too much or inappropriate reading in our house.

        1. I confessed to my Dad one time that I found the youth discos I went to with friends boring, and I genuinely couldn’t figure out why everyone I knew loved them so much. His response: ‘You should take a book with you next time’. When I gasped in horror at such social subversiveness, he laughed and said, ‘What? You’re always saying you want to be different. THAT’S different.’ I always meant to do it, but never got up the nerve. Now I accept I hate clubs, so I don’t go near them. As for wanting to be different, I wanted to be loved for being different, but rarely had the nerve to test the theory out: was I lovable just for being exactly who I was?

          My sense of self is terrible. I did a type of group therapy once where we had to come up with attributes which we really believed described who we were in essence. All I was left with was a list of adjectives that I felt could describe most people, including me, depending on what day you find them on. I admire those possessed of a strong sense of self. I tend to want to start romantic relationships with them, almost as if that will grant me some of that confidence by proxy, which is exactly how my husband caught my eye. On the other hand, very dominant people terrify me. It takes a lot of hard work not to completely shrink in their presence. Ironically, I suspect that I came across as the dominant party in my group of friends as a teenager, mostly because my insecurities made me try to control everything around me – a common cause of domineering behavior in most people, I imagine, no matter their place on the spectrum.

          1. I never really had groups of friends. I had my best friend in high school but she was a bit of a social oddity like me. In retrospect it was and still is a balanced relationship but to this day, still one of the very few relationships in my life. I am very close to my husband as well but I never feel right in a group.

            Also, when I was younger my sense of self was very tied up in being a dancer and when I quit I lost that and had a bit of a crisis over it. I had to decide that I was okay with being “just a person” which is how I thought of it back then.

            1. I had/have groups of friends to help me feel regular. Also, the noise of more than one person helped me to forget myself for a while, but secretly I preferred when only one friend slept over. I left quite a large, and loud, group of friends/acquaintances in Ireland (I’m now in US), and I suspect it will be the last time I ever have that. It’s too much for me, and involved way too much alcohol to cope, to fit in. Sadly, the stereotype of how much Irish people drink tends to hold true for many. I will do my best to keep the three or four very dear individual friends I have, however. I would guess that they all veer towards NT, but I am drawn towards rule-breakers, to people who do not neatly fit their surroundings, so they accept me as I am, and accept how, and when, I choose to communicate. Funnily enough though, a girl from the group rang me up today and asked ‘Have you made any friends over there yet?’ I made some excuse about my husband and I not having time yet to go out, get involved in activities through which we could meet people, but in my head I’m screaming ‘I’m ASD! It may take me years to make a new friend, or it might never happen again. And I’m okay with that!’

          2. I do exactly that, romantically. I’m drawn to very strong definite personalities, because I envy them. Which is a horrible basis for a relationship! And then, of course, after a while around someone that dominant, I feel worn down because the little sense of self I do have rears up and resists.

            The weak sense of self thing I find so painful. It’s like it even prevents me caring about myself. I have a hard time caring about things I should care about, like employment or consequences to my actions, because everything seems distant and dispersed anyway, unless I’m immersed in something that gives me constant low-grade stimulation (like net-surfing or reading). I often don’t know how I’m going to live knowing that this ‘self-lessness’ is a biological fact, not a passing development point. For instance, I’m at work today, my boss is out of town, and I don’t really have that much to do, so I’m experiencing near-physical pain. If I had *nothing* to do and could just web-surf, I would be fine. Since I have *just enough* piecemeal goal-less work to do that it feels oppressive and disorienting, all I can do all day is hang on by my fingernails. I shift, and web-surf, and shift, and do some work, and go for a walk, and feel the constant pressing desire to flee work or sleep somewhere. It’s like without structure (or without true emptiness) I’m left scraping sand back onto a sandcastle that keeps dissolving. Except that sandcastle is my sense of self and it hurts. And everyone else’s castles seem built of something sturdier :\

            /upbeat today

            1. (If you can’t tell, MrsT, I’m pretty new to the idea I likely have ASD and am still very much in the grieving/how to integrate this stages 😉 Also, typing all of this leaves me certain I *do* wander. I have had work days where I am unable to remain at work and have to explain this by saying I have a headache–essentially true. My brain freezes unless I can get elsewhere. And now that I think about it, I know my sister and I used to show up at my grandparents’ often as young children. They lived right next door, so we could ‘run away’ quite easily. And my father can’t keep up with a group or take a a walk with any sense of urgency or purpose for the life of him…the dog definitely walks him, whenever they’re out. And he’ll wander into places, like clearly-signed employee-only parts of buildings, as though it made sense to go there…

              Curses, ASD, making so much of my life and my family’s behavior make sense in a supremely unnerving way. And now I’ll stop talking about me, me, me at you, MrsT. I should save these GOOD LORD IT ALL MAKES SENSE but what do I *do* about it railings for my blog!)

              1. I tried yesterday; I sat outside for a while and worked on my breath. It helped some. I’ll try it again, today. I just have to remind myself to do it regularly. (It frustrates me how much of each day I ‘waste’ in managing my impulses to flee.)

              1. Have no fear Otterknot, I am only four days into my self-realization, and I have woken up every single morning with the most complex array of emotions. Today, for instance, I am contemplating whether or not I can accept autism as a disability or, rather, whether I can accept that I have a disability if I accept I have autism. That wasn’t a pleasant couple of hours.

                I really appreciated what you shared about your workload. I am not employed right now – I burned out, opted out, have been living off some savings, and am terrified of going back when they run out – but I felt as you do about how much work it takes to keep you content, or distracted. I was so grateful that someone finally put it into words for me. This is why I love words, and why they are my Number One special interest. Either I will come up with the words to adequately describe what’s going on in my confusing head, and I will feel as if I am Olympic medallist – or someone else will, and that’s one less thing I have to do and worry about.

            2. Wow, Otterknot, I’ve been struggling with that sense of shifting self lately and your description is very powerful for me. “I’m drawn to very strong definite personalities, because I envy them…I feel worn down because the little sense of self I do have rears up and resists.” Yes, this! Holy crap.
              I realized a while back that I use strong personalities like a social buffer. They take the burden of NT performance off of me and makes my timid, cautious Aspie inner self feel more capable of “coming out into the open.” I tend to feel a palpable sense of loss and confusion (like a vacuum) when those people aren’t around and I’m by myself, because there’s no specific focus around for me to “act” in reply to. I mirror aspects of stronger people and modeling that behavior helps me to showcase those parts of my personality more strongly, in a way that’s almost a relief to do so. (Takes pressure off, or something, by having a script/template to follow.) I feel like it’s easier to be a “real” person around people who are already confident and strong in themselves. When I’m by myself again, I find myself sometimes feeling confused about how to “be.” I don’t know if that makes sense. I used to really worry that I had a personality disorder or something, and was so relieved to learn about mirroring and that Aspies can have a weaker sense of self. It made me feel less crazy. It’s not that I don’t have my own personality or self-identity, but that it takes effort and energy to be myself, mostly because my primary instinct is self-protection and to hide or mask my social deficiencies. When I can glom on to people with stronger personalities, I’ve found that they mostly tend to like having an agreeable person around who listens and finds them interesting, so it can lead to some strong friendships or relationships. Still, it takes energy to be around those folks and I need to time to reset from it and to re-separate myself from them. I get to a point where I so strongly empathize with their viewpoint that I need to pull back and remind myself that I don’t have to live my like the way they do. It’s kind of a Catch-22 situation…I am drawn to strong personalities, but at the same time resent it a little when they streamroll all over me or seem to be surprised when I push back.
              Anyway, thanks for sharing these comments…they’ve been very helpful and I’ll be mulling this topic over for a few days.

              1. ‘I get to the point where I so strongly empathize with their viewpoint that I need to pull back…’
                Yes yes yes. And more yes.

        2. That has got to be the best thing ever! Well, other than living in a library – now that would be uber-cool!!

  2. anonymous answers from Survey Monkey:

    Q1: Mostly life-long, but the “format” changes as well as the intensity

    Q2: Doctor Who, Anthropology, High fantasy. Mostly reading books, doing research, sometimes drawing.

    Q3: I feel very drowsy and find it difficult to walk. This is why I drink rarely and in very small quantities.

    Q4: I definitely do this. Including right now. I like the pressure.

    Q5: Most memories are thoughts as well as feelings and sounds. Like a movie.

    Q6: Not really. However, I feel very upset when some thing or some place is used in a way it is not supposed to.

    Q7: Arousal meant as “generic” excitement – yes, I overload more easily. Not sure about the verbal part (tend to mess speech up perhaps).

    Q8: I do prefer to plan and write down steps in small detail. I do that as a habit. I would miss steps otherwise.

    Q9: I have wondered about leaving the social system or freezing time, but I wouldn’t say it’s a primary fantasy.

    Q10: I remembered a few times I wandered off. To me it seemed completely legitimate, as I was either going home through a different route, or went someplace with people I know my parents considered trustworthy (but I didn’t tell my parents). I do disappear without notice, but not to the extent of not being someplace when I should.

  3. anonymous answers:

    Q1: My fascinations have been very long term, in some cases life long. They sometimes become weaker for a while but they regain intensity.

    Q2: Biking – as much as possible. Painting – as much as possible. Video games – routinely. Reading and studying philosophy and religion – somewhat episodicly.

    Q3: I get a little “buzz” but other than that I don’t feel changed much.

    Q4: No

    Q5: I have very vivid memories of certain situations in my life. These include all the senses. They can be triggered by a sight, a smell, etc. They are along the lines of PTSD.

    Q6: This is one of several things that led me to explore and ultimately realize that I am on the spectrum. I think I sometimes feel more emotionally attuned to objects than to people.

    Q7: I tend not to get aroused. I do get frustrated and angry in a melt down sort of way. At this stage of my life I control it pretty well.

    Q8: No, I am actually quite good at this. For me it is a special reasoning thing.

    Q9: Yes, dropping out for sure.

    Q10: Mentally only. I still do it.

  4. I don’t qualify to answer this whole survey, as someone neither diagnosed nor likely to be, but if I answer what I can, then the other comments will appear in my inbox. : )

    1. Both, but mostly lifelong, just evolving and finding their shape.
    2. In broadest terms, “learning” and “healing” and “connections” and “relating” are of interest to me.
    3. Alcohol doesn’t serve me at all well. I haven’t had so much as a sip of anything in several years. I used to like the taste of a good dark stout or crisp ale, but beer is not good for my body. I’d like to be able to drink a little wine eventually, at least on special occasions, and I’m working on cleansing and supporting my liver (what this has to do with not having been breastfed is a subject unto itself – in short, quite a lot). Meanwhile, my memories of drinking are of swift incapacitation – an intoxicated feeling from the first sip, prone to headache and other, more visible consequences the next day. I can also get a hungover feeling just from consuming sugar.
    4. I sit cross-legged in chairs, tuck my legs under me, kneel in them, sit on the arms – I don’t think of this as an ASD thing.
    5. Yes. “Flashbulb memories.” Lots of them. The more important a person or moment was to me, the more clearly I remember. And this is meaningful to me because, despite spending much of my life reading, my mental pictures have always been more like “pictures of words” and how I felt about their combinations, vs. visualizations of scenes.
    6. Yes. Not often, but in some cases quite pronouncedly, and with great affection.
    8. Yes, I have done things inefficiently most of my life. It actually seems to be getting better, however.

    1. Interesting you mentioned you can get a hangover feeling from sugar. I’ve read that if you drink a sugary mix with your alcohol (vodka and juice) as opposed to no mix/neutral mix like soda, you are more likely to have a worse hangover. I wonder if the alcohol helps ferment the sugar, causing more intoxication. Or do some of us have bodies more likely to ferment the sugar, causing the hangover effect?

  5. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Lifelong, with my main topics, vut my ‘sub-yopics’ are subject to change after a few years.

    Q2: Main interest:Drawing, painting, sub interest: weather of both earth and sun/space, bicycling, walking, and saving earth from humans.

    Q3: Alcohol has the effect of temporary removal of stresses, and I only have it at home at a time when I don’t need to “function”, as it wouldn’t be safe at all. I control my portions carefully.

    Q4: I do that too, even though I am tall.

    Q5: Yes I have this very distinctly!

    Q6: I hide this from others for the most part; but have this all the time and always have. You describe it perfectly: certain objects want to be touched. Also, along a similar mechanism of sorts in my brain, certain word sequences I hear ‘catch’ in my mind and stick, and I repeat them to myself indefinitely.

    Q7: Yes. I call it being stressed due to positive influence. Too many things to list do this to me, and I strictly avoid some of them as a result. My ability to understand verbal swings wildly from good to really bad, and I don’t necessarily know when it has dropped off. Yes, I stim when aroused although over the decades I have moderated it and sometimes ‘save it for later’.

    Q8: Yes. This can be terribly stressful for me and can and has caused enormous problems for me. But if I have time to script things out I am mostly all right.

    Q9: Yes!

    Q10: I did not wander off from school because I was able to ‘zone out’ most of the time, and stim. Now and all my life I leave when I feel I need to whether it is socially acceptable or appropriate or not. I do not go to social ‘events’.
    I have many stories of my different ‘exits’.

  6. 1. It varies a lot for me. Some last a very long time, others are extremely brief. Most are in-between – a few months or years. They usually fade over time, to the point where I’m not thinking about them constantly like I used to. But if I get back into it or something reminds me of it, the feeling of enjoyment will be just the same.

    2. My biggest one at the moment is probably autism. I generally spend up to several hours a day reading (mostly blogs and online articles) about it, as well as writing and generally thinking about it. I think autism is a really ideal topic for a special interest for an autistic person, because special interests (for me, anyway) become like a ‘lens’ through which the world makes more sense. And an autistic person learning about autism is very likely to get that feeling, because it actually *does* make everything clearer!
    The next biggest one would be gerbils. I spend a lot of time organising my gerbils’ cage, toys, food, arranging things, planning things, as well as just playing with them and watching them in their cage. I used to do more reading and research than I do nowadays, possibly because I’ve exhausted most of the resources out there about gerbils!
    Then I have a few ‘latent’ interests. Ones which I don’t actively engage in very much, but which are still very important to me and sometimes come bubbling back to the surface. Baking is a big one – I calculate formulas to make the simplest versions of things (I’m totally uninterested in eating the results). Another is the Chernobyl meltdown. That one came very suddenly when I read an article about it and got sucked into obsessive research for several days straight. Then it faded fairly quickly when I ran out of new information to find, but if I start thinking about it again I can easily get sucked back in. From childhood there’s horses, and also birdwatching (I still conveniently store most of the information I absorbed from years ago).

    3. The most I’ve ever drunk was a small bottle of a beer-strength vodka mixer. I didn’t notice any effect (I drank it quite slowly and ate at the same time).

    4. Yes! I need to feel pressure on my legs to be comfortable. I’m constantly rearranging myself, tucking my legs under me, crossing them over, and folding them up. I talked about this a bit more in a post I wrote about stimming:

    5. I’m not sure about this question. I do have some very vivid memories – most often of unpleasant or upsetting situations actually. I’m not sure about the meaning of “a-ha moment” in relation to a memory, though. Does it mean the memory is *of* an “a-ha moment”, or recalling the memory feelings like an “a-ha moment”?

    6. I used to do this a bit, but I don’t really do it anymore. I’m more likely to be attached to an object because of my own sentimental feeling towards it – because it’s connected with important or pleasant memories, because I like it’s appearance/functionality, because I’m used to it and take it for granted. When I was a kid we had a glass saucepan, and it got dropped and broken one day – and I cried inconsolably. Just because everything was *all wrong* if the pan was gone. I guess that’s more of a rigidity/routine thing than attributing emotion to the object.

    7. I don’t think so.

    8. I guess I do have trouble with it. But I compensate very well, by always carefully planning things. For example, when we’re having pizza for dinner and need to cook three different pizzas which all take different times and temperatures – it’s always me who’s doing calculations and writing notes about when we have to put each one in. If I was prevented from planning explicitly beforehand, I think I would definitely struggle.

    9. Not particularly. I do sometimes like to imagine myself living as a ‘hermit’, in the middle of a forest somewhere with a smallholding to sustain myself. But it’s only a vague fantasy, not as powerful or destructive as the question describes.

    10. No. I had (have!) pretty major separation anxiety, so I was far more likely to be glued to my parents’ side than to wander off. Nowadays I do sometimes leave (or want to leave) social occasions without telling anyone or saying goodbye. Usually because the reason I want to leave is that I’m tired and overstimulated and so the last thing I was is extra interaction before I go.

  7. 1. A bit of both, I think. I’ve grown out of certain childhood interests, but from about 14-15 years old, the interests have stayed at least to an extent. As you’ve said above, the more long-term interests tend to ebb and flow, although a lot of the time for me, that’s for external rather than internal reasons; obviously an impending new series of Doctor Who is more exciting than no impending new series of Doctor Who. 😛

    2. A lot of my special interests, particularly the short-term ones as a teenager but also some long-term now, can fit under the general umbrella of “bands”. Doctor Who is the other really big long-term one. I’ve also been thinking about whether or not I can consider feminism a special interest these days, but I’m not sure; I spend a lot of time thinking about and engaging with that stuff, but it’s more “this is something I feel strongly about and ugh isn’t the world terrible EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS” rather than “THIS IS A SPECIAL INTEREST AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS” to be honest. As for engagement, it tends to be a matter of “consume ALL the things”, so watching, listening, reading, Tumblr-ing, stuff like that.

    3. I really don’t like the taste of alcohol (the only thing I’ve found that is vaguely okay is blue WKD, which doesn’t really have all that much alcohol in it) and to be honest the whole culture kinda scares me, so these days I don’t drink at all when I’m at uni, and only occasionally when I’m at home (and that’s just because basically I’m still awful at saying “no thanks” to my parents). So I’m a bit useless as far as this question is concerned.

    4. I do this quite a bit (although not all the time – having said that, I’m sitting cross-legged on the bed right now…). I also tiptoe when I walk, and often sit with my feet still in that position on the floor. I think in my case it’s an autistic thing, but I do know a couple of non-autistic people who also sit cross-legged wherever possible, so…

    5. Yep, sometimes. Usually some memory from ages ago that I can’t really place in context, which is annoying for all parties concerned because I can’t remember the actual information we were looking for. A while ago a friend and I were trying to remember when David Tennant and Billie Piper’s appearance in The Day Of The Doctor was first confirmed, and my immediate reaction was “I was DEFINITELY in the back car” – this, as it turned out, was because we’d been to Milton Keynes for the day and I found out via Facebook on the way home, and that was the same day Series 7b started, so 30th March, so it was then. But it took a while to progress beyond “I was absolutely, categorically, DEFINITELY in the back of the car”. Now that I’ve given that example, I should point out that it’s a bit of an exception in that most of the time when this happens, it’s a memory from ages and ages and ages ago.

    6. Not usually. The main exception to this is objects that are, I guess, supposed to be seen as sentient beings, by which I mean teddy bears and similar. Although, thinking about it now, I sometimes attribute sentient-being-ness to cars, particularly our car. Occasionally also my laptop, but that generally takes the form of reading the fan getting louder as “it’s screaming at me” because it’s overloaded and warm, which as I’ve elaborated on in the past is The Worst Thing Ever.

    7. In terms of “arousal” in the narrower sense (i.e. sex) I can become more sensitive to unrelated input (sudden loud noises etc) but not to the point of overload; I think I stim, but quite subtly, essentially just “tiny hand fluttering”. In terms of “arousal” in the wider sense (i.e. “I am VERY EXCITED and a special interest is invariably to blame”), “positive overload” is much more likely, and just stimming, stimming everywhere!!!

    8. I plan out pretty much everything vaguely complex in advance. Sometimes I realise halfway through doing something (or doing some sort of regular thing) that doing it a different way makes more sense…. but then I just carry on as usual, for reasons I don’t really know.

    9. YES. SO MUCH. Everything’s so unpredictable and confusing and overwhelming and terrifying and seemingly inescapable. :/

    10. Not that I’m aware of.

    1. Just a further point for question 9, which I’ve just thought of because it’s literally happening right now. Outside of term time (i.e. when I’m not at uni), I do get pretty hermit-like and spend a lot of time hiding away in my room (especially in summer because Summer Is The Worst, but not exclusively) and I end up feeling horrendously lonely. Which is frustrating, because when peopleing does happen, my head normally wants to minimise it or escape from it and “just stop”, but when I do that, I end up feeling really rubbish. This is then compounded by the general-internalised-ableism thoughts about how I’m all weird and pathetic and awful and they’re right about how not being as able or willing to do peopleing is A Bad Thing, etc. So I guess really I don’t want to “just stop”, I want the world to be less terrifying and overwhelming so I don’t HAVE to hide away like that. 😦

      1. This really resonated for me. I forced myself to socialize constantly, starting in earnest when I was in university. I thought it was the only way to avoid being lonely forever, to never be alone. In fact, I kept up degrees of this attitude right up until April of this year, when I moved thousands of miles away from my social life and discovered that I was in no hurry to find one in my new home. Neither was my husband, who I believe is likely to be NT. I look back on the last fifteen or so years of my life and I think of them almost as a trauma from which I am finally starting to recover.

        I generally feel the same, that the world is a terrifying place, but I’m learning to find safe places, and people, in it. I’m learning to stop the merry-go-round whenever and wherever I can. Bowing out of, or distancing myself from, what so many people call the ‘real world’ is incredibly empowering. And if the worst happens and I’m left with absolutely no one to love me, to take care of me, I’ll deal with it. In the meantime, I’m just going to do what makes me feel like me as much as I possibly can.

  8. 1. I have experienced both forms, all of my interests begin obsessively and then gradually taper down. Most stay with me as interests but vary in the intensity in which I experience them.
    2. I read, do word puzzles, draw, listen to music, watch Star Trek shows daily. Rocks, I obsessively need to collect rocks and will make special trips to the shore just to collect rocks. Others interests include philosophy, religious studies ( I am an atheist but am fascinated by the belief systems of others), neurology, natural sciences, logic, geometry, all of which I have studied to great extent on my own. Generally, when I get interested in something , I will read everything in regards to it I can get my hands on until I feel satisfied.
    3. Alcohol is not my friend. I do enjoy a glass or two of wine but if I overindulge slightly I feel like someone has beaten me with a baseball bat, my skin hurts.
    4. I do not sit still unless I am meditating. Bedtime is constant tossing and turning and I never seem to stay in one place for long even after I fall asleep. So I’ve been told.
    5. I can recall most events as if watching a movie. Feelings from past traumas are as intense today as they were when they happened, which causes me great distress. How can you let go of something when it feels like it just happened?
    6. I have a sense that inanimate objects have gender, like my house plants, and therefore have feelings and needs. I always touch things that appear to be furry or fuzzy, smell things I haven’t encountered before and strangely, I sometimes have the urge to lick the rocks that I collect.
    7. I sometimes experience what I call “cocaine brain” which is how I imagine it to be like on cocaine ( although I have never done cocaine) where I am ultra- hyper, unable to sit or stand still, actually vibrating and babbling incessantly. My skin gets super sensitive and the next day I feel exhausted. I’m not even sure this is autism related so if anyone else experiences this, I would be eager to know it.
    8. I plan things carefully but still seem to drop the ball at some point. Then I spend hours berating myself for not thinking of that one step I somehow forgot.
    9. I go ‘hermitty’ all the time where I stay home alone, not answering the phone or door. Everyday I fantasize about moving to remote locations where I never have to hear traffic again.
    10. I could walk for hours in the woods or on the beach and try to get to get to at least one of these locations daily. I also like to explore any new surroundings I find myself in whether it’s a house, shop or location. Sometimes I tell people when I go, sometimes not. I wander away mentally all the time and am often found looking off into space, completely oblivious to what’s happening around me.

    1. I get “cocaine brain” (great term!) too, at least to an extent. This is kinda what I meant by “I’m very excited and a special interest is invariably to blame” above. “Actually vibrating (or at least that’s how it feels) happens to me during this, and also during shutdowns and meltdowns. Great to hear it’s not just me!!

  9. 1. some obsessions ebb and flow while others have stayed around. I am particularly fascinated with marriage right now because I am almost done with my first year of it. I wonder how other couples act and I think it weirds people out.

    2. I love to read and work out. I can get very involved when I found a new way to engage with reading, like a new app chock full of suggestions or a new workout to conquer. I like getting involved in books and their lives and stories.

    3.Alchohol first makes me sleepy, but if I stay awake I become less aspie and more typical which is really nice. I don’t particularly like to drink a lot because I feel less control and more dizzy and loose, which makes me anxious do to the lack of control over my body and actions and feelings. I like to stay very controlled and tight so any excessive display of emotion or desire stresses me out.

    4. The sitting thing is very normal for me. I have a hard time sitting up straight when I prefer to have one knee curled up or sitting curled on my side. I have had some back problems so I have had to work on sitting straight but I love curling up on the floor and I would love to have a house where there is just a room that is soft with blankets and pillows that allows me to curl up.

    5. Particularly trying times bring a lot of memories. One summer, I worked at a camp and I can still recall smells of the kitchen, what I used to smell like, what the food tasted like, simply from seeing a friend’s picture of that camp. It is very vivid and sometimes difficult.

    6. Well I actually still have stuffed animals and I spend time with them like they were people. I don’t take them out of my home but sometimes I take them on trips when I go home. I don’t take them hardly anywhere, just when I am by myself or with my close family. I feel like if i lost them, it would be like losing family.

    7. I just don’t like feeling emotion because I don’t know how to handle it. I tend to try and ignore it and I get uncomfortable when those feelings come up.

    8. I do have difficulty sequencing and my husband has to help me with complicated meals. I have to do lots of rehearsing for new classes so ensure I understand what the syllabus is asking of me.

    9. I definitely want to just stop. I have these recurring dreams where I will be in a undesirable situation and I will just run away and start flying. I really wish we could do that in real life.

    10. I did not wander. More often than not, I am afraid to go anywhere because of the processing required to deal with possible strangers or unknown situations.

  10. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Music is an overarching theme of my life, an obsession, though subject to change. As a child (I am 27 now), I was fixated with the Dictionary, Suburban (and to a lesser extent World Maps), Classical Music, Number Plates, Car Makes and Models, Dog Breeds and at one stage, a Calorie Counting Book.

    Q2: Currently undertaking a degree in the field. I anticipate that over the next few years I will develop musical skills further and eventually undertake a Masters in Music Therapy,

    Q3: Don’t drink.

    Q4: Only on the sofa at home if I am relaxed.

    Q5: First rock concert I went to.

    Q6: No

    Q7: Bright lights occasionally, people walking up to me/calling out unexpectedly when I’m in deep thought, being in an unfamiliar social situation (I can’t think straight, words come out incorrectly OR I start speaking in a formal manner, working in groups, being watched performing a task irks me. Occasionally I stim (cross and/or wring my hands and fingers or simply walk away from the situation to calm down. As a child, I used to laugh nervously.

    Q8: Occasionally, usually under stress. For technical tasks, I always need instructions.

    Q9: As a child, I would fantasise about jumping over things (powerlines, houses, high rise name it!!). As an adult, I fantasise jumping on a plane, landing in an obscure town, putting on an amazing rock concert and promptly leaving (without the hassle of fans trying to strike up boring small talk).

    Q10: I don’t have the luxury. I do take holidays alone at times, catch a gig, take a nice stroll somewhere beautiful, go ocean swimming.. Thats how I recharge.

  11. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Life long, but I do rotate thru my favorites. Photography, gardening, cars, fiber art/drawing. I will tend to dive full speed into new topics. In the old days that would mean hours at the library renting books or buying whole libraries on a topic from the bookstore. Thank goodness for the internet.

    Q2: For researching, the internet has been a godsend for my pocket book. You can do a ton of research and not spend a lot of money.

    But I have a hard time letting go of what I have collected. To help use things, I will start new projects and also gift “supplies” to people. I am sure I would be considered a “bad” horder if my stuff wasn’t as organized/categorized as it is.

    Q3: Alcohol affects me greatly. I become more chatty and relaxed in larger groups of people. I really should not drink, but it helps settle my social anxiety.

    Q4: i don’t sit still. I cross legs, uncross. sleep fetal positioned up and will wake up in pain and have to stretch out body parts.

    Q5: yes.

    Q6: no.

    Q7: I become over-stimulated with any intimate interaction. I don’t like to be touched lightly, but don’t mind touching my partner in that fashion. Mostly I don’t like to be touched at all. it takes a great amount of challenge to not shrink from my partners touch or kids touch. I realize this probably affected my kids poorly as they don’t seek hugs. after sex i can’t wait to stop being touched. yes i stim when aroused.

    Q8: yes

    Q9: no

    Q10: yes. I would go for walks or bike rides. I try to tell my spouse when I am leaving now as it bothers him when i don’t.

  12. anonymous answers:

    Q1: In my experience, it’s persistent over many years, but is replaced by something else after an extended time. Within main topics, it shifts. So, while my interest in science fiction has been around for twenty years, my fascination in certain TV series or books will shift regularly. Right now I’m big on Battlestar Galactica. Next week it might be something else.

    Q2: Currently: many things related to Paganism – religions – the ancient history of Ireland and Britain – Irish culture – science fiction. I spend maybe 30% of my time on these interests, which is quite a lot when you take out day-to-day activities etc.

    Q3: Very strong effect. My executive function gets less and less good the more I drink. I lose track of time, can’t plan, etc. I don’t do a lot of stimming, but it gets less with more alcohol.

    Q4: Yes, but it’s mainly because I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Restless Legs Syndrome. I think it’s more about those, anyway.

    Q5: Yes. Whereas most of my memories are more vague, and I forget a lot of things/events/

    Q6: Yes, I do that a bit. Partly this is because I’m an animist. But maybe I’m an animist because I have Asperger’s. That’s a tricky one!

    Q7: I don’t know how to answer this, so I won’t try.

    Q8: Yes. Totally impossible for me.

    Q9: No, but I am very avoidant, and will spend days in bed avoiding things I need to do. I guess there’s a bit of ‘stopping’ there.

    Q10: Occasionally. I’m more likely to seek comfort from someone I trust, though.

  13. anonymous answers:

    Q1: My interests vary both in topic and intensity, although there are a few consistent ones, such as language, and things that make the world better.

    Q2: Because I don’t have a full time job I am indulging in Star Trek (dvd’s), Harry Potter and Discworld (books). They fill most of my days when I don’t work. I’m on the internet only 2 hours/day and I spend most of that on Twitter, mostly related to feminism and autism.

    Q3: I don’t like the taste of alcohol, so I don’t drink. When I did, I didn’t notice much of it, except a dullness of the senses.

    Q4: I always sit on chairs all crossed-up. Sitting ‘normally’ feels like I’m at work.

    Q5: In general I don’t do memories very well.

    Q6: I’m not sure I really do that, but I do always talk to things and speak about things as if they are alive. Like, when something falls on the ground I say it prefers to lie there. Or I’d ask where the pans live, when I want to know what cupboard they’re in. But it’s not as if I really believe they are alive of have feelings.

    Q7: I don’t get aroused (sexually) easily, that requires all of my attention.

    Q8: Yes, I need to work out the order in advancr. With recipes I sometimes end up doing them in a different order, and that always goes wrong.

    Q9: If you consider suicide stopping, then yes.

    Q10: I don’t think I did, I only remember this one time when I was accused of wandering, when I was in fact the one who lingered, looking at something, as my parents walked on.

    1. If the person who posted these is reading, please know that your response to question nine briefly stopped my heart. The rest of your answers seemed okay; I hope you are.

  14. anonymous answers:

    Q1: some are persistant (can’t say anything about life-long at htis time), but most are changing or more often recurring, e.g. bouts of fascination for a while every few months/years.

    Q2: Whenever I watch a TV show or a movie which really touches something inside me I kind of get inside that fictional universe a little too much. Sometimes I spend hours each day reading fanfiction or discussions (yesterday I spend half the day researching Elvish letters …). My special interests are mostly related to fictional worlds or natural stuff, e.g. reading tons of material on herbs, oils, or medical topics.

    Q3: It makes me tired, but reduces the fight-or-flight responses to crowds, making me less hostile when I’m in a social situation I don’t want to be in. Slows down my brain a little, I guess, so less being overwhelmed by my own trains of thoughts, resulting in less stimming, I believe.

    Q4: Right now I’m sitting in my desk chair with crossed legs. I hate chairs.

    Q5: Not sure. Mostly related to memories of movie scenes and experiencing them more clearly than “normal” memories. Very weird stuff.

    Q6: Not sure. Sometimes I feel like things don’t want to cooperate and the world is out to get me, but I don’t believe I really attribute feelings to objects.

    Q7: Yes. Both for “personal” and in the sense of being e.g. angry or otherwise emotional.

    Q8: Somehwat.

    Q9: Hits the nail on the head. I want to go and live in a hut in the wood, or just take a backpack and keep walking. And I thought I just watch to many movies including these things …

    Q10: Not always physically, but I tend to withdraw emotionally, retreat to my own world, or just stare at a wall. And I need time alone, so in situations of sensory overload I either tell people to get out of the room, or say that I’m going to bed and then run off.

  15. anonymous answers:

    Q1: persistent over many years

    Q2: Civil War history, dogs, gardening, writing–I have written two novels set in CW and have researched it for years. I’m a passionate dog owner/rescuer. I garden all summer and have read extensively on subject. I work in a gharden center as a consultant/merchandiser. I have been published and have a literary agent. I stick with interests for years until I run out of avenues to explore.

    Q3: I don’t drink except maybe one wine cooler a year or so, usually in the summer. It is relaxing and makes me sleepy. Takes the edge off the physical affects my anxieties–literally helps my neck and shoulder muscles to loosen.

    Q4: yes. I sit in the corner of my couch with my legs to the side, or in my recliner with one leg folded under. Must have a blanket, even in summer.

    Q5: yes–several. I have a memory of being about 5 years old and my mom had just cleaned the bathroom with spic-n-span and she had the windows open. It was springtime, and the air was still crisp and cool and fresh, and I can see vividly the window curtains and shower curtain blowing in with the breeze, hear the plastic crinkling, the orange ’70’s flower decor bright and cheerful against the gray porcelain. The chemical smell of the spic-n-span filled my senses in an intoxicating way, combined with the cool, fresh air. It is a very powerful memory, and somehow a very emotional one for me.

    Q6: I remember feeling this way about certain toys, long before the Disney movie Toy Story gave us personified toys. The song by The Police “we are spirits in the material world” in my mind meant that each of my toys had a consciousness, and it made me want to be kinder to my dolls and stuffed animals. I felt they had personalities and stories within themselves and sometimes I had a sense of their history as I played with them. I’m pretty sure this is why I like to write as an adult, to tell stories I sense, intuitively. Some come to me in dreams and some characters just pour through me as though they were real people who want me to tell their story.

    Q7: interesting. Yes, It is so overwhelming it is hard for me to abandon myself to completion with my husband. It is easier for me to focus on what helps him while I sort of “check out” of my own sensations and almost go “out of body”. I’ve never had trauma in this part of my life, just difficulty processing the over-stimulation.

    Q8: YES!! I used to work as a prep cook for a fast paced restaurant, and one recipe had about 30 ingredients that involved chopping, or shredding, or weighing, or mixing large amounts of vegetables. The task was gargantuan, and the whole 4×6 steel table would be covered in buckets, measuring cups, cans, ladles, while I paced and panicked about which to do next and what I might have forgotten. I still have nightmares about things like this. I still dream that I am in my old high school and I have to remember where my locker is, and what the combination is, and which books I need and what my schedule is, and which room to report to. In both cases, I refer to written lists, whether a recipe, or a written schedule, to ground me and to stop the panic attack.

    Q9: no, not so much as “escape” or “going home”. Maybe that’s a form of the same idea.

    Q10: I was given a lot of space as a child (might have been neglect) so I was able to find escape without wandering. As a young adult, though, I had a few moments of panic so severe that I did take off without a clue of distance or time or destination. Walking helped me regain my emotional bearings and clear my head. I think there is a physical component to it–releasing endorphins with exercise. It relieved my stress and anxiety.

  16. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Depends, really. For example, I got into dogs when I was nine years old and it has been a favourite subject ever since. However, the degree of interest varies and what topic varies as well. It was originally, the different dog breeds for many years, then switched to specific dog sports, and then to dog breed history. Usually my interests persist to either until I find something new or more typically, I have exhausted my resources and can’t find anything new on the topic.

    Q2: Usually, I have two or three with ‘one to rule them all’ that takes up the majority of my spare time. Currently, it’s owls and I take a few hours every morning to read about the different species, look at photos, etc. However, in high school, my special interest was drawing and I would literally spend 7+ hours drawing.

    Q3: I don’t drink alcohol.

    Q4: I’m always crossed-legged. Any other time, I’m standing or sleeping. I’m usually folded in some way. Cross-legged, arms crossed, or sitting on one hand. I’m almost always sitting on one hand or both sometimes.

    Q5: Yes, I tend to have a rather good memory.

    Q6: Yes, especially as a child. I often scolded the other kids in school if they mistreated certain objects, usually books. “How do you think the book felt when you…?” Then I usually got them to apologize.

    Q7: I’m not sure, but I know I do stim when aroused.

    Q8: Yes, usually I get overwhelmed if there’s more than one or two steps to something. Written lists can help sometimes. At work, if I’m given a command while I’m executing a command already, I tend to drop the first order and start the second one immediately. Luckily, my boss has learned to say “After you’re done with…” which helps a lot.

    Q9: In some ways, yes. My main childhood fantasy was being deaf because sound upset me so much. I still fantasize about this as an adult and I do often share the fantasy of leaving to the social system.

    Q10: Yes, though I never wandered off in school–I was always the good girl that followed the rules no matter what. But often in stores I would wander away to look at the toys whenever I was getting stressed since it made me feel better. I still wander off, usually to find someplace quieter when I feel myself overloading.

    1. I often fantasize about being deaf and have actually thought of poking something sharp into my ears to bring this about. Not that I ever would, but I do think about it.

  17. 1) I would say both, I have had interests that have waxed and waned over the years. I have had them suddenly end as well.
    2) Sleep is my special interest….just kidding. I have had a fixation on daily weather and weather patterns all my life. I have an interest in video games that has at times been extremely unhealthy but has moderated over the years. I would say it has become more of a routine than an interest at this point. I like to read and collect information tons. I’m currently interested in self improvement/human potential.
    3)I loathe alcohol yet I keep trying to drink and enjoy it sporadically for some reason. I get a brief period of loss of anxiety followed by insomnia followed by a hangover, followed by 48-72 hours of moodiness and yuckiness. Unless I eat a lot of food with the drink, even 1 beer or glass of wine will trigger the yuckiness for several days. I have tried having a drink nightly to attempt to build a tolerance to moderate social drinking, it just makes the moodiness worse. Sometimes I feel the need to let go of anxiety and pressure so much that I will have some drinks knowing the consequences. All in all I would say that I probabaly average about only 15 alcoholic beverages a year.
    4) Yes I sit all weird in chairs and I cross one leg behind the other while standing too.
    5)I didn’t know most memories were a thought! When i remember something i can usually place myself back in that place/situation almost as if I was there.
    6) I touch objects for my own comfort and to gain my bearings, I often lose my sense of self and the object reassures me that I am there.
    7) I am adverse to soft touch so this causes issues in my life. I also start to feel like my body temp is 200F. My eyes water and become sensitive when I see someone attractive.
    8)Yeah, I like to have a plan and the basic steps spelled and laid out for me or my first attempt will be a mess. I will eventually adapt and apply my own routine and improve on it over time.
    9) Quite the opposite, I feel as if I am currently detached from society and I dream of engaging more.
    10) I did this as a child and teenager very often. I would spend my entire lunch break skipping aimlessly. I go into my own little world when this happens, its like dreaming awake. I completely eloped on a shopping trip at age 2 and was found in a mall. Apparantly I had the presence of mind to find a cop. I have no memory of this. If I am in a deeply emotional state, I can completely lose track of where I am and whats in front of me. This has caused injury and risk on occasion. The degree of emotion when I walk or wander correlates to my level of awareness of my environment.

  18. anonymous answers:

    Q1: All of the above?

    I have never lost my persistent fascination with nature, natural settings, and all things miniature (i’m working on a photo series of tiny plants growing through cracks in concrete, stone walls, etc. right now). My fascination with dance has lasted well over half my life. But my once-all-consuming interests in Japanese and world religions are entirely over at this point.

    Q2: Currently:

    Nature/natural settings/”being out in nature”/nature photography/etc.: Daily or almost daily, though I generally only go out to photograph about once per week.

    Literature, composition and rhetoric (also my job): Daily. This has become my work because it is a persistent special interest.

    Dance (ballet/figure skating): 3-4 times per week, depending on my schedule and the ballet studio’s and ice rink’s schedules.

    Q3: I don’t know that it has any effect on my executive function, which seems equally poor whether I’m drunk or sober. I stim considerably less when I’m drunk.

    Mostly, alcohol = insomnia for me, no matter what time of day I drink.

    Q4: I do! My family makes jokes about me being part cat.

    Q5: I have several of these that I can recollect instantaneously, including what I’m pretty sure is my first (chronologically) memory, and a great many others I can “fall into” with a moment’s focus and introspection.

    Q6: As a child, I found it impossible to take my mother’s advice to hit a pillow when I was angry, because it seemed like a terrible injustice to the pillow: first, what did it ever do to me to deserve to be hit, and second, if I hit it wouldn’t it be angry with me?

    Every place I have ever lived has a distinctive “personality” in my mind, as do most of our household objects. Most of what my husband would call my “weird impulse buys” are items I ran across while shopping and immediately felt like I must adopt or they would wither away emotionally like those animals in the ASPCA commercials. (I have managed to restrain my habit of adopting actual cats in this manner, although it’s tough.) But I don’t know if I’ve ever tried to explain it to anyone in this fashion – or rather, I have not explained it to anyone in this fashion for many years, not since my parents scolded that “nonsense” out of me when I was very young.

    Q7: Yes, yes, and yes. I hit tactile overload very easily, which isn’t a great thing when trying to have sexytimes; my husband and I have found that “easing” into touching helps me relax and avoid getting too itchy or ticklish to handle touch. I’ve basically given up on trying to talk at all while sexually aroused, and I stim impressively in ways that probably can’t be described without turning this into an X-rated answer.

    Q8: I tend to approach any unfamiliar task in a very roundabout, inefficient way. For many years (especially before my autism diagnosis at age 27), my anxiety over being “inefficient” was so great that I would often balk at doing new things altogether. Since the diagnosis, I’ve learned that this is not all that unusual in ACs, and I’ve worked on giving myself the freedom to do it inefficiently and roundabout the first or second time in order to develop a “system”. Once I have a system and can do a task in the same way every time, I can fly through it.

    Q9: When I was ten years old, I told everyone my dream home/job was to live in a four-room log cabin (I drew floor plans) in the woods, chop my own wood, grow my own food, and write from my attic office where I would stay connected to editors and publishers via fax machine (this was pre-Internet). I grew up on a farm with wood heat in the house and so probably had the skills to do this, but the point of the fantasy was as much about getting away from the rest of the world, a la Thoreau, as it was actually supporting myself. (I was told this was wildly unrealistic and/or impossible, but my current life is not that different from that fantasy.)

    Now, I often wish time would just stop for everyone but me for a while. I often imagine what it’d be like to wake up as the only human being on the planet, for instance.

    Q10: I didn’t wander much as a child, but I did “disappear” a few times in kindergarten and first grade, hiding in supply closets or cloakrooms in order to get away from everyone and everything (all the sensory “noise”) for a while. I don’t remember why I stopped – I imagine I got in some pretty serious trouble for it – but I sometimes wish it had been understood then as a need to get away and refocus, rather than as willful misbehavior.

    Now, I’ll abruptly remove myself from busy social events if I’m getting overloaded, rather than risk a meltdown or shutdown in public. My husband and I have been working on learning a few basic ASL signs so I can tell him where I’m going and why (e.g., “car,” “can’t think”). Otherwise, for me to just “disappear” from a setting is very disconcerting to him.

  19. 1)For the most part life long although some of my interests do go into a period of dormancy before waking up again fill force.
    2)Writing, reading, ballet, jewellery, and a few more transient ones like genealogy.
    3)I rarely drink.
    4) My knees are damaged so I can’t sit funny but if I am in a comfy arm chair I like to sit with my feet beside me and hold one of my feet.
    5) Yes I have some very clear memories that are vivid beyond belief. They involve strong feelings but also other strong sensory input.
    6)Maybe a little. Especially if I am about to throw it out.
    7)If I am aroused I can’t focus on much else but I don’t think that that is autism related as such.
    9)I have a fantasy that could be equated to stopping in a sense but it is more complicated.
    10)No I was too frightened to wander.

      1. Also music both as a special interest and as a stim. Sometimes I will listen to the same song thirty times in a row. Music can hold my feelings and memories and I almost always listen to music while I write. I us it as a way to remember details of the things that I am working on.

  20. 1. My special interests come and go, although big thematic ones that can ‘hold’ a lot of different focuses within them last longest, as do ones related to stims (see: reading). Languages are a consistent interest and one I’ve had ever since I encountered Japanese and taught myself the basics as a teenager. I think language-learning is actually stim-like (for instance, every evening I can do a few sections of DuoLingo or read two pages of a textbook or make sure all of my ‘stim’/pleasure reading is in my target language). It’s also very definite; I can see my progress from day to day as I understand more and more. And it’s hard for someone to look at me (or for me to look at myself) and think “Learning languages is so useless,” even though the way I learn them–without any kind of goal other than the act of learning–*is* rather useless…

    Feminist, sexism, racism, and, in general, ethical behavior and ideas are a special interest. I think again this goes back to the ASD desire to know the ‘right’ way to do, the right way to be, since my own internal sense of self is weak and needs external guidance, reassurance, and support. I go through ‘purges’ where I get rid of everything I own that betrays an ethical way of being I’m currently invested in (toss out all the movies I own staring Gary Oldman when he decides to reveal himself as a racist goober, for instance, or all of Lovecraft when I decide I can’t handle his racism).

    Anything I’m afraid of is a special interest. I’ve done ticks, tarot, sex…anything to understand something.

    2. Also see 1. I can engage in special interests to a self-destructive scale (for instance, when I was a teenager, I bought *every comic book* that came out each month, just about, and acquired 20+ tarot decks during my tarot phase). I special interested in a person hard enough (or lost my boundaries in my desire to please her and to take on her qualities) we got married when I really wasn’t ready. I often want to leave work to grapple with my special interests, and tend to struggle with self-aggrandizing fantasies where I impractically imagine becoming *really good* at my special interest of the moment and it becomes my work.

    3. I could easily love alcohol, since I discovered rum and cider, both of which taste great to me. When I’m a little buzzed, I talk more quickly and am effortlessly gregarious. Likely to the point where I’m irritating to other people, or they think I’m acting silly. I don’t drink often, because while I like the more relaxed feeling of being buzzed, I feel like I could easily go very naive ingenue or irritatingly enthusiastic person when tipsy. Also, I don’t want to make resorting to alcohol a habitual shortcut to breaking down my perception of my internal barriers.

    4. I asked this question, so clearly I am guilty as charged. As I said in comments, “I can’t keep my feet upright for the life of me. The more down and tired I am, the more I curl toes in or turn a foot sideways as I stand. (And you should see me on an airplane. I can achieve snail-like levels of contortion in order to curl up in a seat and cover myself with a coat or blanket.) I’ve always read books contorted in a chair, as well. And I wear hiking boots if I can, instead of ‘normal’ shoes, because they make my feet feel ‘firmer’ and give them more pressure.” If I do sit with my feet on the floor, I have to shift constantly or cross and uncross my legs often.

    5. I feel like most of my memories, if I go looking for them, are very clear, though not all of them include taste, smell, and/or feel. I have memories from childhood that are as clear as photographs, almost like video game scenes, in a way. I can move around in them and see the details and remember how I felt at the time. I remember how all the houses I’ve lived in were laid out. Generally my memory is extremely specific and visual, though, to my dismay, I often only have a vague sense of *other people* in my memories. I know they were there, I know what they were doing, but, unlike my non-people surroundings in these memories, I have to work to remember exactly where they were, what their facial expressions were, etc. I have all kinds of childhood memories, some of them involving interacting with other children or my siblings, but few good clear memories of those other children (including my siblings), though it’s not that I don’t *remember* them. It makes me feel guilty, as though they weren’t important enough to me to remember (while which shop we were walking by, for instance, *was*). I wonder sometimes if this discrepancy was part of what made breaking up so hard for me. I have wonderful memories of travel with my ex, and many of those memories (unsurprisingly!) involve her. But when she’s not around with me, her place in those memories grows indistinct and empty, and I’m left with a sense of–loneliness, even in the past, when we were together. And then I want her around, want to keep contact with her, so those memories stay filled. I think about that a lot, the feeling that I don’t own those memories or have a right to them without her permission and her presence…or that the memories are ‘wrong’ and reveal my difference without her nearby to be a constant reminder of what she must have been like in those memories.

    6. No. *Unless* the objects are shaped like living things. I have a godawful time getting rid of old stuffed animals and My Little Ponies and will assign stuffed animals (in particular) feelings. I had a soft toy that I took around in 4th grade, at school, to reassure me. I’m pretty sure I would talk to it, since I will talk to *anything,* from keyboards to pencils (not as though I expect them to talk back, just comments on ‘their’ behavior, like ‘Oh, come on, quit falling off the desk.’) Oh, and I used to have a problem throwing any candy that was shaped like a person or animal. I wouldn’t eat those, either. I’d just save them. I don’t remember it being a deliberate “This candy has an identity and feelings” thing, but I do know I would save, say, a fish-shaped chocolate for *years* as a kid. I found a box of petrified candy recently, and tossed it all out.

    …Okay, so it looks like I lied. It looks like I do assign feelings to objects.

    7. This one’s tricky. I’d say yes. I am sexually still quite inexperienced and have a very hard time feeling comfortable, connected, unstilted, and like I have the first idea in hell what I want, in sexual/romantic encounters. Being turned on makes me angry and frustrated, because I don’t know what to *do* about it. I mean, technically, yes, I know exactly what to do about it, but I have a hard time communicating to my partner much beyond “Help, I am turned on but I might slap you if you touch me because being turned on is raw-nerve-making intense and I’m desperately afraid I will Fail at Sex.”

    8. I do everything in the wrong order. Cooking is hilarious, in an ‘oops, didn’t see that step! Time to balance four measuring cups on my nose and chop asparagus with my toes while I try to get everything done in time to fit it in.’ I’m also very afraid of doing ‘adult’ tasks (job searching, home buying, moving) because I ‘know’ I’ll do things in an absurd order and people will look at me later and go “Why did you do it like *that*?”

    9. I asked this question, and my answer is still yes. This week I’m fantasizing about it intensely because I feel like if I just had six months to work up a better daily routine and way of thinking about myself maybe I could change my life enough to not feel like a constant self-embarrassment.

    10. I–probably do. I will certainly go upstairs to read if a family gathering wears me out. At work, since my office space is made up of a number of small open areas, I will wander from one to the other, with my laptop. I have an office but I’m never in it. I also ‘wander’ in tasks. Unless I can switch tasks regularly I will freeze on any one particular task. Sometimes I have to both change physical location and change task to unfreeze. And if I’m hyper-distressed, I will go out for a walk. Sometimes I fantasize about driving off into the sunset, but I haven’t tried that yet!

  21. Number 10 struck a chord with me. I used to ‘run away’, but it was mostly for attention, or because I was overwhelmed, and I always went to the same place so no one really worried about me – to my chagrin. I never had a good sense of direction and was – am – very fearful – so I restrained a lot of my wandering to my parents’ property, which was, as it happened, very large. I was prone to disappearing for hours, to a quiet room, to a bathroom, to the corner of a flat roof, to some safe enclosed space, and as a teenager I learned to find this type of space no matter where I had to go with my family.

    The other thing I did, which only strikes me as perhaps unusual now, is I used to mentally disappear. I recall vividly lying on the couch in the room my Mum tended to use, but which didn’t have the TV so did not get nearly as much traffic as the family room, and I lay there completely still for a couple of hours, not responding to anyone, not even blinking all that much, feeling almost drugged by my involvement in the world playing inside my head. I was somewhere else, definitely, for that period of time. And that happened a lot. I can stand still at the bathroom sink for an hour-and-a-half, when I was meant to just finish brushing my teeth, and I’m not really there. I understand now that this was – is – my selective mutism; when I was young, it was nearly impossible to pull me back from this other world until I was ready. Everyone sees me as so talkative because when i don’t want to talk, and that happens frequently, I’m just not there.

  22. (note: since the last time I commented on this blog I have gotten a professional diagnosis :D)

    1. I thought about this for a while and came to the conclusion that it is sort of a mixture, I have had some special interests that have come and gone completely or just in intensity, but more that…my interest will grow and expand upon themselves, and a larger special interest that I’ve had since I was young will break off into many subsets and sometimes merge.

    2. Special interests include : literary analysis, foreign languages, Chinese language, Chinese culture/history, Chinese media, Japanese media, Japanese cultural psychology, Japanese theories of child development, study abroad, my favorite books/TV shows/manga, filmmaking – particularly video editing, vidding, media studies, media diversity, & coin collecting (this comes in waves cause I’ve never been really able to “settle” myself into it). At school I am studying media studies, Asian studies, & filmmaking, so those under those umbrellas are my most prominent interests. Like I said a lot of these sort of cross over into each other, too. Such as a literary analysis of my favorite manga by studying Japanese cultural psychology, particularly Japanese theories of child development, and the impact of culture on media.

    3. I am not 21 yet, and I’ve only had a little sip of wine when I was in China, so we shall see in the future I guess!

    4. I definitely sit in all manner of odd positions of my legs at my desk chair, sometimes cross legged, but to describe every position, I couldn’t begin…

    5. I have certain smells, feelings of the atmosphere, etc. that will trigger memories for me.

    6. I definitely remember having this pretty intensely when I was younger (5 – 10ish?) but not recently. This might be because I was “broken of” any object attachment by my contamination OCD, or it could just be I naturally evolved away from it.

    7. Decline to answer (mostly cause I have no idea).

    8. I have so much trouble with not being able to do so many things without explicitly being told what to do…and I don’t know that I’d ever do a task drastically out of order but I always feel overwhelmed by something with many steps involved, even familiar things. It’s sort of two extremes though…cause I’ll have a lot of trouble with new, small tasks but eventually adapt to being able to do individual small and medium tasks without a problem…but then when I have larger tasks with many, many tasks making it up (which in my case, I very specifically mean just getting through a day of life) then I am overwhelmed again and need everything spelled out for me in order to be productive and healthy.

    9. Nope. Anything slightly relatable…I would like to imagine myself running and jumping and moving over things with unconscionable fluidity ever since I was a kid, which is probably why I became a bit obsessed with parkour when I discovered it. But that never went anywhere.

    10. I don’t know, I remember being deathly afraid to go out in my own backyard by myself for a very long time as a young child, so I definitely didn’t wander away from my home. I don’t know if I might have wandered a little when out in public but I don’t feel like a really did. I often get lost in my own thoughts though and my family will wander away from me without my noticing! I think sometimes I might “wander” off a little (maybe find an open area to “wander back and forth i.e. pace” a little) when I want to get away from a situation but see, no one has ever really commented on many of my later realized to be autistic behaviors, so it’s hard for me to know what is what!

  23. 1 AND number 2: My fascination with certain topics usually varies depending on the topic and time, however, I have a few lifelong interests ( that always come back) that are continually on my mind like music ( all genres and keeping up to date with the newest selections), actresses/ actors in oldies and their lives, decorating and broadway musicals and personality studies…WITHIN that however, sometimes the smaller details of the interest are more prominent than others. For instance, my obsessions of which musicals change for certain ones about every five years. In my early twenties it was Singing in the Rain and I collected and knew everything about everyone in that show. Currently it is the Broadway Musical version of Wicked. I can really relate to Elphaba and have the witchy theme in my living room. For interests that fluctuate its stuff like holistic health, researching certain health conditions, Phychology, Sociology ( A current interest is Aspergers/ Autism and nuerodiversity – this has lasted since my sons diagnosis 6 years ago. Since this also coincides with my life long interests in the study of personality it is probably lasting longer or could be lifelong.) I also have been completely organic and other such things until I balance out again or get bored with the topic (including admittedly with some of the friends during the pursuit as I have “been there/ done that”) Oh and reading is always relevant to me.But what types of things I read varies. The one standard is romances as I find it intriguing how someone could write about it because I prefer to write non fiction. I also LOVE my non fiction books but find I need the fluffy read of romances to balance it out or I tend on the too serious side. I read about everything and often know more than my doctor!

    3.Oh I can’t get drunk – it takes my filter completely off and I need that filter to function. I get mean and grouchy because of all the sensory overload and WAY more blunt. Its just not healthy. Plus my body feels weird and my legs go immediately squishy so I have weird reactions.

    4. YES! I could relate to Cynthias post a lot!

    5. (Do you have some very specific memories? Such as “ah-ha!” moments that you can draw up much more clearly than most memories, involving not only a picture but feelings, perhaps sounds and smells etc. as well and the image is VERY clear whereas most memories are a thought.)~ YES!!!! I can feel all the senses of a sudden jolted memory sometimes almost like I am there, otherwise my memory sucks- it always takes me off guard when it happens and probably contributes to why I am nostalgic sometimes.

    6. Yup. I talk and gently run my hands over the trees or my plants in passing sometimes…not in a creepy way but more in a Pocahontas way – LOL. I honestly always thought it came from my native roots and spirituality. However, in stores I do have to touch cozy blankets or fresh smooth books. My stuffies also had personalities growing up and I cried if any of them were alone.

    7. I would actually answer the same as anonymous who said “interesting. Yes, It is so overwhelming it is hard for me to abandon myself to completion with my husband. It is easier for me to focus on what helps him while I sort of “check out” of my own sensations and almost go “out of body”. I’ve never had trauma in this part of my life, just difficulty processing the over-stimulation.” That is me too. I do enjoy our healthy bedroom tho but sometimes if there is too much going on sensory wise I start to shut down. It depends on the moment and a big turn off is any odours…so that can be an issue at times…LOL. I don’t want to be OCD about cleanliness tho either to kill the mood…I

    8. In general I am good at my lists but if I don’t have lists then Yes… wrong order and then it messes it up every time. I also tend to have the wrong order and am very inefficient – do things the hard way…

    9. I have to be home. I love the concept of home and I often wish it was out in a cabin somewhere far away from it all. I often fantasize about my perfect cabin in the remote woods but with all modern amenities and a city right near by:) LOL.

    10. I don’t wander except for like Cynthia mentioned at grocery stores or check out lines and I have to leave because it is too much…otherwise I stayed close…

    1. P.S. I just realized my interest in romance novels ( particularly Nora Roberts – all of hers except her suspense series) probably stems from the fact that I find the relational aspect of it intriguing. She can WRITE wonderful friend relationships and family relationship as well as the main character romance so beautifully and I find it fascinating how she can. I also think it helps me in the sexual area as after I read a book like that I have way less inhibitions or sensory distractions with my husband…the books actually heighten my concentration into the emotional less logical side of me to be able to connect. It’s strange but true…yet even in romance novels I am picky about my authors – it can’t be trashy, obscene or too fluffy…I do find unfortunately that many are quite biased but since I am in a heterosexual relationship they apply to me…however I would be magnificently disappointed in the subject matter if I wasn’t…Anyway, I think overall romances help me to be in life better and sometimes I take character traits of the heroine to apply to my life to make me more “emotionally there” if that makes sense…instead of all logical…??

  24. anonymous answers:

    Q1: My fascination with certain topics persist after many years but I will pick up new ones. As a child, I loved watching PBS shows on woodwork and home building. Since the shows have drastically changed from their original format and hosts, I no longer watch those shows but will now watch new ones closer to what I enjoy. I picked up nutrition as an adult and read a lot about that now. I still like what I learned as a child but I’m not stuck there.

    Q2: Home building – love looking at house plans as a child, now I prefer watching shows like Holme on Homes or Rehab Addict where good solid home building skills are demonstrated and explained. I will use that info to fix parts of the home I do own with hopes of one day building a home from scratch.

    Crafting – everything from stained glass work, knitting, crocheting, sewing, drawing, painting, embroidery, quilting, etc. I try to do something from this category every day. I have knit blankets and socks to work on. I’m starting a quilt. The problem I have to deal with is altering the pattern while I’m working on it. I tend to do lots of revisions in my mind and get tired of a project without making much headway (I change my mind too much as I work). I think I would do better as a finisher of projects that someone else made than to get bogged down starting project after project, boring myself to tears.

    Baking has taken a return to the spotlight. I can’t do grains or dairy, so I’ve been modifying recipes 14-20 times to find the right balance before committing it to my recipe box. My family gets a new rendition of a cake almost 2 times a month for a whole year.

    Q3: Awful. I hate the effect of alcohol on my neurological function. So much so that I give myself a time out until I gain control back. I don’t talk to anyone, I just go sit in a corner until I’m ready to return.

    Q4: Yes! I love sitting on my feet. I switch often though because I’ve hurt my ankles too much.

    Q6: Yes. Warm things like wood make me want to touch them. It’s not me wanting to but the object asking my to touch it. Pianos are a good example. Things that come to life with touch have the most draw.

    Q7: Sexual arousal is almost shutdown for me. Since I can’t handle much of any I try to keep it to a minimum if any at all. I mostly abstain from sexual arousal (this does not mean I don’t have sex, I just avoid things like foreplay).

    If I become aroused (non-sexual response and/or situation) by a troll on the internet or a misunderstanding of something I’ve said by a family member or friend, I usually flap my hands and stim and stim and stim until I figure out what to do to make the anxiety go away.

    Q8: Not usually. I’m a very strong pattern thinker with military training in efficiency. I do everything I can to find a suitable pattern to mimic so I can get from beginning to end. If I am completely flummoxed, I’ll seek help from others. If no help is available, I’ll contemplate, visualize, tinker, contemplate, visualize, tinker, etc, until the sequence can complete.

    Q9: Yes. Camping is my favorite way of stopping. As a child we would escape to a location that had no power, no running water (other than a stream), no flushing toilets, no radios, and few cars. If people brought radios with them, we would leave.

    Now, I fantasize about homesteading on a lot of acreage. Give me room to get away from people. I would love it if I could do without power or running water. Candles and a manual well pump would work fine for me. I don’t like the noise of the water in the walls and I don’t like the hum of electricity. I want to hear natural sounds like trees creaking, birds, crickets, a creek, the wind, the crash of the tide. No artificial noises.

    Q10: I would mentally wander. My mother needed me to help her function, so I had little desire to physically wander. Mentally, I would check out and spend hours in contemplation. I was asked often if I was okay by teachers, family and friends. I was too quiet for them when I was that way. People would often forget I was there and be surprised to see me.

  25. anonymous answers:

    Q3: I don’t drink much so can’t really say.

    Q4: Not really, no. One thing I do often do, though, is sit with one foot touching the floor with the other leg underneath me. I only do this if there’s enough space, so I’m likely to sit with both feet on the ground if I’m in a smaller seat.

    Q5: Yes, definitely. My memories are little complete time sequences, like very clear snippets. A lot of the time I don’t remember a day clearly, but I do remember a particular five minutes very, very well. Image and emotional quality are the things that come back to me most completely, much more so than sounds. I may remember individual sounds well, but I don’t remember an integrated “sound-scape”, whereas my memories of images and emotional qualities are much more extensive.

    Q6: No, I don’t think so.

    Q8: I do need visual prompts to prepare unfamiliar meals, but with them I do fine. Having everything in writing to refer back to is important. I remember visual things much better than sound, so I wouldn’t be able to cook something new if I only had verbal instructions.

    Q9: Not when I was younger, but now I’m an adult and don’t have so much guidance I do sometimes fantasise about just stopping rather than putting in the work to carry on with life. This is distinct from being suicidal – it happens because I get exhausted with having to make all the decisions myself.

    Q10: No, but I feel that I may appear to be wandering when I’m overloaded because I will often take more steps than necessary to get somewhere. This happens because I’m trying to deal with the overload, and that’s a bigger priority to me than getting to where I want to be. I always have a handle on where I’m going, but to a casual observer I don’t think this would always be obvious. For this reason, I manage my sensory overload very carefully when I’m walking anywhere.

  26. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Some are for a life-time. I’ve always been obsessed with unravelling people’s patterns of
    behavior. Even at a young age I would attempt to analyze the actions of those around me, see where they fit in the bigger picture, and try to predict what would happen next. Other interests come and go depending on what is going on in my world.

    Q2: Behavioral Neuroscience, Biological and Paleoanthropology, as well as Human Rights scholarship are my most intense interests. So much so that I am making them my career. I think about these things and talk about them constantly. History, Sociology, and Cultural Anthropology are second tier. I can “disappear” into these subjects, but not to the extent of Neurosci or Bio-Anth.

    Q3: I hate feeling altered, so I avoid alcohol and rec. drugs. It’s easy for that feeling to spiral into panic and stemming becomes exaggerated.

    Q4: Maybe. Sometimes I feel the need to make myself as small and pulled into myself as possible. Almost as if I have to gather my parts and pieces in tightly to keep from blowing apart. I sit like that when I feel that way.

    Q5: Many.

    Q6: As a child, I felt this way often. The thought that I might be neglecting any of my toys made me feel very guilty. I thought they might be unhappy if I didn’t rotate them daily. I had a very complex system in place actually.

    Q7: It isn’t easy for me to become aroused. I guess I fall into the “sexually disinterested” aspie trope. When I am emotional aroused, stemming gets much worse.

    Q8: Yes. All. The. Time.

    Q9: I would say it’s more of a rising above. Just getting to a point in life where the struggle is managable, and people are more accepting.

    Q10: I would wander frequently as a child. Usually it would be to somewhere close by, so my parents rarely panicked. A couple of times I really freaked them out by following a distraction further away than usual. I would just get lost in my thoughts, and I guess my feet would follow. I still wander. My husband calls me feral, as I am prone to adventure off from time to time.

  27. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Persistent over many years

    Q2: camping, don’t do it, no car, no money

    Q3: haven’t had a drink since H.S.

    Q4: I use to but now at 59 years old it’s too hard on my joints

    Q5: Yes, usually negative

    Q6: No

    Q7: It takes a lot to get me up set. I keep myself under control 99.99% of the time. One jackass at work always tries to get me angry. Sometimes he succeeds.

    Q8: No, the opposite is true for me. I was a mechanic. I always thought through the procedure.

    Q9: I fantasize about living a whole other life.

    Q10: Yes I often wandered off, yes I remember it. I rarely socialize. I’ve been the target of persons that like to make me feel bad that I don’t even try anymore.

  28. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Persistent over many years, but subject to change.

    Q2: I’m interested in any facet of history & science or anything that has to do with the outdoors. I wouldn’t say that I have one specific special interest now, but as a kid, I was very “into” music, the outdoors & professional cycling. I used to collect magazines, posters, cards, records & tapes relating to all that, but my interest has tempered the older I get (Mostly because I pinch pennies & don’t like the clutter!).

    Q3: Alcohol relaxes me & eventually send me to sleep. I typically don’t drink in public because I’m a lightweight. At home, it takes just 1 to wind down.

    Q4: I do this. Its comfortable… until I remember its probably a sign to others to stay away (which is not at all what I want to convey!).

    Q5: I remember dreams vividly, including emotions, sounds, etc. I also recall many memories (particularly from childhood) that can make me feel like I’m a certain age again, in a certain place, as if no time has passed.

    Q6: I attribute feelings to living creatures… animals, plants, etc. but not to ordinary, inanimate objects. I do tend to think plants & animals are social & want interaction to some degree.

    Q7: It makes me more… nervous & tense, but I don’t tend to stim. If anything, I “freeze” unless I’m coached how to respond.

    Q8: I seem to have the opposite of this problem. I excessively “map out”, tasks, time, cause & effect, etc. It makes perfect sense to me, but everyone else sees it as a waste of time.

    Q9: YES! I have always wanted to stop the world, stop my life, start over, etc.

    Q10: I tried to run away when I was 6 & otherwise hung out in my room a lot. I wouldn’t exactly call that wandering off though. As a teen, I started exiting situations because I was bored or frustrated or felt different. As an adult, I disappear when I get angry or sad, but am typically able to stay in a situation as long as I don’t have to interact.

  29. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Subject to change

    Q2: Web design – gardening (ornamental pond and stone-scaping) – reading

    Q3: Do not drink alcohol. Father and brother were both alcoholics.

    Q4: not sure what you mean

    Q5: very few, but have experienced intense memories from smells.

    Q6: Yes (sort of). As a child, if I got chocolate on my fingers while eating candy, I felt like I had to lick each finger the same amount of times to be ‘fair’.

    Q7: not sure what you mean

    Q8: Yes. I tend to jump ahead, then have to backtrack on some projects.

    Q9: not sure what you mean

    Q10: Not now (I have children and responsibilities), but when I was younger I would escape into a shopping trip (which I hate to do..) and be out of touch for hours. It had nothing to do with shopping, more to do with escaping.

  30. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Persistent over many years
    Q2: Editing — constantly
    Q3: Slows it down
    Q4: Yes!
    Q5: Yes
    Q6: Yes
    Q7: Yes
    Q8: No
    Q9: Yes
    Q10: When I was a child, my family often chided me for having “my nose in a book.” As an adult, I have to suppress my tendency to suddenly get up and leave the room, as it is considered rude. I often mentally check out in group conversations.

  31. Q1: The major one, music, persists. The way I experience it changes: sometimes I play the music, these days I just listen to it and find out about the people who make it.

    Q2: Music – listening and researching the musicians

    Q3: Alcohol makes my lack of an executive function more obvious.

    Q4. Yep. I do it.

    Q8. Only if I’m not talking to myself, it seems. I need talking to get it done. Everything else, it might be inefficient-I can get stuck at a certain step because I want to do it the ‘wrong’ (inefficient) way, I have to remind myself at that point to do the opposite of what I keep trying to do.

    Q9. I dream about being a hermit. I doubt I’d survive the lifestyle though

    10. I wander within a zone that is designated by me or the people I trust as ‘safe,’ including but not limited to the school, a mall I frequent, online, etc. Within those zones I choose routes that might be considered by others as unconventional. I have disappeared off to a mall by myself during a lunch break because it was fun and satisfying, but now I’m wondering if that looked weird to other people? I also mentally wander off, kind of like daydreaming but not quite.

    1. …Hold the phone, are unconventional routes part of the definition of ‘wandering,’ in terms of autism? I’m terrible (well, I enjoy it; people with me not so much) for choosing unconventional routes to get places, particularly on foot. I think in terms of shortest distances, when walking. If I can make a diagonal line to somewhere (go the shortest possible path) without endangering myself, I will. I’ve learned that sometimes people like it if the person leading them wherever doesn’t decide to head off across the grass and hop through a flowerbed or walk through a fountain (not one with a basin, I’ll give myself that much credit!), but it did take me some time.

      I also love the idea of getting on top of buildings. There are not enough buildings it is, in fact, possible to get on the roofs of.

  32. This is only tenuously linked to this post but I have a question for anyone who might wish to answer. I am wondering about a particular habit of mine, and if it might be ASD related. I become very startled (I jolt and make a strangled sound) when someone, usually my husband, comes into the room unexpectedly, if up to then I’ve been in the house on my own. Even when I know it’s him. Even when I’ve heard him putting his stuff away in the hallway. But then I go back to my task, and he appears, or calls out – never loudly – ‘hello’ from somewhere behind me, and it scares the hell out of me. I have actually been frightened by people I know walking towards me and then doing a small sudden hop when they get close to better get my attention. I now greet my husband at the door because neither he nor I can handle my being frightened by his mere presence.

    1. This makes me laugh! My husband and I do this to each other at home. We know we are both in the house but we must both walk softly, we have carpet, anyway one of us will walk into the room that the other is in without the other one hearing and we shriek. Sometimes at each other because we have scared the other one by the scream. Funny afterwards but at the time terrifying. I wonder if we are shortening our lives by doing this? He keeps saying I am going to give him a heart attack.

    2. A heightened startle reflex is pretty common in autistic people. I think it’s related to how we filter (or don’t filter) sound/visual input differently from the average person. I startle very easily and at the silliest things.

    3. I scream loudly much to the amusement of my family (or throw whatever I’m holding at them). I hadn’t thought of this before but I do startle very easily and I am probably the most autistic of our household.

      1. Thanks everyone. Vontoast, I got a good laugh at the idea of two people just shrieking at one another. I’ve been sharing with my husband this new perspective on old behaviors, but I’m not sure how appreciative he is of this yet. It’s so hard because he is not very verbal at all, and if he doesn’t verbally respond to what I’m saying, quite regularly, I feel as if I’m doing something wrong. I’m like a child in that respect still: I need constant, clear feedback, and, ideally, positive reinforcement. Problem is he hates this need of mine to hear him say over and over what he thinks and feels about what I’m thinking and feeling. He’s listening, isn’t he? On the plus side, he loves information too, so once I’m done with the Complete Guide – it arrives tomorrow; I can hardly wait – it’s going to him, and I think that will make life a little brighter and clearer for both of us. Here’s hoping anyway.

  33. 1. I have life long interests and tend to have intense interest in something and when I have learned enough or I find something else I move on. I come back to some topics time and time again. Approaching them from a different angle and finding new interest. Others get lost along the way. 

    2. Art is a life long interest: reading about it, looking at it, painting, sketching, ceramics. Shape I particularly enjoy. Food is a life long interest, I enjoy eating, looking at, cooking and combining tasting new food with Travel which is another passion of mine. Language learning, Japanese, and Italian, in order of ability. Computer games are a looping interest. I find they give me a boost to my concentration. Books, reading and collecting, daily. Journalling daily. Researching. I discovered that I was very good at finding information and analysing data. For now Aspergers in the spotlight for me and I am finding as much about it as possible and at the same time getting to know myself better. Barometric pressure readings. I love puzzles. I enjoy watching movies. Fountain pens. I enjoy hearing new music. I like jazz, blues, rock, Indie rock, Indian, Latin pops, opera, I basically like music. I didn’t think that I had that many interests but the list keeps going. I enjoy collecting knowledge on a varied range of topics. I enjoy learning. Fishing, catching, preparing and eating. Again it’s relating to my interest in food and health. Sewing, knitting and crochet on and off. DIY. I built our library shelving. The library and the internet makes finding out about interests so much easier than it used to. 

    3. I drank too much in my youth to better try to fit in, relax. I am pleased that I no longer want to drink in excess. Now I am more comfortable with who I am I enjoy the occasional glass of wine over a meal or a chat and I can do without it if I chose. 

    4. I sit with one leg tucked under usually at home. I sometimes sit crossed legged. I have long legs so I tend to sit sideways after a meal to more comfortably cross my legs. I try not to do it as I think it gives you varicose veins. I often sit on one hand or have a hand under my leg. Or I cross my arms. When I notice I do this I unfold them as I know it gives a closed off impression.

    5. Yes many. Music, objects, food or photos trigger vivid memories. My memory is selective though. Not by my choosing. 

    6. If I am walking for exercise somewhere I need to touch a pole or a post or wall to “mark” that I was there and return the way I came. I have rocks and stones on my desk that I pick up from time to time. Wood or fabric I like to touch. If something looks soft I will want to see how soft. Ceramic bowls in particular those with good shape just need to be held. 

    8. Sequencing as in making a meal with several elements is not a problem. However my husband told me many years ago that flowchart diagrams would help me organise sequences in what I do. I can be very good at writing out a sequence or a plan or a to do list. I spend a lot of time planning. Perhaps the most difficult thing for me is starting. Once I have started I am fine.

    I am able to drop a plan even though I might have spent a lot of work on it if it turns out to be the wrong direction to go. I spent 6 months researching an area to move to and after analysis it turned out to be wrong for us so in all intents and purposes I dumped the data and started again on another area. I didn’t feel emotionally attached to the plan. It wasn’t right so I dropped it. Some people will think what a waste of data but for me the data results did the talking and wasn’t wasted. Time well spent. I would rather dump data than live somewhere that wasn’t right for me. I chose our house by the internet speed rather than the aesthetics. It’s still a nice place but the internet speed had priority. I am still pleased with the choice. That seems to come under the Aspergers type of thing to do, I think. :)

    9. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “stopping.” Never fantasied about dropping unconscious.

    We have designed our life so that we can life “outside” the average NT’s world and live according to our norm. We travel off season when we feel the need to escape or have the desire. For someone who never knew I had Aspergers we seem to have planned it with my guardian angel’s help to make it easier to live in this world. I couldn’t have planned it better myself. How we “knew” what to do I have no idea. We just seemed to know that we needed protecting.

    I’ve lived in the woods, I’ve lived on a farm. I’ve lived in a small town. I prefer to live in a big city now.
    I would have to say that I sometimes wish I was more gregarious and had lots of friends and had dinner parties and was more sociable. I know that I couldn’t keep up with this fantasy and it would cause me anxiety and stress. I suppose that is why it is a fantasy. I still would rather have one true friend than many false ones.

    Another fantasy is to go away on holiday unplugged! We keep threatening to do it but we just can’t leave home without internet access.

    10. I have never stopped this habit of wandering. I should know better but if something grabs my attention I just have to go and look closer. I don’t go too far. My wanderings are of a curiosity nature rather than one of withdrawing. My husband manages well putting up with this quirk of mine. “You’re just like a kid!” I try to not do this when we travel overseas. I suppose I am more conscious of this and that I may get lost. Especially in non English speaking places I try to be aware that it may not be a good idea. So I might not go too far away or stop off somewhere. We make sure we each have a cellphone so that if we lose each other we can call each other. So far I have never gotten really lost. 

  34. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Changing, lasting more than a year or two.

    Q2: I love a webcomic called homestuck, and i look at the fan art for it and fan videos and theories (its unfinished). But science it is on a hiatus, I’ve quite recently liked a video game called “league of legends”. It is fun to play, and the lore between the characters is nice to research.

    Q3: I have never consumed alcohol.

    Q4: i sit cross-legged on the ground and on hard, flat chairs.

    Q5: somewhat

    Q6: very much so!

    Q7: i may stim a bit more, but I’m not sure

    Q8: yes

    Q9: I like to imagine having powerful magic at my disposal to be able to stop time and/or become immortal. I’m not sure if this counts.

    Q10: I dont belive i wandered very much as a child, but i did and still do stop in one place if something interests me, and lose the people I’m with. I am still not sure it counts.

  35. anonymous answers:

    Q1: A little from column A, and a little from Column B. I get a lot of flash-in-the-pan interests, but a handful have stayed with me since childhood and have never really waned, although I might, month-to-month, give them marginally less attention because a new one is soaking up my energy. Only one from adulthood looks like it might stick around long-term. The fickle interests primarily arise from my desire to fit in, be someone I will never be, or do something I know I cannot really do – for example, dance with any hint of co-ordination.

    Q2: In general: people; the human world; me (cause apparently I count as people). Specifically, I will consume information every single day, sometimes for hours (usually via Internet), on the following: people’s violence towards other people (serial killers, genocide, dictatorships); natural disasters; plane crashes; daily news (I read four sites a day, twice a day, so I know always what people are doing to one another in every part of the world); movie and TV show synopses (so I know what’s going on with things people find interesting); nutrition; and, as of this week, autism. Other special long-term interests include houses (people live in them), and cats (kindred spirits; I wish people walked their cats, even though the cats would hate it – I just want to see more cats on a daily basis). Reading and writing are both special interests, as well as a way to access and further my special interests. Consuming information, by reading, is the same. It can be classed as a special interest all by itself.
    I am also really obsessed with cooking and baking right now, which I think is a coping mechanism for my tendency to over-rely on food as an emotional crutch. I was fat when I was younger. In order to make food still a big part of my life, I cook and bake healthy food now, and am always planning the next recipe. It’s got to the stage where the taste hardly matters; I barely notice. It’s all about the preparation, the anticipation, the tangible (edible) result. Food connects me to people, to other cultures, to history, to my new apartment. It’s also a way to communicate my affection for someone.
    I like recipes where I do not have to follow instructions too closely. I just want a basic outline, but I mostly want to own the end result. I want it to be my victory. As I accept more and more my ASD traits, which sees home as the ultimate sanctuary for me, I can see cooking and baking becoming a permanent special interest.
    Different countries, cultures, histories, weather systems. If I know someone from a different country, if someone I know expresses an interest in a different country, I will want to know all about that place.
    Walking. Special interest and stimming. I will greatly inconvenience myself – and possibly others – to go on a long urban walk.

    Q3: It disinhibits me completely. I used to drink far too much, and I always used to wonder why I felt such shame the next morning, even when I didn’t apparently do anything bad or overtly embarrassing. It was because alcohol robs me of my mask, and my learned behaviors (some of which were learned for a reason). I am very interested in learning about wine now, but I have accepted that my limit is two glasses with food, or one bottle of strong beer. If I’m going to be ASD, I’m going to be it sober.

    Q4: I have a vague recollection that this was a bigger deal for me as a kid. I have a problem with my hips and pelvis, so I have to be careful how I sit. Still, I love nothing more than sitting sideways in a particular armchair in my Mum’s house and tucking my toes behind the protruding handle of the nearby door, and swinging the door back and forth with my foot. I find it comforting beyond words. I feel like there’s something missing when I don’t do this.

    Q5: My memories were more vivid maybe ten years ago, but I actually feel like I’ve called them up too often in the stories I tell and write, so that they are not nearly as powerful as they once were, and even newly recalled memories come to me less vividly than I believe they might have previously. Now they are all like narratives, like the stories I tell, with vague, blurry pictures and muted colors.

    Q6: I make characters out of a lot of things. Even my stomach, and certain freckles, has a life, a personality; but I don’t know how much of this is to do with me attaching feelings to things and how much of it is just a sense of play, or helping to develop a narrative about me, and also about the world. I did worry about getting rid of five stuffed teddies that we made characters of over the years. I did feel as if I would be losing something akin to a pet, and leaving them feeling a little abandoned. The teddies stayed.

    Q7: I have some intimacy issues, and I find it easier to imagine great sex with someone I hardly know than with someone I’m already intimate with.

    Q8: This happened to me just this evening. This is why I do not do three-course meals. The stress is not worth it for me. Any (once-a-year) visitors get a one-pot meal, perhaps with some bread, and store-bought ice-cream for dessert. All of which will taste lovely.

    Q9: My fantasy lately is a cabin in the foothills of a mountain in Japan. There will be my husband, my computer, and, I fantasize, a lovely old lady neighbor whom I will be able to speak a little bit of broken Japanese with but whom I will mostly drink tea alongside. Acknowledging my ASD traits has been a little like stopping. It’s given me permission to stop passing so much, to step outside the social system when I just don’t have the energy for it.

    Q10: I answered this elsewhere. I loved my alone time always. Walking is now my wandering. If I go to a new city, I go wandering on foot, because that is the only way I feel I will know it.

  36. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Some lifelong. Some only last a few months to years.
    Q2: Mathematics, Astronomy, Computers, Myna birds. All of my free time is spent on my Special Interests and even at times I should be doing something else.
    Q3: Slows me right down
    Q4: At times
    Q5: Yes
    Q6: Rarely
    Q7: What’s sexual arousal?
    Q8: Sometimes
    Q9: All my life, I’ve always wanted to be alone
    Q10: Once or twice

  37. anonymous answers:

    Q1: All of the above. I have a few core obsessions that keep cycling back around. Other times I will have a brief obsession that comes out of nowhere, takes over my life and then suddenly disappears. For example, I will suddenly decide that I want to hear a song from a certain artist, I will then spend the next four hours listening to ever song and interview I can find on Youtube. And for the next week or so I will spend every free minute of my day thinking about the songs and googling for more videos. This might last one or two weeks, completely taking up all of my time, and then just as suddenly as it started, it is over. These are like exciting little flings. I have other obsessions, like coding and programming, that have been long term. These will occasionally flair up into intense obsessions, but for the most part they are always constant, but not overwhelming. I liked it to a long term relationship.

    Q2: My long term special interests are web design, programming and music. I spend at least a little bit of time on them every day and if for some reason I can not I get very anxious like a crack addict that needs a hit. I have other brief interests that come and go. For example, I recently started hiking a state park close to home (I highly recommend to all autistics!) and suddenly I was obsessed with knowing every park, nature center, and observatory in the state. I spend hours searching for every possible hiking trail, printing out the trails and downloading hiking apps to my phone. This went on for a couple of weeks and is now tapering off. I only hike a handful of trails but I have a list long enough to last me years of every trail within a 100 mile radius from my house.

    Q3: I drink very little because even a tiny bit of alcohol has a huge effect on me. The first thing to go is my speech. My speech starts slurring immediately even if I don’t feel the effects of alcohol. I also lost my balance easily, lose track of my belongings and have a tendency to wander off.

    Q4: Not sure if it’s an ASD thing, but sitting ‘proper’ or sitting up straight is torture for me. I need to be cross legged or all scrunched up in a chair. I can’t read a book in a chair unless I am lounging in it, preferably with my legs propped up and folded up some how.

    Q5: I have a handful like that but they all seem to be meaningless memories so I am not sure why I have them or why I remember so clearly.

    Q6: Absolutely. I really do attribute feelings to inanimate objects. And I’m not fully convinced that I’m wrong. On some level, we’re all just vibrations so ‘inanimate’ is just a label we put on things to understand them. But are they really inanimate? When I walk into the wall I say sorry. Sometimes I do it because I feel like I offended the wall. Other times I do it because I think it’s more important to put that energy out there than it is to get feedback from the other thing/person, which is the reason I will communicate sorry/thankyou/etc to someone even if they will never know I said it. When I was a bartender and I found money on the bar I would also look in the direction of where the person had been and then say ‘thank you’. People would ask my why I did that when the person was no longer here. I told them we are all connected and it’s the thought that counts. I appreciate their gesture even if they aren’t here to experience my appreciation. People thought I was nuts. But I think I’m right.

    Q7: Never thought about it before. But I do overload easily. In addition to everything feeling like a tidal wave blowing me over, I also lose some functions, usually my speech. Thankfully talking isn’t a big expectation during these times.

    Q8: Horribly so. Over the years I have waited table quite a few times and I always struggled with what to do when in order to be most efficient. Even though it seemed like I was following the same steps as my co-workers, they seemed to stay on top of their tables and I was always one step behind. It was a horrible experience.

    Q9: I don’t know if this is my primary, but it sounds really nice. My long term fantasy is to work from home and almost never have to interact with another human being face to face.

    Q10: Yes! I will always wander! No one can stop me. Sometimes I do it because I just need a break and I need to get away. Sometimes I do it because something caught me eye so I want to go explore. Sometimes I just want to go for a walk to think and it ends up being a couple hours long and a few miles from home.
    If I am with friends I can guarantee you at some point I will wander off to get a breather. I’ve got to the point where I tell people to expect it and they are not allowed to follow me.

  38. anonymous answers:

    Q1: i discovered my first special interest only a few months ago, so i wouldn’t know. Would have to say subject to change, though
    Q2: CLAUDE MONET! I research him at least once a day.
    Q3: i don’t stim at all (same with weed) and am still for the first time in ever lol. substances dont usually affect my abilities to walk/grab stuff/etc
    Q4: YES!!!!
    Q5: im sorry this question was really confusing!
    Q6: yep yep yep
    Q7: im asexual so… im never aroused
    Q8: yes!
    Q9: no
    Q10: i never wandered

  39. anonymous answers:

    Q1: All of the above.

    Q2: The United States and it’s Health, which has caused me a great deal of distress for many years now! I’m active with the Tea Party. Architecture, I like to look at house plans and I have my “Dream House” picked out, I just need a lot of money! I get my “building” needs fulfilled by playing Sims 3.

    Q3: I don’t drink, alcohol is too harsh tasting and I don’t get any pleasant reactions from it, It causes an instant migraine and I get too many of those already!

    Q4: I usually just cross my ankles when I’m sitting or lying on my back.

    Q5: Yes, I have a very detailed memory. Most are positive but I’ve had a few that are bordering on PTSD.

    Q6: I had a hard time when I sold my car to the junk yard. It felt like I was selling R2-D2! I tend to talk to things when I’m struggling with them, it helps to ease my frustration.

    Q8: I have some difficulties with this, so I read directions several times before I attempt them. If I mess up, it can be very upsetting for me.

    Q9: I often wished that I was invisible in school, only making an appearance for Band and Art Class.

    Q10: It wasn’t a big concern of my parents, it was common for kids in my area to have the run of the town. (you just had to be home for dinner) My adventures were frequently solo. I never left school, despite it being torturous for me.

  40. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Usually always changes
    Q2: I like making music. It pretty much takes up my life.
    Q3: I hardly drink
    Q4: Yes.
    Q5: Yes.
    Q6: No.
    Q7: Yes.
    Q8: Yes.
    Q9: I also feel this way.
    Q10: I still wander off till this day, though I could say I’ve gotten better at telling someone beforehand.

  41. anonymous answers:

    Q1: other obsessions have lasted years. depending on my interaction with said obsession. people, if im not running in the same circles it fades, though it could easily be brought back to life.

    Q2: rocks. – every where i go practically, im looking at the ground anyway, i may as well find a rock.
    parenting/birth natural stuff – well, im a big supporter of natural birth, breastfeeding and whatnot, and im almost always immersed in that stuff, online and i think about it in person (though probably because im currently a parent LOL)

    Q3: i hate it, religious “allergy”. got sick on my 21st thanks to my fiance (now hubby). i never did like the “warmth” i felt when i drank anyway.

    Q4: i do it. i know its not good for my body, (physical therapist info) but i end up doing it whenever whereever.

    Q5: yes. there are certain events or things in my past that i can remember the smell, i can remember the butterflies in my stomach (and i get them from just thinking about it), i can feel what i felt, or whatever. very clear.

    Q6: i have no idea

    Q7: i dont know. i dont usually get aroused unless im looking for that, and then its really hard to get it out of my system until i fulfill it. i can separate that need from my other needs on most occassions, though i have a happy marriage so of course we have a good private life as well. i think we do well.

    Q8: i usually follow directions really closely if im doing an unfamiliar recipe until i get the hang of it. i usually cant seem to memorize recipes very well, (i guess im saving that memory space for other things) so im glad to just have my recipes.
    however, i play it fast and loose with measuring. sometimes i measure “inperfectly”, using a half filled 1 cup measure for a half cup. LOL

    Q9: ? no.

    Q10: no not really. a few times i lost track of time while riding my bike when my parents let me go ride up and down the highway when i was a teenager. i just wanted to be alone, and of course it had something to do with my obsession at the time (a teacher), thinking if i biked long enough i would see him. usually if i did, i would go home LOL

  42. anonymous answers:

    Q1: It’s either really short (between a few days/months) or can last decades.

    Q2: Mostly reading and writing. When I do engage in them, it’s usually on a maniac mode : I do so for hours, and hours without any perception of the time until I eventually get bored of too tired to continue. But it’s hard to get in the mood to do so even though I like these, and only do so when I’m either really happy or really stressful.

    Q3: I do not drink, because even beer with the smallest % of alcohol can affect my control of my body. It makes me nervous to a point of stimming for hours until I get rid of it, so no drinking at all is better.

    Q4: Yep. All the time. Like right now.

    Q5: Most of my memories are film-like, with smells and sounds plus a picture. I don’t think I do have those clear moments.

    Q6: Yep, all the time. But in a sense I don’t talk about it to other, because they find it weird and it get even harder to fit in.

    Q7: I’m asexual, so no arousal. I usually end up stimming because the proximity of people makes me nervous.

    Q8: All the time. Get in the way for school and work a lot, but that’s kinda what an autistic brain does. Making lists and check out to be sure what you are going to do next help for cooking at least.

    Q9: I do. Sometimes, just to be cut off of ankwards situations (like dropping unconscious) but more and more I actually want to leave this planet. In dreams or writing, it’s always a theme. To have the possibility to get away of the society.

    Q10: I did not wander far from home, but I did, and still does isolate myself without warning when I can’t take more. Before I was always hiding under tables, in the toilets at school, everywhere really. Because I was forced into social area that I had no control over (high school was hell) it was on a daily basis. Now, I still do that but years of social learning the hard way made me do it somewhere else than under tables, but no warning. When it’s too much, I just can’t take a second more. It’s now or nothing so I do dissapear and hide until I feel enough strength to get out.

  43. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Persistent over many years, for the most part, but I do have some short-term ones.

    Q2: Biological control of invasive species, birds, a revolving door of video games, dancing, singing, actors, web development programming. Depression and poor executive function keep me from engaging them consistently, though. I often only think of them when they’re somehow right in front of my face.

    Q3: I have a decent alcohol tolerance. I mostly get sleepy, and my posture and proprioception get even looser than they already are. I don’t think I stim any differently, or if I do, it’s slightly less. My EF maybe worsens slightly, but not much.

    Q4: IAbsolutely. Sitting on my feet, cross-legged, sideways with my legs over the arms, or if I have to pretend I’m sitting “normal”, with my feet and ankles all twisted around each other and only one foot on the floor.

    Q5: I have a few, mostly of notable life moments, like my grandmother’s wake when I was 3. Most of the rest of my memory is just a fog of facts.

    Q6: Absolutely. Silly example: commercials where anthropomorphized food protests as it’s being eaten terrify me. I literally have to plug my ears and close my eyes.

    Q7: I’m almost never aroused, so this is hard to answer.

    Q8: Absolutely, especially while cooking. I get super frustrated when I realize I’ve been inefficient.

    Q9: I have definitely imagined walking out of my job, or when I was younger, just ceasing to complete my school obligations. On my worst days of depression, I wish I could just cease to exist, or stop eating and lay down and never move again.

    Q10: I was too afraid to wander far, but I spent a lot of time in the woods behind my parents’ house growing up. Nowadays it only really manifests in me locking myself in the bathroom for awhile.

  44. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Personally, it’s very subject to change. Normally I’m extremely interested in something for a maximum of six months or so, then I start to move towards something else.

    Q2: Currently, I’m sort of obsessing over social justice and it’s more of a large-scale hobby than anything else

    Q3: I hate the taste of alcohol. I don’t drink.

    Q4: Yes. Yes I very much do. Sometimes when I can’t I sit on the floor and I always sit with my legs crossed in school. I can’t feel comfortable without doing it

    Q5: I can call up some pictures, but never emotions connected to memories. This might be connected to physical verbal and emotional abuse I endured in childhood.

    Q6: I like to think that when we claim an object as ‘ours’ a piece of our soul attaches to it’s soul and it can act as a reservoir of emotion or feeling when you don’t want to deal with it. I don’t know if that counts.

    Q7: I’m fourteen and not particularly interested in sex.

    Q8: Yes. I tend to start with what I think is the most important part, not the one that will take the longest. For instance, when I’m making pasta with sauce and a vegetable, I’ll start the pasta, then I’ll take care of the vegetables, and only then will I realize that the meat is still frozen.

    Q9: How is this a thing?? I actually do this a lot, but I have a lot of other fantasies too. (come to think of it most of them include me disappearing and coming back minutes later even though years have passed)

    Q10: I tend to leave to go on a walk when my parents are being bigger assholes than usual. I only ever walk to the same tree. I don’t normally do it under normal circumstances though.

  45. anonymous answers:

    Q1: It’s been a but of all three for me.

    Q2: I have a tonne! The huge ones are mmorpgs/video games, films, and certain genres/subgenres of music. Other interests that have come and gone range from architecture to cooking.

    Q3: I don’t really know, I don’t like to let myself have more than two drinks as past that I get more depressed than usual and need to sleep. I’ve never been drunk with anyone I felt comfortable stimming around.

    Q4: Sometimes I do this (depends on the comfort of the chair) but usually I sit with my legs crossed.

    Q5: Yes. I feel like my brain is a harddrive.

    Q6: Yes! But with textures I always need to touch them if it looks like something I want to touch or stim with. I am drawn to certain things as well without knowing why (in shops etc.) and as for my personal things yes there are some things I feel sad for/they feel sad if I don’t use them, like my old teddy if I don’t cuddle him for a long time. I even say “sorry!” If I accidentally bump something like my computer.

    Q7: I am asexual, so this doesn’t apply to me.

    Q8: Sometimes, if I’m very nervous or anxious about whatever will happen. The majority of the time I make sure to plan everything in advance almost down to the last detail, saves on awkwardness and becoming overloaded.

    Q9: Yes. I’d love to be able to just hibernate or shut down with an option to reboot, but I may never choose to reboot.

    Q10: I vaguely remember always running off as a kid and even niw if something catches my eye I’ll leave to go explore without a word to anyone (cos I can’t explain where I’m going or why). And especially if I’m overloaded I’ll just try to find a quiet place to calm down or go home if I can, having to make excuses later why I just left.

  46. 1. I have some persistent “special interests” that are life-long, but those are broader topics, more like subject areas. For example, I’ve been interested in animals (particularly vertebrates) and ecology since babyhood, and biology is still one of my deepest interests. I’m interested in anatomy and physiology, evolution and phylogenetics, immunology and pathology, and the ways in which animals relate to their environments (my undergrad degree basically covered all those things). But I also have more specific special interests, that tend to come and go. For example, I was extremely obsessed with Pokemon as a child, in the way that many autistic kids are. It’s kind of like, whatever I’m interested in, I’m just WAY more intensely obsessed than a neurotypical would be. When I’m reading a really good book that I’m enjoying, I want to talk about it all the time, I think about it all the time, I look up fan art and draw my own fan art, and so on. When I find a TV show I like, I watch ALL of it all day and night, I talk about it constantly, I look up information about the making of it, the actors, the writers… Those interests tend to wax and wane.

    2. My overarching “special interests” are biological sciences (particularly animals/evolution), sexuality/gender, nutrition/food science, and autism/neurodiversity. These I tend to spend at least some time reading/talking/writing about every day, and I’ll spend entire days (5-12 hours) immersed in documentaries, articles, etc, about these interests. I have various other long-term obsessive interests that I’ll cycle through (occult lore, ancient mythology, human prehistory, hair care (yes, really), various cultures, writing genres, and book series). These I will not engage in at all for weeks or even months, and then dive right back into the same way as my pervasive special interests. I’ll spend a few weeks obsessively reading hair care forums, for example, and then go back to my normal life, only to repeat this a few months later.

    3. Alcohol tends to make me “more” and “less” autistic in equal measures and in different ways. I say “more” because I am relaxed and not monitoring myself, so I tend to monologue more, stim more (touching my mouth and face especially), and sit in weird/childish postures without realizing it. It also makes me “less” autistic because it removes my social anxiety, so I laugh more, engage more easily with people (eye contact is easier too), and am more desensitized to sensory input, so I’m less easily overloaded.

    4. YES, it is. I’ve read a lot about this, and I also see it everywhere in autistic people (including myself) in my everyday life. It’s a sort of stim in-and-of itself, because of the pressures and sensory comforts of sitting folded up. It’s also a self-comforting behavior that is a way of mitigating social stress (nervous/shy neurotypical people will do this too, to some degree).

    5. Almost all my memories are like this to some degree. I have a fairly photographic memory, and all my memories are visual/sensory, and usually very clear, but the clearest are memories associated with specific thoughts, events, or strong feelings. For example, during lunch time one day when I was in elementary school, I finished eating my salad only to notice there were potato bugs floating in the dressing. There were bugs coating every piece of lettuce in the cafeteria. I went around yelling to warn everyone else to not eat their salads. I remember that the tray I was eating off of was tan, and I remember I had a box of chocolate milk next to the square where the bugs floated in my caesar salad dressing. I don’t remember circumstantial things that I could not see (like what I was wearing), but I remember what was in my field of vision in a “snapshot” fashion, as with all memories. That one is just more clear, for obvious reasons.

    6. Sometimes, especially with easily personifiable objects, like my stuffed animals. As for textures that “need” to be touched, I don’t do this. I’m the one acting and emoting in that situation for me, not the thing I’m drawn to.

    7. I’m glad that this is a question; sexuality and autism is an area of particular interest to me that I’m researching, so I’ll read over the answers here. For me, I would say no, at least not in the way the question is presuming. Though my sensory window becomes very narrow, and focuses down to touch, and not much else.

    8. Yes, I have very classic executive functioning deficits in this way. I have a hard time breaking a larger task down into steps, and I have a very hard time prioritizing tasks, or individual steps.

    9. No, though I do fantasize about it occasionally, and did especially as a child (my particular scenario was going into a coma and enjoying a fun dream instead of my real life). As an adult, I enjoy my life enough that I’m no longer drawn to this fantasy. When I was very depressed I would think about this often.

    10. I was a textbook wanderer as a child. I simply wanted to be a certain place, was drawn towards something specific, or wanted to be elsewhere than I was currently, and followed my impulse. I didn’t think about the fact that I was *walking away from* someone else, I thought only about my own desires. Often, especially outside, I would simply feel like running, so I would run on ahead. Or, indoors, I would want to explore because I was bored, and I would just leave to find another area of the grocery store/museum/whatever. It was mostly a normal childhood impulse combined with a lack of theory-of-mind, I think.

  47. 1. Some interests have been life-long but others last only a couple of years.

    2. My current special interests are bicycles (deep), knitting (deep), cooking (moderate), autism (moderate), fashion / style (moderate), gardening (moderate), local history (minimal to moderate). I’m not a social person so most interests are developed through internet research and my own hands-on work.

    3. Having a drink initially improves my executive function. If I can’t get started on something that needs to be done, I have a beer and suddenly whatever it was that seemed impossible is now reasonable and doable. In social situations it does calm me (so need less stimming) and makes me seem more normal, to a point. After a second drink all of this deteriorates rapidly, so I’ve learned to go slow and easy.

    4. Yes, I do this compulsively. I prefer to be all crossed up. It’s so much more comfortable than sitting normally. Even at work I’m usually sitting with one of my feet crossed under me.

    5. Yes. There are moments where my life changed before my eyes and I can replay them like they are happening right now. Mostly feelings, sounds, sensations.

    6. No, I don’t do this.

    7. I’m not sure how to answer this. I don’t notice that I respond differently to situations where I’m excited compared to a more typical emotional state. However, any arousal seems to be much more … intense … or maybe extreme … that what I perceive the NT experience to be. Unlike most of the responders, I crave touch, the more, the better, the more pressure, the better.

    8. No, I’m actually very good at this. Working out the ‘process flow’ of things or activities is something that comes naturally to me. (Sometimes my awful working memory will trip me up. I knew what I needed to do, but forgot a step or jumped ahead. To me that is a different problem.)

    9. No, I don’t fantasize about this.

    10. As a child I was not permitted to physically wander, so I disappeared into books and daydreaming. Does that count? Now, I will remove myself from an overwhelming social situation by finding a less occupied room or quieter spot and hiding in plain sight.

  48. anonymous answers:

    Q1: The topics change from time to time, but writing has been pretty consistent.
    Q2: I love telling stories and journaling. I would label writing as an obsession.
    Q3: It helps me to relax and talk a lot more.
    Q4: Yep. Not as much as I used to when I was younger, but I still do it.
    Q5: My strongest memories involve emotion.
    Q6: I used to, but not really any more.
    Q8: YES
    Q9: Yes
    Q10: I disappear inside my mind. What frustrates people around me is (I’ve heard this all my life) how I build up walls around myself.

  49. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Somewhat. I tend to cycle through my interests regularly. I’ve had the same interest in RC cars for most of my life (I now have about $6,000 worth of RC cars

    Q2: RC cars\planes\helicopters for 17 or so years. I’ve spent easily over $20k on them over that period of time.
    Astronomy. I have my own 5″ telescope and plan on getting a much larger scope and build a mobile observatory.

    Q3: It really messes up my executive functioning more that it already is. To others, I appear to stim more, but it’s just that I don’t mind letting people see me do it as much.

    Q4: yes, I like sitting cross legged when sitting on the couch or in an office char. I particularly like sitting like that in an office chair and spin around in it.

    Q5: Yes. I have very clear memories from about 2 1\2 years old and on. I have a very good long term memory. My short term memory, however, sucks.

    Q6: Somewhat. I feel bad when I misuse an object and I feel sorry towards the object.

    Q7: not really

    Q8: I create a very specific order in which things are done.

    Q9: I sometimes wish I could just live in the middle of nowhere on my own.

    Q10: I had a tendency to leave people’s house without saying I was leaving. I didn’t realize this upset people until they said so.

  50. 1. Is the fascination with certain topics usually a life-long one, persistent over many years, or subject to change ?

    The particular subjects of interest may change over months or years, but the general obsessive nature remains the same.

    2. What are your special interests and on what scale do you engage in them?

    My current special interests are acting and activism. I am always acting. In every situation, social or isolated, I will always ham it up, put on a persona, or attempt to connect more deeply with my authentic self. Often I will not even be aware of the reasons for my spontaneity (that’s why actors are always asking “what’s my motivation?” – we don’t know!) for example when holding doors open for people who are very far away. Activism is more of a conscious effort, and the amount of time I devote to it is getting in the way of pursuing acting as a career.

    3. What effect does alcohol have on you, particularly on your executive function or stimming?

    As I am a 20-year-old American, I have limited introspective data on the effects of alcohol.

    4. I’m wondering if sitting all crossed-up in chairs is an ASD ‘thing.’ (i.e. do you do this?)

    I usually raise only one leg or sit on it, limited mostly to comfortable office chairs. This is definitely a pressure stim.

    5. Do you have some very specific memories? Such as “ah-ha!” moments that you can draw up much more clearly than most memories, involving not only a picture but feelings, perhaps sounds and smells etc. as well and the image is VERY clear whereas most memories are a thought.

    My earliest memory is at age 4, visually and proprioceptively inspecting the fridge and realizing I was now tall and long-armed enough to reach the coffee yogurt in the back. Embarassing memories such as picking someone up bridal style and nearly injuring them tend to pop in at the most inconvenient of times. I tend to recall the visuals and emotions most vividly. Ranking from easiest to recall to hardest, it goes visual, auditory, innervative, gustative, olfactory.

    6. Do you sometimes attribute feelings to inanimate objects? Do you feel like certain objects ‘want to’ be interacted with or will feel bad if you don’t use them? Do you explain some of your quirks in this way, for example thinking that street furniture or certain textures want to be touched/felt, rather than you want to touch them? Or does it feel this way but you translate it when talking to others?

    I will sometimes speak to objects as though they are people, but it is always for my own sake.

    7. Does arousal influence you in an autism-specific way? As in: Do you overload easily when aroused? Does arousal influence, for example, your verbal reasoning skills than you feel would be “normal”? Do you stim when aroused? (for clarification: the questioner described this question as being “personal” so I think they are referring to sexual arousal, but answer in whatever way is comfortable for you)

    I am moderately certain that my sensory experience with arousal and sex is more intense than the average NT. Other than that, my sexual habits are not much out of the ordinary. The only autism-specific note I can think of is that I may make skin contact in a stimming way, even in the midst of sexual acts.

    8. Do you have difficulty with sequencing – working out the order in which you need to do things – for example if you were preparing an unfamiliar meal with several elements, would you have difficulty balancing them all without explicit planning and measurement in advance? Do you often realise you’ve done things in the wrong order or in a very inefficient way?

    If the number of steps or materials exceeds a certain threshold, I may throw caution to the wind and start working without planning. Cooking is a common scenario, which may involve many trips to fridge/pantry/store.

    9. Is your primary fantasy ‘stopping’? In school, I used to fantasize about spontaneously dropping unconscious. As an adult, I fantasize about leaving the social system entirely. more details here

    I don’t fantasize about leaving the system, but giving up on coping with life is a common starting point of various fantasies.

    10. We often hear about autistic children wandering off. Did you wander? Did you “disappear” frequently to the point that was upsetting to your family (or teachers?) Why did you wander off? What do you remember about it? Now that you are an adult do you still wander? Do you disappear (perhaps during sensory overload) without telling anyone that you need to remove yourself at this time? more details here

    This has happened more recently than when I was a child. I will often camp out at a restaurant during social or emotional overload. On multiple occasions, I have pretended to be deaf to explain my inability to speak, since service people are more likely to properly accommodate deafness than autism. Upon returning home, I get criticized for not the exercising the skill that I was never taught of telling people where I was, which exacerbates the whole process because I then have to wait until everyone is asleep to avoid that confrontation.

  51. These surveys are fascinating. It feels like fresh air for me. Thought processes are remarkably similar with some people. The intensity that we pursue subjects, from the outside appears manic and can consume hours, days, months at a time as we follow our path to knowledge. And then once the topic has been understood its dropped. It may take us off in a tangent or back to another interest.

    1. Aren’t they fun? We started doing them because we realized that we could create our own interesting questions about being autistic when we were joking about how poorly worded some of the Take a Test Tuesday questionnaires were.

      1. I used to be obsessed with surveys when I was a kid. I just now remembered that I used to make up my own, with my friends, modeled on the ones I saw in my mother and sister’s women’s magazines. Now, sadly, I find them a little daunting, but I wonder if this is because I know I will get sucked in and will forget to do anything else for the day. I keep myself away from things I love, if I can, for this reason. I say to myself, ‘I’ll do it after dinner, when everything else is done’, but by that stage I’ve got in the habit of putting it off, and even a few days later, when I have time, the fun thing now has all these negative associations, so I continue to ignore it. The other problem with open-ended questions for me is that I find it hard to organize my thoughts in a way that reads back as satisfactory, or in a way that I feel follows acceptable rules of thought-organization. I try to tell myself to keep things ‘simple’ (I was always accused of thinking too much as a child, or making things too complicated – well, I should say that it FELT like an accusation) but then I see how many of the same words I use over and over again and I feel utterly stupid…. Does anyone else tie themselves up in so many knots over something as innocent as a question, or survey? My pedantic brain just told me ‘Not all surveys are innocent you know… you should probably qualify that last bit…’ 🙂

  52. 1. I have some of each. I have one that’s persisted since childhood, one that I’ve had for about 20 years that waxes and wanes, and one that was kind of a latent special interest that’s really picked up in the last few years. There have been others that have faded, but I remember them fondly.

    2. My oldest special interest is volcanoes, and it’s still pretty active. I’ve had it just about as long as I can remember. It helps that I live in the Pacific NW, which is volcano-land! A few years ago I got the chance to go to Hawaii, to the big island, and got to go out to the active lava flows. Because the wind was blowing the heat away from us, we were able to get pretty close, close enough that the soles of my shoes melted a little. It was absolutely the highlight of my life so far, and something I never thought I’d get the chance to do. I’ve been up to Mt St Helens a few times, walked through the old lava tubes, and when I first moved to Portland I really enjoyed the fact that I lived just a couple blocks south of an extinct volcano. I always say that when one of the Cascades goes up again, I’ll be the one driving towards it.

    My other long-lasting special interest is NASA and space, and it’s where I get my tumblr blog name, 1201alarm. I wrote up something to explain that a few days ago. I’ve read every astronaut book I can get my hands on, read tons and tons about space, and take every chance I get for stargazing. It’s not as strong right now as it has been in the past, but I remember when the most recent Mars rover landed, I watched the live stream from Mission Control and could still understand all the jargon, I was so pleased. My oldest nephew has decided he loves the moon, and I couldn’t be happier.

    The sort of latent special interest is art, mainly visual art and theatre, but I’m really interested in trying my hand at making miniatures and dioramas, and I have some ideas for simple bead-and-wire jewelry too. I’ve liked to draw since I was little, and I’ve been in theatre “on and off since childhood” as my actor bio says. So it’s something I’ve been interested in almost my entire life, but only kicked into high gear in the last few years. I sketch now, and use oil pastels, and as for theatre, when I’m in a show I will talk anyone’s ear off about my own personal acting process and the work I’ve done on my character.

    My other main interest is languages. I’ve always had a good ear for languages, and I love etymology. I think of my approach to language as kind of like doing math with words — I find patterns, break words down into their parts to see what I recognize and what I can learn through context. I can understand Spanish reasonably well, write and speak less well, and I can use it to fake my way through the other Romance languages a bit. I have a little basic German, and I’d love to get going with Chinese, because a tonal language would be so interesting to learn. I’m also very interested in sign language, which I think would be fascinating from a linguistic perspective and very satisfying for a hand-stimmer. 😀

    3. I don’t often drink, mostly because it just doesn’t interest me outside of the occasional beer. But then there are cast parties, and I notice that I get much louder and more sociable. I think I have a bit of the “active but odd” type that comes out in the right situations, when I feel very comfortable. Working on a show definitely shifts me over into that type, and alcohol definitely brings it out more. As for executive function and stimming, I haven’t noticed a difference, but it’s possible that it’s there.

    4. I tuck one leg up under me whenever I can, and have done since I was a kid. When I can’t do that, I sit with my legs stretched out in front of me, ankles crossed, but mostly if I’m in a big, comfy chair, I like to curl up into it as much as I can!

    5. My strongest memories involve very strong feelings. I can remember how it felt the first time I got a part I really wanted and I felt what it was like to cry because you’re happy. I remember when I found my dad’s emails to the woman he was cheating on my mom with and I felt what it was like to have a chill run down your spine and settle in your gut. I don’t often remember senses very clearly but I remember the kind of high pitched crackling sound the flowing lava made, when the very top layer was cooling, and the beautiful iridescent blue-purple color of the top layer of the older cooled lava we walked on.

    6. I do, sometimes, but less than I used to. I feel like something might be sad if I throw it away, like it was trying its best?

    7. I feel like I become a lot less verbal, like my brain is so taken up with the arousal that I don’t have anything left to put into experssive speech or translating my thoughts into words. I also feel like I become a lot more focused, and if I do stim I’m not sure I’m conscious of it.

    8. OH YES ALL THE TIME. Even with very familiar tasks, like putting together whatever I’m taking to work in the morning, sometimes I’m just like “what do I do”, especially if I think I’m running late. At work, I have checklists of the things I need to look at in every case, with a few “if you see x, do y” bits in, for the times when I get interrupted and have to get myself back on track. Before I made them, I’d just click back and forth between windows until I could figure out what was going on. It’s actually a big reason why I’m hoping my assessment for an official diagnosis (which is on Monday) goes well, because being in a bright, chattery open office environment is absolutely not working for me anymore.

    9. I don’t really have that, but if I didn’t live alone, I could see getting there. I do often think about living in a society where autism is normal, where nobody expects you to talk and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with you if you want to just be by yourself for days or weeks at a time.

    10. I never wandered as a child — I had “stranger danger” drilled into my head so hard that I was afraid to talk to anyone I didn’t know, or to put myself in a situation where I might get lost. But these days I do not hesitate to leave a place if I’m overloading, assuming that’s an option. I remember in my early 20s having friends trying to follow me through crowds in a mall because to me “let’s leave” meant “RIGHT NOW” and I would take off in the direction of the exit, dodging my way through the people.

    1. Oh volcanoes – love ’em! The colours, the destructive power.. I do envy you your visits! So cool 🙂

    1. I know that this was not intended for me but I just had to say Thank You for posting the link. Had great fun looking these over with my kids. They were fascinated I know this will dominate conversation for days.

  53. I hope this isn’t too off topic but, as the post is about how we experience the world, I thought I could squeeze it in here. It’s been playing on my mind for a while now, and is one of the primary reasons I allowed my first suspicions of having ASD be so easily discounted: the notion of empathy in NT people vs ASD people. I always saw myself as being super empathetic. When I began watching Hannibal, the TV show, and came across Will Graham’s hyper-empathy, I could definitely relate. From my reading, I understand that it might be a case of how I arrive at my empathy that highlights the difference between me and a more neurologically typical person. There is, admittedly, a lot of thinking involved. I’m very bad at reacting to situations, especially confrontations, because I have to go away and think about where everyone involved is coming from before I can decide how I really feel and how I should react appropriately (two days, or weeks, later…). I usually do one of two things: I jump the gun, start shouting, possibly eventually crying, and generally have a mini-meltdown, or I pretend everything is fine (and it might be mostly fine) until I can go away and have a good think about it. The first reaction caused a lot of problems at family dinners, so I learned to veer towards the second, and I’ve taken that into a lot more situations. Besides, everyone has so many different perspectives on everything, and I don’t have the strongest sense of self – how can I say for certain what is right and what is wrong?

    This leads me to my second dilemma. I don’t think most people are very empathetic. I’m reading about how empathy is instinctive in NT people but I’m thinking ‘Really? Maybe I need to introduce you to… almost everyone I’ve ever met’. I wonder if I’m getting confused about what empathy means. Maybe that’s my absolutist tendencies shining through: I’ve learned to be empathetic; now everybody should be empathetic exactly the way that I am, and on exactly the same things that I am. For instance, I abhor – always have – judging people on their inclusion within a group. So, hating/disliking/being suspicious of a person because they are in a different ethnic group to you, different sexual orientation, gender, class – whatever group or division in society you can think of, I never understood why I was supposed to hate/be fearful of someone based on it. I LIKE people who are different, in all sorts of ways, those you can see, and plenty of ways you can’t. I realized from a young age it was because I felt different and I was looking for allies, though I didn’t necessarily formulate the experience with those words. So, racism – for example – is very hard for me to grasp, but what really boggles my mind is how you can have somebody who counts themselves as a member of a minority or oppressed group (say, LGBT) and STILL be racist, or sexist, or ableist. But, but, but… you know what it’s like to be hurt by others’ prejudices, how can you not see/look at your own!!!! And when I ask them about it, all I hear is a version of ‘That’s different’. No, it’s NOT!!!!

    I see this as willful ignorance and I see it in the vast majority of, I presume, NT people I know – people who are in other ways very decent, very nice, and treat most other people very well. This to me is not empathy. Or it’s something else, something that should dwarf the notion that people like this are empathetic and that is GOOD, and people like me are not (instinctively) empathetic and that is BAD, or at least deficient.

    1. I think the problem with empathy is that it’s framed in a way that normalizes neurotypical experiences and makes everything else “wrong”. I’ve noticed that I find it much easier to react appropriately to autistic experiences because I can base my reaction on how I would want someone to react if I were in that situation. With nonautistic people, it’s much more difficult for me to guess at how they’d like me to respond and so I often get it completely “wrong” in their eyes. I don’t think it’s so much an empathy problem as a shared experience (or lack thereof) problem. I often find nonautistic people appear to me to be unempathetic because they just have no idea what I’m experiencing or how I might be feeling (when how I’m feeling is something that is especially autistic in nature).

      With regard to the the idea of hyper-empathy, you might want to read more alexithymia. I’ve found that it accounts for a lot of my difficulty with processing/handling things like confrontation and anger in other people.

      1. Thanks. I’ll look that up. That’s what I like about this blog: it’s mix of the personal, and the academic/scientific. It’s that combination of information I can best process. The personal – because it gives me detailed examples to work with. And the academic/scientific – because who doesn’t love facts?!

        I am definitely going to read more about this idea of empathy. It is a bug-bear of mine. Personally, I’d like the definition changed (to become mine ideally), but until then, I’ll just see if I can find a way to learn how it might be difficult for NT family and friends to respond to me, or know how to respond to me. I am feeling considerably enlightened already. I hated people gossiping, and whenever someone would go on a rant about some awful group of people that are destroying society just by being in it, citing a specific example they’d read in some, in my opinion, horrendous tabloid newspaper, I never could grasp that they just wanted to be allowed rant, or gossip, and not have me correct them on their poor use of facts. They got mad, I got mad. They thought they were right, I was CERTAIN that I was right. I honestly felt it was my duty to correct them – otherwise they would spread that misinformation around, and that was just (potentially) dangerous. I get now that in some milder instances, I wasn’t reading between the lines and that what was being said was probably not what was being felt, and I know all about saying seemingly outrageous things because I can’t quite get a hold on what I really think and feel. I draw the line at outright lies and offensive language, however.

    2. Hannibal high-five! I spent a number of comments a few posts back talking about Will Graham. I’d say he’s the character on television I feel like I can best understand. He’s all about trying to act ‘normal’ (well, trying to *function*) in order to maintain a sense of purpose and to earn the social prosthetic properties of more stable people around him, like Jack Crawford. And he actively hurts himself by forcing himself, even in absurdly stressful situations, to continue to be of service to those people and to adhere to his assigned ‘purpose.’

      And, of course, they, being human, let him do that, because it’s far more trouble to look past his insisting he’s fine, take him aside and say, no, you’re in trouble, you’re stressed, you need to take a break, than it is to just let him drive himself into the ground because he lacks communication abilities. Watching Graham in that show has given me a lot of perspective on my own cycle of workworkworkwork collapse workworkworkwork collapse, my sense of obligation to others because they ‘put up with me,’ and my inability to articulate what I need to avoid collapse.

      I would totally have a house in the middle of nowhere and 10 dogs if I could manage it…

      1. Oh yes, if I was Will Graham I would never leave that house, or the dogs. I never thought of it in that way, however, pushing oneself for a purpose. That doesn’t seem that unusual when I just write it down, but it’s the thinking that goes behind it. When I was working I pushed myself, out of an obligation to others, but also because I wanted to be the kind of person who was a Dedicated Worker. I pushed myself for the purpose of creating a persona. Someone had an idea of me, or I thought they did, and I snatched it, thinking to myself ‘Sounds good enough to me!’ and pushed it, and myself, to the very limit of my coping abilities.

        Thinking more about it, I’m wondering if I, and other ASD people, were measured against more autistic situations, would our levels of empathy look very different. The empathy I see in many people seems to be geared towards emotions and situations that they can personally relate to. Maybe they’ve been through the same, or a very similar, experience, maybe they’ve had someone they love go through it. People relate to their ‘own kind’. That’s what it seems like to me. Well, what if your own kind isn’t what people think it is, or should be? I can empathize, without intellectualizing, with almost anyone who seems to fit the mold of an ‘outsider’. I cannot empathize with those who are afraid of outsiders, though I can intellectualize some of their possible reasons behind it.

        My understanding of emotions, my ability to describe them, might be different. I may have to spend a lot more time thinking about things, reasoning them out, that others take for granted, but right now I am finding myself offended by the idea that I don’t to empathy the right way. There are many people in this world I feel who could benefit from doing a little more intellectualizing.

        1. My current feeling is that ‘lacking empathy’ actually means ‘lacking the biological mechanisms for feeling rewarded for maintaining social equilibrium.’ Instead of feeling good when I engage in rituals meant to confirm social bonds, I feel confused because those rituals have no purpose *other* than confirming social bonds and so don’t make me feel good (or at least as good as they make other people feel–for other people, it seems like they feel good enough to make expending the energy they require worth it), since I lack the ability to feel inherently rewarded by them. Since ‘normal’ interaction doesn’t reward me for participation in it, then I’m at loose ends and have to hack other ways to feel rewarded for being part of the social system onto myself, which, I think, is where that strong desire for justice and consistency comes in. If being in the system is not rewarding in and of itself, then *perfecting* the system seems to be one of the few other ways to feel engaged with it–problem-solving within the system. Another way to feel rewarded, for me, seems to be in adopting and maintaining a specific performed role (but this always wears me out in the end).

          If I lack empathy, it is empathy for myself. I cannot feel enough ‘myself,’ enough desire to care for myself or enough understanding of myself, to interact with confidence with others or to choose goals. I’ve started wondering if I actually have limited sentience, compared to other human beings. It’s strange to be able to articulate thoughts but doubt if I’m truly self-aware. And even harder to figure out how to explain that to others :\

          1. Are there exceptions to this, cases where you feel, yes, there was a genuine passage of understanding, feeling, and support between yourself and another whom you might classify as “neurotypical”? I wonder what makes those situations work differently, and whether it’s owing to something contributed by both of you, etc. Likewise, if there are times when you *don’t* doubt your self-awareness and/or full sentience, and what makes *those* situations different. That’s a lot of big questions, I know…

            1. I feel most connected to people when I’ve just cried XD I’m guessing the endorphin shot ups my ability to feel trust and connection. If I felt like I did just after crying all the time, I’d be a-okay, I think! And I think–I feel most connected to people during the first phase of getting to know someone, when I have an ‘act’ in place (even if it’s not deliberate) and that act lets me be near them and care for them but not yet overwhelmed by their expectations of me and mine for myself. Once we get closer and the act starts to wear thin, I start to feel co-dependent and like I’m hurting them and myself by trying to force the relationship certain directions and being uncomprehending when they want things that don’t make ‘sense’ to me. I also feel strong connection to people when we’re *both* pretending to be other people/roleplaying. Ungenerously (to myself, at least), I think this is because it renders interacting with the other person more predictable and more like interacting with myself (with those internal characters other threads here have talked about) than with interacting with a complicated fellow human being.

              1. Wildly articulate as usual, Otternot. Believe it or not, I know what you mean about those kinds of early interactions, and the sense of connecting through interest and caring, but still at a bit of a remove. I feel that. But I feel closest to people when our relationship has stood the test of time. It’s the middle part that’s hard, the shift from superficial to deep closeness – that can feel risky and/or prove challenging. That’s where real self-revelation is required, I guess – and thus the greatest feeling of vulnerability, chance of attachment, and risk of loss.

                1. ‘Wildly articulate’ is right! Otterknot, I could identify, keenly, with almost every single word you wrote (the ones that I missed, I probably just didn’t read right cause I was in such a hurry to reply!). I wanted to stand up and applaud your theory about our concept of empathy being related to the feeling of being rewarded for confirming social bonds. I am not very good at paraphrasing so forgive me if that doesn’t read as what you actually said, or meant.

                  My sense of injustice is saying that it is not right, not is it very constructive, to hold up the NT model of empathy as the one to – almost – aspire to. I feel that the current way of looking at empathy in the population is faulty, unfairly problematizes autistic behavior where there may not be a problem, and ends up comparing apples and oranges. Shift the perspective just a little and you might just come up with very different answers. I’m not sure that’s very good science.

                  Another thing I have yet to read about (though I am only in the early days of my research) is how cultural factors might potentially play a part in measuring a child, or adult’s, abilities relative to the rest of the population. This is a little off-topic (I do seem to have a penchant for that, perhaps because I am so new to this) but here goes… I was reading about empathy and also the ability to identify emotions and The Complete Guide made a reference to how NT children have quite an impressive, and subtle, range of words for their feelings. Really? Because where I come from, people don’t traditionally talk about their feelings, this is ingrained from childhood, and when they do it is in quite rudimentary terms. I was the most emotionally literate child I knew, and THAT’S what marked me out as weird (among many other things). I’m not saying that I don’t have issues identifying emotions, and I have big problems coping with them, but, and maybe I’m wrong here, I think this is another picture that may look very different depending on who you are using as your comparison subjects. In any event, I think the notion of comparing an autistic child to her cultural peers would be an interesting one to explore, but it was never mentioned (that I recall) in Atwood’s book.

                  Moving on – I feel heady in the first few weeks, or months, of a new friendship. It’s like being in love for me. In fact, before I met my husband, I was pretty good at confusing myself about what I actually felt for someone. The feeling of being connected to someone, or the feeling that that is what is going to happen once the friendship evolves just a smidgen more, is all-consuming. I have learned to be terrified of letting the intensity of my feelings show, and am always very unsure what is the right thing to do next, if such-and-such a display of friendship is too much, or just right, or even expected. Just today, in a text message conversation about the early days of our friendship, one of my two close friends, remarked that I probably felt as if I had little choice to become friends with her after meeting through work, as she had practically ‘stalked’ me. Funny, I remember it as being the other way around! Both she and I do tend to suffer from low self-esteem at times 🙂 There is a great sense of achievement that I have three long-standing relationships in my life (one marriage, two friendships), that three people and I have managed to go the distance in our tumultuous world… but my god, those early days can be quite intoxicating.

                2. You might enjoy this, MrsT (and Cynthia) – I was reading an article before bed last night about use of mindfulness to mitigate co-occurring anxiety and depression with ASD. Relatively speaking, I didn’t think it a bad (as in, notably offensive) article. It’s on the milder end of “standard” – although I should add that I was skimming to get to the good parts. In any case, toward the end there’s a line that struck me, after a day of following comments here, as incredibly ironic: “Although the use of self-reports in individuals is controversial in ASD populations, adolescents and adults with average verbal ability and a relatively high level of functioning seem able to describe their strengths and weaknesses adequately.” Adequately! Ha! Doesn’t it strike you that a distinction in research needs to be made between “during high-stress moments” and “the rest of the time”?

                3. Wow. I’m not even sure what to make of that line about seeming able to describe our strengths and weaknesses adequately. Am I taking it out of context, or does that come across as more than a tad patronizing? I think distinctions are a very constructive tool when diagnosing, and working with, people on the spectrum. I think another one might be made between methods of communication. I can be terrible at getting my point across when I’m talking. It can take me three tries at a conversation to explain one crucial thought. In high-stress situations, I am prone to meltdowns. Give me a pen or a computer, however… Actually, a computer is best because it has a delete button and I can type very fast; I just happen to adore paper, and I am the proud owner of a beautiful Cross pen, which I like to just hold sometimes (always with a view to writing something breathtakingly eloquent of course, or else a really satisfying list).

                  I am learning how unpleasant it feels to be talked about, and lectured to – about me. As my husband pointed out, with just the right amount of scorn, ‘Majority rules’.

                4. I agree that it can come off as patronizing, but I *think* it may be more a case of ignorance and the byproduct of academic writing, with its particular tone – there is an expectation of neutrality that breeds conservative, bet-hedging language. Having been required to read more of such papers than I ever wanted to, I can attest that they often aren’t well-written! I appreciate your point about making another type of distinction, between modes of communication, some affording more facility than others.

                5. I think it’s a lot worse than just a tad patronizing. It’s a basic failure to presume competence and incredibly insulting to all autistic people, including those who are nonspeaking and perfectly able to know what they like, need, want, etc. Sadly, these attitudes are way too prevalent in academic and research circles and far too easily accepted by people who assume if it’s in an academic paper it must be true.

                6. I’m realizing with a pang that it may have seemed offensive of me, or at least insensitive, to share that quote, especially with the presumptuous intro, “You might enjoy this.” In the moment of reading and then sharing, I was failing to consider wider implications, which is perhaps a sign of my own degree of protection from them and thus how much I need to learn. I hope I am at least sometimes more cognizant than that. I was just so aware of the irony of encountering such a statement after reading reams of incredibly open and detailed self-reflections on the very subject of strengths and weaknesses, that the absurdity struck me more than anything.

                7. EA, I think you were fine. I interpreted your comment the way you intended! After constantly seeing the clear, articulate comments here on Musings, it’s hard to believe any professional could generalize so vastly about ASD people and their ability to communicate! (And that bit about ‘self-reports being controversial’ floors me. I’d hope any professional is paying attention to how the person her or himself says he thinks and feels! If, as a population, we already have a tendency to weaker sense of self, to have professionals so cavalierly toss aside even listening to us…)

                8. Thanks for your comment, Otterknot – you and MrsT both helped the day to begin more brightly. I tend to take things to heart, regardless of whether they’re “about me” or not, and thus was ruminating all day yesterday and went to bed that way. Grateful to be given reason to think about my remarks from another perspective, on the one hand, but upset that I might have inadvertently made myself part of something that I want no part of. There’s such chagrin in failures of consciousness – and in knowing they’re not all in my past, but could/will happen again. I know that “meaning well” has, historically and today, been affiliated with any number of appalling acts and omissions. Anyway, maybe I can email the contact on the academic paper, in the Netherlands, share my reaction to the passage I quoted, and suggest that she and her colleagues read a blog like this.

                9. EA, you should have seen me (American, white, over-literal and over-thinking) learning about racism and white privilege online. I know what it’s like to spend a week reviewing a comment in my mind and cringing at how it might have (and, in my case, often did) come across!

                  Your comment was fine, for me. Don’t worry 🙂

                10. I also took it the way you seem to have originally meant it EA. In fact, I’m very glad you shared it with me. It sparked a really interesting conversation with my husband this afternoon, and I got even more food for thought. It’s been an amazing week for that.

                  I will hands up confess that I was being very true to the stereotype of my cultural roots in my description of the quote as ‘a tad patronizing’. As a general rule, Irish people are prone to speak in what may seem to others as wild exaggeration or else gross underestimation. Irish-English could be its own language. The reason I mention this is because I wonder if cultural issues should be taken into account when diagnosing an autistic adult in particular. For instance, Irish people do (again, as a general rule) tend to pride themselves on their dark, sarcastic sense of humor, not to mention their creative turn of phrase. This would have affected the way in which my use of language developed, and I wonder if there could be other examples of this, where an adult does not seem to meet a certain criteria, or in fact does appear to, but the reality is complicated by what he/she learned from his/her wider society. I suppose this might intersect with the issue of passing. I am not especially worried that I, or someone like me, would be misdiagnosed as I would hope the process is more robust than that, but I think the issue of possible cultural distinctions is a fascinating one. I was frequently told by teachers, even employers, that I overthink or over-complicate matters, and it’s possible that that’s what I am doing here now. I thank you for your patience, if any has been required in reading any of my comments 🙂

                  ‘A basic failure to presume competence’ – thanks for this. I’ve been trying to work out what rankled me about that quote, and others like it, and this phrase nailed it for me. My use of underestimation – or exaggeration – in my language is often a protective mechanism in case I make a faux-pas. It’s a way to hedge my bets I suppose. This is very common among most people I know, and can by all accounts be very frustrating for those who are more forthright, or come from more forthright societies. Sometimes I think the society in which I was raised was all about passing, all about covering up any kind of difference you had. You could be anyone you liked on the inside, as long as you didn’t allow it to creep into public view, lest you might make others uncomfortable. This perhaps comes across as somewhat bitter, and that has been known to happen, but right now I feel simply fascinated by all these possible connections I have never truly considered before.

                11. I’m curious if you mean cultural issues might cause problems for diagnosis within a culture or cross-culturally? I can definitely see how cross-cultural differences would cause problems. For example a person raised in a culture that views direct eye contact as rude would make less eye contact than people in cultures where eye contact is expected, regardless of whether they were on the spectrum. But if that person were being diagnosed by someone who shared their birth culture, the amount of eye contact they do or don’t make would be compared to their own cultural standard to determine if they fit that particular diagnostic criteria. Hope this makes sense and isn’t totally redundant to what you just said above.

                  And I think most societies are very passing-oriented. People who are different seem to make the majority uncomfortable on all sorts of levels. But definitely moreso in some cultures (or regions) than in others.

                12. I realize at the top of this thread I mentioned cultural distinctions already. I apologize for the repetition.

                13. I didn’t think of it as repetition. The issue of cultural difference is an interesting one, for sure. I’ve been intrigued for some time by studies of the influence that language structures can have on thought-processing – gendered nouns, etc. (Also, if the same word is used for “Why?” as for “because,” does that affect one’s attitude toward disputes?) So to consider the more encompassing (and often invisible) “language” that is culture strikes me as a big, big, fascinating question. By the by, I spent a mere ten days in Ireland but was struck by the use of language as you describe it – colorful and entertaining but also, for me, distancing and often sarcastic. I’d love to go back for longer. If only for the one-minute rainfalls I experienced in County Kildare!

                14. I never thought I’d say this, but I am actually missing rain right now: a proper shower. We have almost as many words/phrases to describe the weather, usually wet weather, as we do for getting/being drunk. My neighbor in Ireland was American and I had great fun acting as part-time translator for her. She also got me thinking about some of the metaphors we use regularly, and I would try to guess at their origins. Looking at it now, I probably gave very literal interpretations of them or else very far-out, very unlikely, ones, but I adore playing around with language. I love warping the emphasis on a well-known word too, which I think Cynthia mentioned somewhere. My favourite word to do this with is bagel, though I’m not at all sure why.

                  I suppose it’s logical to assume that cultural differences would be more likely to pose potential diagnostic challenges cross-culturally, but if the professionals are all singing off the same hymn sheet and this hymn sheet hasn’t mentioned anything about cultural differences, say in relation to eye contact or language, then could that create a problem for an accurate diagnosis even when professional and client are from the same culture?

                  I actually think my issue is larger than this, and that what is really bothering me is the general treatment of human populations as more homogenous than they actually are. Nuances can tie me in knots, but I can’t seem to stop myself from advocating that they be given their proper due. I like my labels to be accurate. I threw an almighty tantrum one day when I was seven when someone referred to me as white. ‘I’m peachy-pink!’ My brother tried his best to explain it was just a name for my race, and I accepted what he told me eventually, while knowing deep down that he, and everyone else, had got it oh so very wrong.

                15. I’m on your side there, Peachy-Pink. A resounding “yes” to nuance and individuality. Thank you for sharing your stories.

                16. I’ve never given much thought to how culture might impact diagnosis in different parts of the world and it’s a really intriguing question. I do know that some countries have higher rates of autism and others lower. Part of that is simply related to access to diagnosis/healthcare and the prevailing cultural view of autism in general. But I wonder how much prevailing social mores, etc. affect the way autistic traits are evaluated for diagnosing. Great question!

                  I’m laughing at your resistance to “white” as a descriptor. I never understood that one either and was always confused by what color to make the skin of people in coloring books. White was clearly the wrong crayon but no one called anyone peach or light pink or any of the colors that seemed appropriate for coloring in a person to make them look like me.

                17. I really freaked out when my brother tried to tell me my mother was white too. Her heritage is Italian. She is tan. My husband is mocha. Otterknot – and EA – I am with you on the good intentions panicking. Road to hell and all that… I grew up middle-class in a fairly poor, rural area, and my God have I felt guilty about that every single day of my life. Studying Sociology probably didn’t help me any in this regard. It probably helps to explain my obsession with different cultures, and cultural differences, however.

                  I feel every ounce of every one of my privileges and I know that I did nothing to deserve them. I was born into them. I was lucky. Luck unnerves me. It’s unpredictable, with no meaning. The justifications some people use to explain why they should have what they have (though very little effort was expended on their part), while others should not, never washed with me. Not because I’m some saint or Leftie on her soapbox (an accusation leveled at me on more than once occasion), but because it simply didn’t make sense to me. Ideology for that matter also unnerved me. I could, and would, poke holes in everything. But only because there were so many gaping holes! Now, the fact that so little made sense to me finally makes sense to me. It’s a miracle!

                18. I think people often make the strange mistake that someone *noticing* a problem is more of a bother than the problem itself. People who can see the flaws in things (whether logical, aesthetic, or otherwise) have a gift – but it can be one that’s awkward both to give and to receive. It sounds like sociology was a good fit for you. Goodnight, from Eastern Standard Time.

                19. It’s very much a case of ‘shoot the messenger’ sometimes, isn’t it? Sociology was a great fit, though as one of my best friends, whom I met through the course, said: it teaches you how to have no concrete opinions at all. Nothing is really right or wrong. It was probably a good antidote to my absolutism but, being me, I took it to extremes and couldn’t make up my mind what I felt about anything after those four years.

                  Goodnight EA (and everyone else on EST). Always a pleasure.

  54. anonymous answers:

    Q1: My first reaction would be life-long, but it isn’t. I still like my past subjects but have no active engagement with them. My current one has gone on for 10+ years possibly because it naturally can expand to other sub-topics and has a very calming physical component.

    Q2: Current main one is knitting, encompassing yarn characteristics, sheep breeds, fibre types, spinning, weaving, crocheting, pattern design, learning new techniques, and just plain easy knitting too. I knit everyday. I weave and spin often. I spend way too much time on ravelry, I read about it and watch and listen to podcasts. It takes up as much of each day as I can get away with. I even dream about it too.

    Q3: Lessens executive function, but lessens caring about it too.

    Q4: I don’t think it’s an ASD thing although I do it. It is very common and I think everyone does it to feel comfy, cosy, safe etc regardless of neurotype. I think women may do it more than men simply because sofas and armchairs are too deep for shorter legged people to sit “properly” on them comfortably.

    Q5: I do have sone very clear memories going back to toddler age. I can remember being in a pushchair. My memory is very scattered so, while it is good, I find it hard to retrieve what I want on demand and need priming. It’s as though my memories aren’t joined up properly and yesterday and last year aren’t linearly connected. (I have a theory that this is part of the charm of a special interest. I can always remember what I want because I’m always studying and thinking about it.)

    Q6: No

    Q7: In the more general meaning, there is a level of arousal needed for optimal functioning. Above or below that we don’t function so well. This is true for everyone, autistic or nt, but the optimal level will be different fir everyone and perhaps vary over time.

    In terms of sexual arousal, I think it makes me more able to tolerate touch.

    Q8: I plan a lot and work out in advance the best way to approach things. I’m naturally chaotic and inefficient.

    Q9: I used to imagine dropping unconscious too. Years ago I had a fantasy about joining the Amish or similar group who (in my imagination) lived a simple, manageable, mutually supportive, calm life.

    Q10: My brother does this a lot. He’s (probably) nt but has specific learning differences and very slow processing speed. He sees something interesting and is gone. More as an adult because he can!

    I don’t know if I do or not. I do go off on my own a lot and often people complain I walked off in the middle of a conversation/activity, but I thought it was finished and just went on to do something else. Not deliberately leaving.
    I do sometimes run off on my own if I feel overloaded. Not proud of it but often can’t say anything.

  55. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Both. Some topics have persisted for over 20 years, others are shorter and more intense. Often, I find that once I’ve learnt all that I need to know, or reached a certain (purely arbitrary) level of mastery, I lose interest. In the meantime, though, the subject in question has the power to consume every waking moment of my day – even socially or professionally inappropriate times.

    Q2: Foreign languages (Western European and East Asian). When I’m hell-bent on fluency in one, I’ll disappear into an immersion bubble and become even more antisocial than usual. This can go on for months at a time, and I’ll rarely come up for air.

    Linguistics. I can read and read and read about structure and etymology and theories of language acquisition and erosion. I even started a Masters degree in it, but had to stop because of the student loans I was rapidly accruing and couldn’t justify for a hobby.

    Alternative medicine/self improvement/metaphysics. These are all sort of interrelated. I’ve got the (stereo)typical autistic gut issues, which have all kinds of knock on effects with allergies and rashes and digestive disturbance. I’ve been studying ways to make myself ‘better’ for the past few years. The specific target of my research varies (GAPS diet! LoA! NLP! Paleo! HIIT training! Intermittent fasting! No ‘poo haircare!), but there are usually at least a half dozen browser tabs open on my laptop at any one time. I’m currently bouncing back and forth between the quest for the magical silver bullet that makes it all better, and learning mindfulness and Buddhist-type principles to help me be at peace with what and how I am.

    Fandom. This one’s been going since the 90s, when we got our first dialup modem and I discovered that those stories inspired by TV shows and films and books that I wrote were actually a Thing People Do. That there were communities for that. I usually switch my attention from one fandom to the next every 2-3 years, but being a fanfic reader and writer, a fansite maintainer, a graphics maker, and a messageboard participant continues apace. I don;t do conventions, though. I went once and found the energy overwhelming, even with friends there as a buffer.

    Reading. Primarily fiction and self-help. My flatmates understand, and explain when they invite people over “she’s reading, don;t even bother trying to talk to her”. Bless them. I get hooked on series, especially fantasy – not necessarily dragons-and-magic fantasy (though I like J K Rowling and George R R Martin), but also dystopian futures and urban fantasy. I lost last Saturday after picking up a book at breakfast time and getting sucked into hyperfocus limbo till nearly dinner time.

    Music. I’ll listen obsessively to one artist or composer, picking apart orchestration and song structure till I figure out how it works and why I like it. I’ll play the same piece over and over on my violin. Sometimes I’ll play the same PHRASE over and over (almost like stimming, really). This is more of default, fall-back interest. When my flavour of the month hobbies end, or a need a breather, I come back to music.

    Q3: My best friend insists my tight control on my faculties while drunk is unsettling. Apparently you can’t even tell I’m drunk until/unless I throw up or pass out. I find it helps me stop thinking so quickly, though, which is nice for the ol’ hyperspeed thought process. It lowers my tenuous hold on filters, though, if I let it (and I’ll only loosen my grip on self control a bit if I really trust the people I’m with) – I’ll blurt out inappropriate things that my Aspergirl training would usually squash down.

    Q4: Oh god, yes. On the couch, on the floor, on dining chairs, on my swivel chair at the office. I get made fun of for this, but it’s good humoured, so I don;t mind. It’s not like anyone stops me.

    Q5: Occasionally I have flashes of specific memory, usually triggered by a smell or a sound or just a vague sort of vibe. It’s pretty rare, though.

    Q6: I feel bad leaving my hot water bottle alone on my bed. I feel guilty when I replace my laptop and get rid of the old one. I often feel horrible when I donate or sell objects, as if I’ve betrayed them. This seems to be a combination of attributing feelings to inanimate objects and my overdeveloped sense of guilt. It’s not something I talk to people about. I get the sense that they might think I’m a bit loopy if I admitted it.

    Q7: In a sexual sense? I’m hypersensitive, which can really go either way. Either things are amazingly pleasurable or waaaaay too much. Occasionally I overload to the point that I seem to go numb, in the sense that I can still in theory feel contact, but have no reaction to it, pleasurable or otherwise. I don’t think i stim when aroused.

    Q8: The meal prep is maybe not a good example. I just follow the recipe as if it were gospel. If it screws up, I blame the instructions.

    I often find, even after thoroughly thinking through the most expedient order in which to do tasks, I almost inevitably do things in entirely the wrong sequence. Weirdly, I only realise it AFTER I’ve done them, and can look back and analyse. There’s always things I forget to factor in before I begin.

    Q9: When I was a teenager and young adult, I used to fantasise about being completely alone – having my own house way out in the countryside with no one for miles around, and being able to just potter around, reading and writing and playing with my imagined menagerie of pets.

    Nowadays, after experiencing first hand how unbalanced and clinically depressed I get when I cut myself off too much from society, I just fantasise about leaving the rat race and doing my own thing, but I don’t think that’s an autistic thing exactly. Having said that, I work around very business-oriented, professionally ambitious people, both at work and in my social sphere, and I don’t identify with that desire at all. At ALL.

    Q10: I used to wander off a lot, especially at museums and galleries. It happened so often that I became very well trained in finding the reception desk and asking them to page my parents.

    I still wander. I tried doing package tour holidays overseas, but found I chafed at overstructured plans.

    My reasons for wandering, in childhood and now, was interest. I’d see something interesting and zone in on it. Hyperfocus strikes again. When the focus releases me, I look up and I’ve lost my people without realising it. My autistic brain expects them to be where I left them, as if no time has passed. Silly brain.

    Re sensory overload withdrawal, I’ve reached a point where I’m aware how rude that is, and am learning to say goodbye to the host(s) before I wander off. The downside is I often get caught in conversations that way, at the one time I can’t handle them.

  56. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Usually persistent over many years. I have some nearly lifelong special interests and others that that last for anywhere between a month and two years before I get distracted by a new one. Often something will start out as a special interest, eventually get set aside, then be taken up some time later as a not-so-special side interest.

    Q2: Martial arts, especially old-style karate and medieval/Renaissance European fighting arts. I’ve entertained serious notions of traveling to other countries to study or spending more money than I actually have on this.

    Anthropology/archaeology/history. Devoured all the books that got in my way.

    Palaeontology and prehistoric life. I’m going to school for palaeontology.

    Psychology. I’m considering switching majors to this.

    Social justice, activism, advocacy

    Q3: I really don’t know. I’ve never had enough to get any more than slightly “buzzed”, which I don’t particularly enjoy. I’m often anxious in social situations, but the idea of having my judgement and reflexes clouded makes me feel vulnerable.

    Q4: I sit with one knee on the chair or with one leg crossed over or under the other a lot of the time, if that’s what you mean.
    I haven’t seen many other people do this.

    Q5: Yes. Almost all of my memories are images or visual “impressions”, but some of them are much more vivid and easily conjured up than others. A few of the earliest are somewhat embellished and symbolic, like I can remember the feelings and unfolding of an event very well, but the image in my mind is less an actual snapshot of what happened and more a dynamic swirl of imagined colour/light and fragmentary remembered images that together symbolize and record the sights and feelings.
    If that makes any sense.

    Q6: Not really, but sometimes I feel like I sort of owe it to an object to use it and make sure it fulfils its purpose. I don’t attribute feelings to the cups at the back of the cupboard per se, but it just wouldn’t be “fair” (to the universe or mathematics or something) if I only ever took the ones in front and under-used the others.

    Q7: I don’t think so.

    Q8: Yes. I’m terrible at any kind of multitasking that I haven’t specifically and deliberately practiced.

    Q9: Not my primary one, but I do think about it fairly frequently. I dream of going off to live somewhere out in the forest or sailing away.

    Q10: I didn’t wander too much as a child. I would disappear (or flee) sometimes, especially at family gatherings or the like, but nobody worried about it or got upset. I still do wander as an adult (if I dare call myself one). During my first year of university living in residence, the physical and social environment was frequently very stressful and overwhelming, and I was in very poor mental health generally, so I’d wander the campus and the nearby streets and parks for hours in order to clear my mind and de-stress (also because I couldn’t sleep). I would often be out alone almost all night, wandering around and exploring tucked away places.
    I’ve never had any serious sensory overload as an adult, so I’ve never really disappeared from anywhere unexpectedly.

  57. anonymous answers:

    Q1: For the most part, I will get ultra fascinated by a certain topic but sometimes almost just a quickly as the interest came, it’s gone again. I partially think my want to know every detail pertaining to that one interest is because i know that the interest will eventually fade away, leaving me unsatisfied if I haven’t learned a fair bit beforehand to really give myself a chance to know if I like the thing or not. To be honest, it’s gotten to be kind of a drag because i feel like I know I’ll eventually lose interest in whatever it is I’m doing and sometime that hinders me from starting it all together.

    Q2: I’ve had a lot of special interests 🙂 Painting, coloring, gardening, puzzles just to name a few. Painting was pretty short lived, so was coloring. I really would love to be more artistic than I seem to be but I get overwhelmed by perfection sometimes. I’m really hard on myself and if I can’t manage to do what I’m trying to accomplish, I get really upset. That leads me into the whole not wanting to try it again due to perceived future failure. Gardening however has seemed to be one of the special interests I’ve been able to stick with. I assume that’s due to me personifying plants (they live, breathe, eat.. *I* help them live essentially) therefore I feel guilt if I don’t attend to my garden.

    Q3: I’m not a big drinker so when I do have a drink, it doesn’t take me much to get a buzz. I find that I’m either tipsy or just really drunk. I can’t seem to find that happy medium like I could when I was younger. I can’t recall the last time I was drunk well enough to talk about executive function, but I probably stim a lot more due to the way the alcohol makes my body feel.

    Q4: Yes! Absolutely. At work, I’ll sit in a bunch of different ways as long as my garments permit it (dresses/skirts, etc), I usually try to sit cross legged or if I’m sitting somewhere that has enough space on the lip of the chair, I’ll scrunch my legs up close yo my chest. Maybe for “protection’?

    Q5: Yep. I can draw a lot of memories from my childhood. I think I remember some memories better than others because I attach a lot of internal feeling to things. Feeling out my emotions is kind of how I live my life. I don’t even know if that makes sense.

    some memories have feeling attached and those are more vivid whereas memories that i experienced with mainly my eyes (thats the best i can describe it) are harder to recall.

    Q6: haha, yes! When I was younger, i had a ton of stuffed animals. Not all of them were anthropomorphic to me but my favorites were and I’d feel guilt if I didn’t play with them, or sleep with them or if I felt like they were being “left out”.

    Embarrassingly enough, this hasn’t gone away and I’m 30 now. A few Christmases ago (I might have been 27), my husband and I were in Michaels craft store picking out some new tree ornaments and I came across the cutest feather bird. there were 3 of them left (which didnt help because 3 is my favorite number). I wanted to buy one for me and my mom but the 3rd one wouldnt have a home… how silly. I had a hard time leaving him in the store. My husband will sometimes humanize things and I have to ask him not to (he doesnt do it on purpose, he just forgets sometimes haha). When we were getting rid of our truck (old, run down thing), he said something to the effect of “oh girl, you’ve been good to us, sad to see you go. time to go bye bye” and I had to ask him to say it differently LOL 🙂 I’m not always that ‘weird’ about objects. It gets bad after a panic attack or a bad anxiety attack. I have to try hard to block out those types of feelings.

    Q7: Hmmm I’m not sure how to answer this question effectively. Sorry!

    Q8: I think I have pretty good organizational skills, I try to work the sequence out in my head before I do something. My full time job depends on organization, planning and deadlines. Although from your example, cooking has never been a strong suit so i have issues with planning/prepping/cooking time.

    Q9: I fantasize about being able to just do nothing but still be able to afford to live. Perhaps be taken care of by someone wealthy haha It’s definitely not my primary fantasy though.and i have no idea if it’s autism related.

    Q10: I dont recall ever wandering off away from my mom when i was a child. I had separation anxiety so i didnt dare leave her side LOL Although now as an adult, I notice i do sort of slink off if I’ve had too much of a crowd. I don’t let people worry though, I tell someone where I am going usually unless they can still plainly see me (for example, at a party, I’ll go find the cat/dog in the house or go sit outside by myself. My close friends know this will eventually happen in most cases and dont worry about me, More often than not, they’ll come join me instead haha)

  58. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Persistent over time and changes too
    Q2: TMNT
    manatees and baby echidnas
    Q3: never had
    Q4: Yup
    Q5: Yeah
    Q6: Yea
    Q8: Yea
    Q9: Yup
    Q10: Sorta, I tell people tho because if I don’t i will get in trouble

  59. anonymous answers:

    Q1: In general I think they stay the same, but they have ebbs and flows. When I get a new interest it will be intense for a while, then it will fade a bit or I have to do other stuff. For example getting into cheesemaking or something. I remember a short term period as a kid when I was obsessed with biodegradeable packing peanuts, that didn’t last long. But other more enduring topics are just sort of part of me, I hardly think of them as special interests. It was difficult for me to identify them when I first heard about the topic, though I suppose other people were able to identify them in me easily enough.

    Q2: I’m interested in how the brain works, communication (especially non-verbal), making sculpture and drawing, writing, I’ve always liked rocks, horses and other animals. After my son was born he basically took up almost all my time and energy and I started doing more compatible things, like taking pictures, but the other things gnaw at me. I’ve had transient sudden interests that consume all available time as well: making cheese, beads, etc usually hands on activities, though some things are things I read about. Making things or holding things with my hands is one of the more calming things.

    Q3: Not sure; I don’t drink.

    Q4: I tend to sit sideways (feet over the other arm of the chair) or with my feet up on something, rather than the “proper” way, but I’ve wondered in recent years if this had something to do with my sudden low blood pressure drops, since keeping my feet up helps with that. I used to sit with my knees sideways all the time, but I have this issue where they lock up in that position and get very painful, so I sort of trained out of it.

    Q5: Most of my memories are pretty clear like this. They’re usually like video tracks, I can include sounds and smells, though the conversation is generally paraphrased or just implied (I don’t remember exact conversations very well). The visual input is the strongest. They’re usually not just instants, but longer.

    Q6: I definitely attribute feelings to inanimate objects, especially toys, but also other things. I generally don’t describe it this way because people make fun of me. I get very attached to objects and then get very upset if they are broken or I have to get rid of them, or if I see certain things, especially toys or something that someone made, abandoned or broken (even if that’s the first time I’ve seen it and I have no history with it). I sometimes say I feel sorry for the item to other people but I don’t usually explain it more because it’s something I get very emotional about and other people don’t understand.

    Q7: I don’t know… my sense of touch becomes much more sensitive. I may talk more than I normally would (and not in an intelligent way). I’m not sure if these things are autism specific. I tend to get obsessed with people I’m interested in to an unhealthy level.

    Q8: Yes, I frequently write down steps. I was just thinking the other day how it bothers me that some recipes have you do the wet ingredients first and then the dry ingredients, and how if I wrote a cook book I would always do it the other way. Because if you measure the wet ingredients first, then your measuring cups are wet and the dry ingredients stick to them, so you have to do dry first. If the recipe isn’t organized that way I have to reorganize it, and sometimes I get mixed up as a result, mismeasure, forget ingredients, or use the wet cup first anyway.

    Q9: Having spontaneously dropped unconscious, I didn’t care for it so I don’t fantasize about that and I try to prevent it. However, I often imagine living in the middle of nowhere, in a cave on a mountaintop in the middle of a forest or something with nobody else. Unfortunately I seem to need people for some reason, but it sounds nice. Also I grew up in a sort of isolated house in the forest so I intensely miss that and everywhere I’ve lived since seems too populated. Even though I’m now living in the country again, sometimes I’ll look out and somebody neighboring or recruited by the landlord will be visible outside doing maintenance or something unexpectedly and I feel horribly invaded and stressed.

    Q10: I did wander off, however, since I lived in the country it wasn’t so much of an issue. That is I didn’t get the sense that my parents were particularly concerned about it. Wandering off/getting lost in town was more of an issue when going somehere, however, I got lost once in a city when I was very small and it terrified me so I tended to try to stick close to my mother when we were in a city and hold on to her to avoid getting separated in crowds (I still do this sometimes). I also can’t recognize people very well and I get lost easily so that was an issue. When I was a kid I would wander off, lag behind on walks and end up alone taking lengthy shortcuts through the brush, or I would go off by myself. I would run off sometimes if I was upset in the middle of an argument, but in those cases I was usually pursued. More often I just walked off when I felt like it to walk in the woods in the day or night. At night I would climb out my window (unauthorized) and go out walking. I still liked to walk at night as an adult, and would even do it in town, though I preferred to do it in the country. I find it calming. Sometimes wanting to be alone is a factor, but sometimes I am already alone and I still go out. During sensory overload I specifically try to either go out, or shut myself into a small space or closet, in part to get away from people. Some people have a hard time understanding this. My ex husband wouldn’t let me shut myself away when I was upset or go out walking, especially at night, and this became a huge strain. Now that I have a child and live alone with him, I can’t go out walking all by myself, and it gets to me. Sometimes I go out at night and sit by myself nearby when he is asleep, but I’m afraid to walk off by myself as I have no one watching him. When I go to the beach I try to take a family member to stay with him so I can walk on the beach at night. It’s one of the biggest challenges of being a mother that I can’t wander of by myself. Also after some things I went through as an adult, I started to get scared easily alone which didn’t used to happen to me so that is another complication, plus the fact that if something happens to me it will be bad for my son, so I didn’t really consider personal safety before being a mother.

  60. Loving reading the responses to this one so far – but it took so long to do mine. Fascinating that the same interests keep coming up…

    1. Lifelong Topics – used to collect things eg. postcards, miniature bottles when I was a kid, but not now. Lifelong interests include psychology – we had a set of Time-Life science encyclopaedias and I was very attached to the ‘Mind’ one when I was a kid as it had optical illusions in it – I think my parents were worried it was unsuitable and would have preferred me to read the ‘Space’ one. Buildings and architecture were also special interest as a child that has remained with me – I spent hours drawing plans, building with lego and at age 10 had a subscription to a house design magazine rather than a girls magazine.

    2. Special interests – psychology, architecture, Asian culture (eventually spent some years living and travelling in Asia), comparative religion and philosophy, new technology, unusual photography, travel and organising travel, including maps, trains and boats (but not in a train spotter way).

    I also do a lot of swimming – but I don’t count it a a special interest as I don’t study or obsess on it – so I agree with previous posts here – much more like swimming as stimming – a wonderful combination of pacing, sensory pressure/resistance of water and also visually the cool interference patterns in the water.

    I do also get intensely hooked on subjects for short periods until my curiosity is satisfied – I buy books and read up on things on the internet. I also occasionally obsess on people and that generally ain’t good.

    3. Alcohol – moderate amount just makes me more talkative, my drunk stim is folding crisp packets into origami triangles. When I was in my 20s I remember getting very drunk and curling up under a table to get away from the noise/people – which seems pretty autistic in retrospect! Now I just fall asleep – even at parties – which is a bit rude!

    4. Sitting – yes I often sit in a way that puts pressure/twists on my arms or legs, or pinch myself as I sit – I think this is a sort of stationary stim in response to being told not to fidget as a kid.

    5. Memories – generally clear visual memories – can be triggered by smell or places – but not sure this is an ASD thing.

    6. Objects – probably do anthropomorphise a in a light hearted way, and I do talk to objects, animals, and myself quite a lot. Interested in some animistic religions which attribute souls to nature/objects.

    7. Arousal – probably become less verbal. No stims that I can think of. Preference for firm not light touch.

    8. Sequencing – generally a super-keen planner and organiser – this may be compensatory and a necessary mental rehearsal. Eg. I would be anxious trying a new recipe if I had guests coming, because of time pressure and unpredictability – I would want to do something familiar and tried and tested.

    9. Escaping – My fantasy as a child was that when I grew up I would live in a VW camper van with my best friend and drive round selling jewellery we had made. Sounds good. I sometimes find myself on the way to work or school getting a strong urge to get on a random bus or train and just keep going.

    10. Wandering – I think I was too compliant and rule-following to wander off without telling anyone, but as an older child and teenager I spent a lot of time walking on my own, and as an adult have done a lot of travelling on my own – which I guess is a sort of escaping/wandering off. If I am working in a busy office I need to get out for a walk at lunch time – and sometimes take bathroom breaks as a chance to sit and be quiet for 5 minutes.

  61. Better late than never – had a busy week but kept the email in my inbox to remind me! Another cracking survey 🙂
    1. Is the fascination with certain topics usually a life-long one, persistent over many years, or subject to change? See Q2
    2. What are your special interests and on what scale do you engage in them?
    Some topics are life-long such as crime (not committing it!) – I’ve been an avid reader of crime fiction since I was a child and ditto watching detective / police shows on tv, I wanted to be a detective when I was 8, and have always found the forensic side of things fascinating, and I’ve just completed a Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Likewise my fascination with ancient history, particularly the Greeks and Romans. Captivated as a kid and that grew into studying the subjects for A-Levels and now I’m just about to start a second Master’s degree, this time in Classical Studies. And I’m teaching myself Ancient Greek as a language. I’ve loads of books on the subject and various dvds too. If I see something advertised for a tv show on it I get all excited! I’m getting back into proper gardening (actively growing things with a greenhouse) and indulging my passion for reading by making it my mission to read all my books in about a year and a half. (I have a lot of books and this probably won’t include my classics books as I’d never get through them in time!). And I love learning about all kinds of stuff. I get subscriptions for different magazines on different topics just to learn something new – a year of nature, a year of British history, I’m now onto 6 months of steam trains (getting excited about that – just looking at the pictures makes me go ‘oh wow’). And I buy random books because the subject takes my fancy. But equally I can get all interested in something, buy several books on the subject and then not get as far as reading them. I intend to, it just doesn’t happen straight away. So I guess I’m mainly life-long but with some variations and new additions along the way. I also love mountains, especially Everest and K2 – but I’d never even contemplate climbing them (except in my head – I’ve summited Everest that way!)
    3. What effect does alcohol have on you, particularly on your executive function or stimming?
    I rarely drink and when I do it’s a glass or two of wine. I’ve been fairly drunk a few times when I was younger and my balance always went quickly and I’d start embarrassing myself, normally by making inappropriate comments or fooling around. I do wonder in hindsight if that was more me than people usually see – by that I mean that I was no longer working hard to follow all of society’s rules… I don’t know – first time that’s occurred to me. I’ve no idea how it affects my stimming as I don’t think I’ve really got drunk since I realised I was an Aspie – and I’m noticing more and more about myself now!
    4. I’m wondering if sitting all crossed-up in chairs is an ASD ‘thing.’ (i.e. do you do this?)
    Sometimes I do. I like sitting with one leg tucked up under me but my leg tends to seize up afterwards. It depends where I’m sitting – my current office chair isn’t really designed for it (it has arms) but I do in the armchair and in non-armed chairs (that sounds like funny). And sometimes on the sofa. I do get very fidgetty legs sometimes and I stim a lot by bouncing my legs up and down with my feet on the floor so need my legs untucked for that.
    5. Do you have some very specific memories? Such as “ah-ha!” moments that you can draw up much more clearly than most memories, involving not only a picture but feelings, perhaps sounds and smells etc. as well and the image is VERY clear whereas most memories are a thought.
    Most (or certainly a very great number) of my memories are very specific – particularly from the age of 5. Before that it’s more snapshots. Since then we’re talking more like shorter videos – very clear. Basically like re-living it, only not. Smells don’t come into those per se but certain smells can trigger emotions and memories and those memories are more fleeting glimpses. Church bells take me back to one moment in time – standing at a bus stop (pre-age 5) on a sunny afternoon – I can picture one moment and nothing else from it.
    6. Do you sometimes attribute feelings to inanimate objects? Do you feel like certain objects ‘want to’ be interacted with or will feel bad if you don’t use them? Do you explain some of your quirks in this way, for example thinking that street furniture or certain textures want to be touched/felt, rather than you want to touch them? Or does it feel this way but you translate it when talking to others?
    Yes. I sometimes feel bad if I take something off the shelf in a supermarket and swap it for something fresher if I think that others have done the same – it seems to me that it will be feeling unwanted and that the other items will pick on it. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t have feelings. I think I’ve got a lot ‘better’ at not doing this since I got a dog and my cats – I’ve got live things to attribute feelings to instead! (And I definitely attribute feelings there!). I always assumed this was just a ‘me’ thing!
    7. Does arousal influence you in an autism-specific way? As in: Do you overload easily when aroused? Does arousal influence, for example, your verbal reasoning skills than you feel would be “normal”? Do you stim when aroused? (for clarification: the questioner described this question as being “personal” so I think they are referring to sexual arousal, but answer in whatever way is comfortable for you)
    Sexually – I don’t think so but then I’ve been delightfully single for a long time. And not that fussed about sex anyway.
    8. Do you have difficulty with sequencing – working out the order in which you need to do things – for example if you were preparing an unfamiliar meal with several elements, would you have difficulty balancing them all without explicit planning and measurement in advance? Do you often realise you’ve done things in the wrong order or in a very inefficient way?
    I don’t have difficulty on the whole because I’m very fond of ordering things in my head (or on paper) before I start – I really enjoy it. It’s like making lists, it’s fun. Having said that, making meals is a bit hit and miss when it involves multiple items and they’re not microwave meals! I can’t do a fry up (not least because fried eggs are, as yet, beyond me) because things like sausages and bacon don’t have a definite time for how long they need to be cooked. Whereas a microwaved meal tells you exactly. So if sequencing involves precise timings that aren’t stand-alone (i.e. more than one action at a time) I struggle. But if its a case of doing one thing, finishing, then starting another and so I’m fine because I can happily work out the order first and then just start at the beginning and carry on.
    9. Is your primary fantasy ‘stopping’? In school, I used to fantasize about spontaneously dropping unconscious. As an adult, I fantasize about leaving the social system entirely. more details here

    Not a primary fantasy as such but yes I do fantasise about stopping in terms of sacking all my clients and starting again at something – only problem is that I’ve no idea what so practicality wins out. (Though I am going to sack some and spend some time writing and learning so there’s a compromise) And I do fantasise about moving to Scotland and finding a cottage with no-one nearby, peace and quiet and fields for me and the dog to roam in. Just existing in my own space and at my own pace – people still in the vicinity if I need them but not close enough to be in my life unless I let them in.

    10. We often hear about autistic children wandering off. Did you wander? Did you “disappear” frequently to the point that was upsetting to your family (or teachers?) Why did you wander off? What do you remember about it? Now that you are an adult do you still wander? Do you disappear (perhaps during sensory overload) without telling anyone that you need to remove yourself at this time? more details here

    No I didn’t wander – I wouldn’t have dared, my mother was quite strict and I was obedient. But I did go off with my sister (with parental approval) and we’d go further than they’d have guessed. Mind you, once we went up the road to the school and helped a teacher feed the pets – my sister obviously hadn’t told our parents where we were going as we were in big trouble when they found us! I couldn’t see why I was in trouble because I was with my sister and at school to boot…
    Now I have a dog and 2 cats to think about so I couldn’t go far and I’m not into going far from home anyway (very small comfort zone these days). But then I wander a lot into my thoughts – I can go anywhere in my head and that’s always been my escape. Physically I might have been at home, in the garden, but mentally I was in other countries, with other people or on my own, having adventures.

  62. anonymous answers:

    Q1: It depends on what the topic is. Trains has been for several years (because I have been going on them since I was a baby) while the bus system is something relatively new because I just started using it and knowing all the numbers and directions makes me happy.

    Q2: Out of 10, 10 being very much, 1 being very little.
    The bus system – 8
    Trains – 7
    Stargate -10
    Doctor who/ other scifi shows – 7
    Music beats of broadway musicals – 6

    Q3: I was on medication for anxiety and when I first had a drink I got very giggly(faster than normal). It made me very agetated and upset though and I had a lot more stimming because I coudln’t focus on not doing it as much.

    Q4: I curl up in chairs a lot, it makes me feel safe.

    Q5: Yes, they are almost a strong as the day they happened. I can also zoom out of a memory and look at everything else that was happening at that time.

    Q6: Yea sometimes. I would always get upset if my stuffed animals wern’t all loved and put in the right line up becuase they would get mad at me.

    Q7: I coo alot (vocal stimming possibly) when I am doing special time with my girlfriend.

    Q8: not really.

    Q9: I use to think about it becuaes that would mean everything would be quiet but I have had to learn that people are always going to be around and I will have to deal with them.

    Q10: In highschool I did have a bad habit of wondering in class. If i was stressed out or needed to stim i would leave and go for a walk, sometimes i didn’t even relize I had left the classroom. I now work at a summer camp and the boss knows I am an aspie so she knows that if it gets to loud I will just slip out for a few minutes while I get things in my head back under control. Even in Rez last year I would wander around the college at night. It was less of a problem when I was a child.

  63. anonymous answers:

    Q1: some are life-long, others are/were for some years, and some come and go.

    Q2: The most persistent and intense are / were:
    books and plants (collecting, herbary, taxonomy, use, herbology, …) – both life-long, but I don’t collect / catalogue filing boxes of record cards anymore. Still ‘The’ things I most easily get lost in (or go off on a conversation killing monologue).
    Languages (and reading about communication) – comes and goes by now; it is frustrating to see how the languages I learned still don’t help me to talk ‘the language’ everyone around me seems to use for communication.
    different letters/alphabets and philology – pretty intense obsession in my childhood, no longer by now (although I still switch to elvish writing in my diary at times).
    There is more, but I already have filled this box maybe too much.

    Q3: I don’t drink alcohol. I tried, in my teenage years, and I don’t like how it makes me feel. I get dizzy quickly and just feel awful (and it doesn’t need much).
    Function? errm….not much left of that, then.
    I don’t know about stimming.

    Q4: I don’t know if it is an ASD thing, and I am not diagnosed ASD. When I sit, I do sit cross-legged whenever & whereever possible. And trying to (or get as close to it as possible), whereever, whether “possible” or “appropriate” or not. I try to not … and mostly fail. It feels very ‘wrong’/uncomfortable when I have to sit “normal” on a chair, and makes it hard for me to focus on whatever it is why I have to sit there.
    I used to like sitting “all curled up” in a chair (or sofa or corner of bed) especially for reading, when I was young, but physical limitations keep me from doing that now.

    Q5: Yes. feelings, sounds, smells, pictures.

    Q6: Yes. Yes (more so when I was younger, less by now). No – I don’t think I have explained or even just talked about this ‘quirk’ before, and I didn’t think this about the textures I seem to want to keep touching/rubbing/feeling at times, I guess it is more like my fingers want/need to feel it. No – I haven’t talked to others about this before (I rather try to hide it when I catch myself.)

    Q7: I am not sure how to answer this. I am not sure I want to answer this. So I’d prefer to skip this now.

    Q8: Yes. Totally. Not so much with cooking/meals, though (here my autopilot seems to kick in and do a decent job most of the time). Measuring food makes me nervous and unfocused and unhappy. I’m not good at cooking when I have to follow a recipe (laboratory ‘recipes’ is no problem). But if I don’t focus on putting on my shoes, I easily end up with feet in shoes and socks in hand. Sorting and dealing with paperwork is my doom. I’ve started to write ‘to do’ lists for myself that include detailed instructions/reminders as of what paper goes back where in which step of the work-in-progress, and which paper to take out *before* going to the copy shop.
    And yes I do realize that the way I do things is very inefficient.

    Q9: If “disappearing” counts, and wishing for a rabbit hole big enough for me to jump in and just not be there, then yes.

    Q10: (Not sure if I should answer this, maybe I don’t fit in the group of people this survey is meant for, anyways.)
    I don’t remember doing this as a child, and I don’t remember getting in trouble for this or anyone complaining about it, when I was a child. We were pretty free to roam, and the evening bells told me to go home. On those occasions when I somehow “lost time” it was not much of a big deal. I can’t remember having had trouble getting home as a child (and had good spatial/geographic orientation, also loved maps and was the ‘navigator’ when we travelled).
    Sometimes I did (and do, more so nowadays) “disappear” during “social” things, usually just to the garden, or where there’s books (or the attic), or to the kitchen, so everyone knew where to find me anyways.
    I still haven’t learned to tell anyone when I need to remove myself from overload. I have a hard time knowing it myself before I shut off or get totally stressed out.

  64. anonymous answers:

    Q1: persistant

    Q2: science/math
    vocation and avocation

    Q3: go deaf, “cheap drunk” (over effected by all drugs), want to cuddle/nest/cocoon

    Q4: like cocooning/ hoodies/blankets for me

    Q5: yes, all associated with suddenly realized I was SO not understanding what was happening socially, and I was SO “inappropriate”

    Q6: Numbers have personalities.
    The truth of science has a visual image in my head – the most clear, complex, beautiful crystal you can bear to see……

    Q7: I don’t understand professional use of the word aroushal, or self-stimulation.
    I lose speech with sensory overload and I stim when anxious.

    Q8: I can be very organized as an intellectual challenge. But if I try to wing it in an overload situation (packing for a big trip) I usually get overwhelmed and blow it. Thank you for talking about this lately – helpful to me. Always thought I was organized. You show me the subtleties…

    Q9: I totally understand the question.
    My primary fantasy would be to be able to use my skills gifts and intelligences without having to sell my ideas to NT’s

    Q10: I would like to, and have, but have been told it is too distressing to whose around me.
    For some reason the very act of reporting in by phone removes a lot of the relief achieved by just “disappearing”

  65. 1) all of the above

    2. What are your special interests and on what scale do you engage in them?
    music – I listen to music and glom onto certain artists, genres, etc. I also sing and hum a LOT. Music is my longest term special interest
    movies – enjoy learning about them and I watch them in a very intense, engaged way and think of them long after. This has been a special interest since my teens (tv before that)
    history – I get attached to certain eras and learn all I can about them, sometimes writing novels based in a certain place and time.
    psychology – interests me a lot
    architecture – I enjoy looking at old buildings.

    3. What effect does alcohol have on you, particularly on your executive function or stimming?
    It breaks down self-control/filters, which is freeing but also scary, and I don’t drink now. I don’t know the effect on stimming.

    4. I’m wondering if sitting all crossed-up in chairs is an ASD ‘thing.’ (i.e. do you do this?) – I definitely do this and have always done this, but now my knee is messed up, so I have been trying to straighten it more.

    5. Do you have some very specific memories? Such as “ah-ha!” moments that you can draw up much more clearly than most memories, involving not only a picture but feelings, perhaps sounds and smells etc. as well and the image is VERY clear whereas most memories are a thought.

    All my memories are more than a thought. Definitely a picture. Feelings return, etc.

    6. Do you sometimes attribute feelings to inanimate objects? Do you feel like certain objects ‘want to’ be interacted with or will feel bad if you don’t use them? Do you explain some of your quirks in this way, for example thinking that street furniture or certain textures want to be touched/felt, rather than you want to touch them? Or does it feel this way but you translate it when talking to others?

    Sometimes I feel like articles of clothing are sad for not being worn in a long time, and pens not being written with.

    7. Does arousal influence you in an autism-specific way? As in: Do you overload easily when aroused? Does arousal influence, for example, your verbal reasoning skills than you feel would be “normal”? Do you stim when aroused? (for clarification: the questioner described this question as being “personal” so I think they are referring to sexual arousal, but answer in whatever way is comfortable for you)

    Sexually — the sensation of arousal itself doesn’t cause me to overload, but a light touch will. I don’t stim when aroused. Arousal generally dispels if I open my eyes.

    General arousal – if I’m happy excited, I’ll jump up and down and clap my hands, unless social strictures prohibit it, in which case I’ll tone it down

    8. Do you have difficulty with sequencing – working out the order in which you need to do things – for example if you were preparing an unfamiliar meal with several elements, would you have difficulty balancing them all without explicit planning and measurement in advance? Do you often realise you’ve done things in the wrong order or in a very inefficient way?

    Not really. But if I have to do that while talking to someone, YES.

    9. Is your primary fantasy ‘stopping’? In school, I used to fantasize about spontaneously dropping unconscious. As an adult, I fantasize about leaving the social system entirely.
    Yup. I fantasize about leaving the social system.

    10. We often hear about autistic children wandering off. Did you wander? Did you “disappear” frequently to the point that was upsetting to your family (or teachers?) Why did you wander off? What do you remember about it? Now that you are an adult do you still wander? Do you disappear (perhaps during sensory overload) without telling anyone that you need to remove yourself at this time?
    As a kid, I didn’t wander. I’d be too scared of getting lost or abducted. Now I disappear mentally without telling anyone. Physically, I’d tell someone unless I was so overloaded that I couldn’t articulate it.

  66. 1. Special interests are life long for me, in the sense that they tend to have a common theme. For me it is engineering and physics. Over the years I have been absorbed in a particular aspect relating to these themes. For example astronomy, telescopes radio and visual, or motorcycles, from how they work to how they are manufactured to how they go arounf corners.

    2. I get quite absorbed one could say obsessed with a subject, almost all my spare time and thought is devoted to understanding the subject. With ref to answer to question 1, I have been trying to think of what the trigger is to stop spending so much time on a subject, but no conclusions at the moment. I have not read all the comments but anybody can say why they change subjects or aspects of their interest, What triggers it?

    3. Alcohol, relaxes first so less anxiety then if I drink too much all the most undesirable aspects of poor executive function come out. So quite expected really. I like the taste of beer so I will prob never give it up completely but as I am usually driving my alcohol intake is limited and occasional.

    4. I like to stretch out, I have a number of injuries from crashing motorcycles which makes it uncofortable if I cannot stretch. And I do not like to feel trapped which I think has an influence ob this. Airplane travel is difficult for me. I want to walk around and stretch out. In flight I usually try to sit at the back of the plane near the cabin crews station as they have the lights on and there is space to move about.

    5. Occasionally with memories I get the aha moment of clarity, but try to avoid those as they are usually bad memories.

    6. Yes about attributing aspects of personality to inanimate objects, but only when messing around and this feeling lingers afterwards. I am not a tactile person and generally dislike any type of texture.

    7. I am not aware of arousal affecting me in any particular autistim specific way.

    8. No sequencing, ordering and scheduling is something I find so natural now and changing and adapting is something I have had to get used to from some of the jobs I have done. One job as a motorcycle courier in London requires that you are given jobs over the radio, (in the busy 80’s and early 90’s) you could have more than 4 jobs on at any one time. different destinations with jobs constantly being added. So constantly updating your route and order of jobs depending on priority and location of collection and destination of the parcels. On a simple scale has made this aspect easier in the rest of my life.

    9. The fantasy of stopping has been the primary one throughout my life, just stronger sometimes.

    10. Yes a very big YES on the wandering, trying to escape or just getting a break from a situation. I find as I look back on my 50 odd years I can see when I have been the most stressed, anxious etc by the amount of time I spent travelling / wandering. .

  67. 1. All of the above.There’s a grouping of life-long interests that I envision like a word-tag cloud, and then the other interests branch off of that like one of those mind-map graphics. I’ll have topics of interest that might wax and wane, but remain in the foreground for 1-3 years. Then there are daily topics that might arise from something I read online; I fall down a lot of Wikipedia or YouTube or whatever rabbit holes and might waste 2-4 hours researching something if it piques my interest. (I have a terrible time with Internet-based procrastination and have to consciously work at not spending my whole life on hoarding information!)
    2. Technology, ecology, birdwatching, literature, writing, gardening/farming, photography, arts & crafts, animals, food, travel. Try to do a little of something every day, might just be putter in the garden, spend time with my pets, go for a walk, etc. Vacations or weekend road trips help with getting more in-depth experiences.
    3. Alcohol makes me feel like I lose the “glass wall” that always separates me from other people…I feel more socially “normal,” able to talk, more confident, less anxious and behaviorally constrained. I have to keep it to a certain limit tho bc I start to freak out after a while and feel too disconnected from myself physically in space. If I’m around people I don’t know well, like at a party, I’ll smoke or drink more bc of nerves. If there are animals around I will gravitate to them, or go find a quiet corner or empty room if I feel like I need to de-stress from the overstimulation. This is the most frustrating part of Aspie-ness for me. I hate that overwhelmed feeling but I can’t turn it “off” or circumvent it, it just “is” and it makes me feel so defenseless. 😦
    4. Haha, yes, I am doing the pretzel thing right now! My mom was constantly telling me to stop fidgeting when I was a kid. 🙂 I get cranky if I have to sit still for too long. When I’m at home I either sit on the floor or pretzel up on the couch, and sit yoga-style. I fidget, tap the arms of the chair, twist my feet around the legs, etc. I do that thing a lot where I’ll bend one foot sideways & stack one foot on the other. I was delighted to see that this is apparently an Aspie thing and that there is a therapist who makes note of it:
    5. I think that for most of my memories, I can put myself back in time almost and mentally re-experience it like I was there. I remember the surroundings distinctly, breeze, sometimes thoughts, etc. One thing I can’t remember well though is conversations, which makes me sad over time, especially after loved ones pass.
    6. This is interesting! I think I do this, like something will feel “lonely” if it doesn’t interacted with enough, but not like it is a little person or anything. I have the same sense about abandoned houses…like it has something to do with the lingering traces of energies that used to be there, it’s like being more sensitive to those former uses or something. Some sort of “essence of be-ing,” maybe. I feel uncomfortable in places that feel neglected & it makes me sad. Can’t always explain why or how it feels to people.
    7. Yes, when I feel anxiously overloaded or overstimulated, I get more “batty” or “dotty” and just act weird/indecisive, go in circles, babble anxiously, do things more repetitively, etc. Like my brain short-circuits and I can’t make decisions. It’s embarrassing and I don’t like feeling out of control, but again, can’t help it and can’t circumvent it! The only outlet is hide or escape. 😦 It’s very distressing! I probably stim a little more when overloaded. Regarding the sexual aspect of it, uh…sometimes it is like way too much sensory overload for me. It’s not easy and makes dating or having a SO difficult, and again, it can be very anxiety-inducing and/or embarrassing. People don’t understand and it’s hard to explain that you have issues with something that should generally be a good thing, right? I wasn’t diagnosed until 35, so I have a lifetime of general (not just sex) sensory-overload defensiveness, shame, and anxiety built up that I am still trying to work through. It fills me with regret that I didn’t know about ASD when I was younger; most of my anxiety is perception-specific and I cried for years and years over how *hard* it seemed for me to interact with people and with public places. I never knew why it was so *hard* and I felt so defective.
    8. I’d run into trouble with sequencing for work tasks moreso than home-tasks. I could usually catch my error and make up for it quickly enough, but I’d always berate myself for not foreseeing it. I get supremely frustrated with myself when I realize how my logic has failed and feel like I ought to have been more rational or been able to see it sooner. Have a lot of perfectionism issues so doing something wrong when I’m used to being right is maddening. 🙂 Sometimes if I am tired & have been working on something for a long time only to discover a sequence error, that jarring default is enough to derail my work for days, weeks, or worse, months! I never completed my master’s degree due to having issues like this with my thesis, and I’m still ashamed of that all of these years later. I wasn’t diagnosed at the time, thought my problems were my fault & meant that I was too stupid to be in grad school (despite having a 3.6-3.8 GPA), so I quit the program after finishing all of my classes. :/
    9. YES! During high school, I begged my parents to let me homeschool myself, because school was boring and I was bullied terribly from 6th-12th grade. It took me forever to get through college. I actually ended up having a sort of breakdown as an adult that led me to not working for almost a year & 1/2, because I’d reached a state of complete, utter burnout. I’ve talked with a number of people on Wrong Planet who’ve also relayed stories of adult Aspie burnout; apparently it’s a well-known thing in the community but hardly any researchers have studied it extensively yet. I think it’s because we have to expend so much energy to pass and to succeed in NT society, eventually your executive function energy levels plummet and you need time to reset. I would love to be my own boss and work from home or have my own store. I need a flexible work schedule and that can be really hard to find.
    10. Yes, I ‘wandered’ out of high school a few times and disappeared to go hide in my neighbor’s horse barn or in the woods down by the creek. I never thought of it as wandering until I learned more about ASD. As a kid, I was always outside in the woods or with the animals, or holed up in my room reading or on the computer. My parents thought I was just remarkably self-sufficient and chalked it up to me being an only child, but I am grateful that they gave me all the time I needed to just do my own thing.
    As an adult, yeah, I will disappear when I need a sensory break. (Just happened yesterday, in fact!) Friends/family get frustrated sometimes and will comment if I was away for too long, so I feel like I make a lot of excuses to cover for needing a break…”I was feeling lightheaded” or “I needed some fresh air,” stuff like that. It caused me trouble at work…I’m a crier and when I get upset and feel overwhelmed, I feel anxious & confused by why I’m upset, so it becomes a big ball of woe that makes me cry harder. It’s impossible to stop once I’ve gotten started. I’d have to go hide in the ladies’ room or my car, and my absence would always be noted…plus the telltale red face & eyes, made me feel like a big baby or unprofessional. Then there’s a sensory rebound from the crying that makes me feel exhausted & I have to go sleep it off. Being an Aspie is very physically uncomfortable a lot of the time! 😦
    Now that I have my own place & live alone, I hide out at home a lot. (Bliss!) When I have the opportunity to do so, I love camping and hiking. Nothing is more refreshing than time spent outdoors!!! ❤

  68. P.S. I just wanted to say that I am very grateful for this blog & the community here. I’m learning so much from what others are sharing of their experiences, and it makes me feel so much less alone. Thank you!!! *hugs to everybody*

  69. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Mine have been largely lifelong, with slight variations of the same thing.

    Q2: My special interests are related to countries/cultures and cities. I am fascinated by the subtle ways that different places to do the same things differently. Unfortunately I find travelling extremely hard, which makes me very sad, because in theory that would be the most amazing thing to me.

    Q3: No different to anyone else I don’t think.

    Q4: YES! I almost always have my legs up on my chair or else the desire to sit cross-legged on the floor. I find my concentration about a million times better if I can sit with my legs up close to me. I think that it has to do with then allowing me to rock and also the pressure that my legs feel help me to feel ‘safe’.

    Q6: I do attribute feelings to inanimate objects. To me, all objects are either a 1 or a 2. It is hard to explain what that means exactly, but all objects have a feeling. I think it is somewhat like synesthesia. All objects that are 2’s are ‘my kind of things’ and all objects that are 1’s are not ‘my kind of things’. An example would be that to me a banana is a 1 and an apple is a 2. Its not that I like apples better than bananas, it is just the way they ‘feel’ to me. It’s very hard to explain.

    Q7: I find it very overwhelming when it involves someone else and therefore me not being in control of my sensory input. Unfortunately I would go as far as saying it is usually quite a traumatic experience.

    Q8: I am a very logical and sequential thinking person. However despite planning and knowing that the best way for me to cope is to do things sequentially, I get scattered very quickly and then overwhelmed. I have to work really hard to make myself stick to the ‘rules’ that I set myself when doing a multistep task, or else I will be completely overloaded and then achieve nothing.

    Q9: I do think about this a lot. I think about it more as ‘running away’, though to be honest I don’t want to run anywhere, just literally to be nowhere. I guess what I mean when I feel like that is that I just want to no longer exist. I often think that the only way to achieve this in real life would be be to be in a permanent hospital of sorts.

    Q10: I do disappear when I am overloaded, but it is usually that I get ‘stuck’ rather than wandering away. For example, if I am overloaded and need to get home I may just get stuck trying to get to the bus stop and be sitting there for hours in distress and unable to organise the steps (and energy) to get up and do all the little things that need to happen to get me home. Eventually I have to break it down into the tiniest steps like “get up, then walk 20 steps, then open my wallet, then get out bus ticket…” I actually have on my phone a social story that I put together of photos between uni and my home so that if I get overloaded I have sequential visual cues to get me from A to B.

  70. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Subject to change, although my fascination with chemistry has lasted three years and counting.

    Q2: Psychology (especially borderline and self-defeating personality disorders, depression, anxiety), ASD (and self-diagnosis, especially), Chemistry. I tend to spend a lot of time looking up things (ASD less so now that I’m comfortable with my self diagnosis) and I infodump on people, but I wouldn’t say it interferes with my ability to get other stuff done (although my parents would disagree on that).

    Q3: Never tried it. I did drink a very small amount of alcohol at a party, with no noticeable difference in anything.

    Q4: All the time. The pressure feels awesome.

    Q5: No. The closest to that is elephants at the Singapore Zoo. I was almost three at the time, and it’s a picture (I can’t even bring up an image of anyone’s face in my mind, so it’s a big deal that this memory is a picture not a thought). No feelings, sounds or smells, though.

    Q6: No… I have deep emotional attachments to objects, but I still see them as inanimate.

    Q7: N/A. Zero sex drive.

    Q8: I tend to do things in the correct order, but in a very inefficient way (the way I ensure things are done in the correct order is by creating each element of the meal in the order it’s presented in the original recipe, even if that’s the most ridiculous way to do it. I can’t sequence on my own. For school assignments, I ask a teacher or classmate to sequence the stuff for me. For cooking, I find a recipe.

    Q9: My primary fantasy is a system of imaginary friends because they’re easier than real-life friends (I can control them and create them, so I understand their body language, needs, wants, fears, dreams etc. and I know what they’re thinking of me). I did have a recurring fantasy of having a needle in my heart draining all the blood from my body (despite a fear of needles in every other scenario). I also fantasise a great deal about suicide.

    Q10: I like to pace a lot. And I take a walking route where possible because the walking feels good (even if the exercise and sore muscles and summer heat don’t). I like to go on long walks without a specified destination. When I was avoiding going home (family difficulties making home feel unsafe), I’d walk around places until I couldn’t put off going home any longer. Not an adult yet, but nearly one and I still wander. As a child, I was never left alone for long enough to wander anywhere. Even as a young adolescent (13-15), my mother was always hovering. I couldn’t even be in my bedroom alone most of the time. I do occasionally just disappear, although I was taught that leaving without saying goodbye is rude so I rarely do that.

  71. anonymous answers:

    Q1: My fascination usually fades out after a while to the point I completely forget about something I used to spend all days with but it almost always comes back at some point, as strong as it used to be.
    Music might be considered the only life-long special interest I have but i don’t really see it that way – I get focused on different eras, genres or instruments or even every detail of one certain song, so there’s not really one constant thing I’m obsessed about.

    Q2: Music, as I mentioned. This one involves just listening to music almost all the time, learning to play some instruments as much as my poor coordination allows me (and singing at almost professional level), exploring as much theory I can with only basic education.

    “A Song of Ice and Fire”/”Game of Thrones”. I’m very much into book/series universum. How things work there actually interests me more than the series itself and I read it only for facts. I’m in love with costumes in the show though. I’m deep into fan theories about actually everything that happened.

    Preindoeuropean languages/cultures. I just want to know the Origins of Everything and those peoples seem like the most interesting part of those origins of origins for me right now. Sometimes I stop a conversation for a second to point out how old origins of some words might be. I know how difficult it is for me to carry on and for someone else to follow my train of thoughts but it’s something that cannot be helped.

    Tarsiers. That’s pretty extreme one – I don’t often get obsessed about only one species but tarsiers are so fascinating!

    Q3: I don’t focus on my behavior much when I’m drinking so I can’t really answer this question. Although I can say I stim more while recovering from a hangover.

    Q4: So much yes! I’m doing this all my life, putting my feet on the ground only during formal occasions or choir rehearsals. Sometimes it seems like the less comfortable my pose seems for everyone else the more comfortable it actually is for me.

    Q5: Every piece of memory can come back to me, crystal clear to the poit of being almost painful and it keeps popping up for a while after destroying completely my ability to focus. I’ve never wondered if those are triggered by anything; if so – definitely by music (even not a certain tune, only something with a certain vibe).

    Q6: That’s how I treat my electronic devices. All my computers and cellphones had names and certain characteristics. Maybe it’s just easier for me to say that “M. doesn’t approve of me watching too much youtube videos” than trying to figure out, what is wrong at which point when I only know as much about how internet works as I need for everyday use. But sometimes it really seems to me like they understand my affectionate “you little bastard”.

    Q7: My sensory issues make me overloaded easily to the point of feeling every pleasant experience mixed with pain or getting completely numb. I don’t think it has any other effect on me.

    Q8: I try to figure out every step in a way it makes most sense to me in overall process, so when I make a mistake at some point I don’t have to start over again, just take a step back and fix it at some point. But it requires time to prepare myself for preparations and I don’t always have it. And things get one hell of worse whenever someone is distracting me – I can completely loose the track of the procedure and ruin it completely because someone said something to me when I was to focus on the next step.

    Q9: I wish of my own sensory deprivation tank if that counts.
    I also want to stop times very often. It just runs in some crazy way I understand in theory but can’t get myself in tune with it.

    Q10: Yes, I did. I never thought much about what I was doing. I was a responsible child so I never left the area my parents would possibly find me (at least that was how I saw that). There were various reasons: sometimes something in other place caught my attention, sometimes I was recreating a scene from my favourite movie or book.
    In my school years I started using this urge in more creative and socially acceptable way like wandering around my city with a camera early in the morning or just going jogging.
    To me it seems like less extreme version of the urge to disappear from some specific events and it might be caused by higher level of stress but it can also be a natural way to relax by dissolving my sense of self and becoming transparent.

  72. anonymous answers:

    Q1: subject to change

    Q2: animals—I have 3 dogs and I pet sit for others.
    music—I know a lot of music and know voices and can tell who is singing and remember many names of musicians.

    Q3: I do not drink. I have taste wine, mead and beer, but I have never been drunk.

    Q4: I do this. I am a dancer and I am pretty flexible, so sometime sitting that way feels more comfortable.

    Q5: I cannot think of one.

    Q6: Yes. I am not sure how to explain it, but I think this is true for me.

    Q7: I think in sexual arousal as well as sensory arousal, I become flooded and feel overwhelmed. It would depend on the specific situation—-sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my thoughts when I am in a quiet place like my therapist’s office. Sometimes at church, I feel “aroused”—–overstimulated in a mostly positive way, connecting with music, words, thoughts, people, etc. I usually need a nap or quiet time alone after that.

    Q8: I think I am pretty good at this, though I often write out lists and write very specific lists if there is a specific order I want to do things in. I think I am fairly efficient, but it may be I just work in a way that seems most efficient to me.

    Q9: I have a specific memory, one that I have recalled lately of being a young child (maybe around 6 or 8 years-old: being in school and looking out of the classroom being focused on the patterns of a brick wall, also thinking that I could just escape, my body evaporating or slipping out of my clothes. Thinking maybe other people could do this too.

    Q10: I think I wander off in school, though I was a good student and got good grades. As an adult, my mind wanders: not losing touch with reality, but like being in 2 or more realities at once. When I feel overloaded, I may have thoughts and images of self-harm.

  73. anonymous answers:

    Q1: I have some topics that I’ve had a life-long fascination with, and others that seem to be a temporary fad.

    Q2: LEGO – I buy and build sets fairly frequently, especially to reward myself and/or to help me through difficult/stressful times.
    Video games – I work in games, I play games every day. I watch a few critical series on games and read articles frequently.
    Cooking – not as much as I used to, because now my kitchen is smaller and harder to work in. But I still enjoy it.
    Japanese – I don’t engage in this on the same scale as I used to, but I try to study/listen to Japanese at least 3x a week.

    Q3: I think I stim more when drinking. I move much more. I repressed many of my “embarrassing habits” due to bullying before finding out my status as an Aspie, so when I feel comfortable or uninhibited, I let them out more.
    I do have an odd reaction to alcohol that I didn’t realize that my allistic friends do not have. When drinking I frequently hit a point where I feel incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin. I feel the need to stretch, move, drink water, and get up and move around. Everything on my body has a dull ache during this phase, which is usually around ~3 drinks. I’m not sure what it is. I can say that I’ve never drank to the point of being drunk, only buzzed, and never drank to the point of even having a hangover the next day.

    Q4: I love doing this, but can no longer do it for long periods of time due to a pelvic injury. It really bothers me that I can’t. 😦 I still do it anyway, and find myself stiff & sore when it gets to be too much for my injury.

    Q5: I’ve always had a photographic memory. I can remember many things from my childhood very specifically.

    Q6: I anthropomorphize inanimate objects all the time. I have conversations with inanimate objects and the people in my video games and the cat. I have that sort of relationship with my car and other machinery, where I try to talk to it like a person who I need to persuade to do certain work. “Come on car, stop making that noise. Please work.” I argue with my GPS. “Recalculating…” “Of course you are, jerk. Why didn’t you tell me about that turn sooner?”

    Q7: I have been told that I am “abnormal” in my desire for/enjoyment of sex. Apologies if this gets too personal, but “you asked…” 🙂 (Also, I am not writing this to brag.)
    Sex is an intense experience for me. I’ve never not been able to have an orgasm with my partner, excepting my first 2 or 3 experiences with intercourse. Every sex session I have multiple orgasms, often lasting through most of the sexual experience. (Not intended for bragging, just to illustrate the point.)
    I’ve been told that this is very unusual for women, to the point that a previous partner called me “a freak.” (He was emotionally abusive, but that’s another story at the moment.) I think that answers what you were asking? So yes, I overload when aroused. Certain kinds of touch can be too much as well, and I react as if tickled.

    Q8: YES. I am a TERRIBLE cook if I’m trying to cook on my own. If I have instructions, I am a pretty good cook. I made Thanksgiving dinner last year, by following an Alton Brown “Good Eats” special _to the letter_. There were only three of us eating, so I ended up making WAY too much food because I didn’t think to halve the amount of food in some of the recipes because of the way they were interrelated to the cooking of the turkey, which couldn’t be halved. But I watched his special every day for 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving, and wrote notes, wrote down the schedule as he gave it, and followed it all to the letter. Food turned out great, but there was so much of it I was embarrassed.
    I do the same thing with driving or other tasks sometimes – I can take the most inefficient method of doing something because it’s the first way I learned and that’s the only way I know how to do it until I either sit down & plan out something better (not always easy or possible) or am shown a better way.

    Q9: I also fantasize about leaving the social system. I want to drop out of the rat race and go live somewhere that’s just me & do whatever I want for work remotely & not have to see people for days on end. If I won the lottery or something where I didn’t have to work every day for a living, I would do it. I frequently fantasize about getting financially comfortable to the point that I could just drop out of society & do what I want & work when I want. I’ve even picked up a couple books about how to disappear from society, out of curiosity/a desire to know more.

    Q10: As a kid I didn’t wander much. I did wander a couple times, like when I really wanted to go to a bouncy house at an amusement park, but my parents were too busy arguing to hear me ask, so I just went. At home though, I didn’t wander much, because I lived in a rural place, so there wasn’t much to see, and the neighbors saw me & called my mom to complain & she would always punish me when she got home, so I stopped wandering outside & found a nice spot inside to hide. I’d climb in the back of my closet & sit there & read.
    My grandparents lived less than a mile away, so I’d sometimes go over to their place and climb up into the hay loft in their barn & relax up there, too, if I wanted to get away.
    Now I disappear at work for a bit if I need to get away. I’ll either hide in the bathroom, or head to the gym and work out by myself. The gym is usually empty, so I don’t need to deal with other people, and I’ve got music in my headphones and a book on my kindle. At home, I just stay at home and ignore everything for a while if I need to get away. I don’t always get what I want this way, though, because I’m a single mom, so I have to make sure I take care of my son. He’s also on the spectrum, though, so sometimes he just wants to hibernate as well.

  74. anonymous answers:

    Q1: fascination for some topics are persistent for quite a period of time, but for some they tend to change quickly.

    Q2: reading books and comics, knowing and collecting stats. i am obsessed with the first one, enjoy doing the second one

    Q3: havent consumed alcohol yet….

    Q4: i tend to sit in positions that my friends consider weird
    i do tend to cross up

    Q5: i have very specific details stored upon in my memory and i often forget the important things that others often remember. yes the details are clear.

    Q6: no

    Q7: no

    Q8: for whatever i need to do, i always prefer knowing accurate details beforehand about the activity in question. yes i hate to do things in an inefficient way and it bothers me lot

    Q9: i do have some strange fantasies. they are not in line with yours, but i often felt the urge to escape the trappings of a society.

    Q10: i guess i used to wander when i was young. i still continue to do it but am smart enough to find my way back. i used to experience sensory overload when i visit new and unfamiliar places.

  75. anonymous answers:

    Q1: life-long

    Q2: I love anime, manga, video games, doctor who (I’m seen as the typical geek/nerd). Painting, drawing, photography, cleaning, building, crafts, diy stuff, survival, zombies,

    I can spend hours and even days on one of these things at a time (sometimes I’ll refuse to go to bed at night because I’m caught up in it)

    Q3: It seems to dull my senses so the best time for me to drink is when I’m overly stimulated.

    Q4: I do this on couches, chairs, cars, I’m breastfeeding and its how I’ll sit to breastfeed. I feel extremely uncomfortable when sitting and I can’t sit that way (someone asks me not to, in a plane.. ect)

    Q5: I can remember things like back when I was two in extremly great detail, but you ask me about things when I was in 5-9th grade and it gets extremely vague

    Q6: Since I was little I’ve come to have this belief that everything is alive. Has spirit. People have given me strange looks when I say things like that. I like playing tarot cards because the cards choose me.

    Q7: I have a partner and I get overstimulated when I orgasm. So much I actually have a tendency to faint.

    Q8: I can’t bake I swear I follow recipes to a “T” but it always turns out poison (and anyone else who makes it can make it yummy). That’s probably why. But I’m good at cooking stews. Its probably because I chuck everything in at once–but it always turns out.

    Q9: I fantasize about fainting and when very close to being overly stimulated I’ll sit down and wont respond to others. To them it looks like I’ve fallen asleep and refuse to wake up.

    Q10: All the time. When I was little and we went to parks and malls–it was my mothers worst nightmare. I don’t think she worried as much at home because we lived in a farmhouse surrounded by cornfields (I could only go so far,)

    I can be in a small group of people and I’ll just up and leave and some of the others will get upset that I leave while they are in the middle of talking.

  76. 1. All of that. For example, my big primary interest as a kid was animals, but the kind of animals and the aspects changed over time. I also have interests now that I didn’t have at all as a kid. Generally, my insight in the world has developed a lot and become much more complex. When I was a kid “learning” about a topic was mainly about categorising variations and rote learning rules of thumb, while now learning is about understanding systems, dynamics, complexities – now it is in-depth learning.

    (in this regard I am so glad that I am not a kid anymore!)

    2. I’m not sure if I have special interests. I do have strong interests. The topics that I have been researching most intensely through reading is canines – mainly behaviour/social dynamics (particularly wolves), and aspergers/autism. However, I don’t explore only these topics and I don’t study mainly through reading but mainly through observing, sensing and thinking. Actually my core interest is something else, of which both canine behaviour and autism are just branches, I just find it hard to explain what it is. Perhaps sociology (broadly and including animal behaviour, but excluding most of the aspects most sociological studies focus on) is the topic that comes closest.

    I’m also fascinated by space and like to read about the solar system, but I only read easily accessible and preferably highly visual books about it.

    What scale I engage in them: I am not sure how to answer that question, I would like some “metrics” to measure that. I absorb all relevant information I encounter (if I feel it is proper information and not just some emotional blah blah) and collect information, and I spend most of my time reading or learning about things that interest me. However, a lot of the time it is just habit and there is a huge difference in how much I concentrate when I really switch on, and when I read about something out of habit.

    3. I don’t tolerate alcohol very well, but it generally has a positive social effect; I’m get relaxed, tolerant and extravert if I drink wine, for example. I haven’t noticed any other effects, but I assume it has a negative impact on my executive function skills since it does that on most people. I haven’t noticed any stimming-effect.

    4. “Sitting all crossed-up in chairs”: I wish there was a picture, because I am not sure what it means. If it means sitting with the legs drawn up in chairs, or in what some call “lotus position” in chairs, then yes I do that most of the time at home, and when I’m not home too if I don’t remind myself frequently to not do it. I generally move a lot around in sitting positions and take the legs up and rearrange them a lot, shift my weight etc. I can’t sit comfortable in a position for very long, and particularly not with the legs down on the floor (like the position people are expected to sit in for many hours in an office)

    5. Some memories stand out, but I am not sure if that is what is being asked. I am also not sure what is meant by “most memories are a thought”. All my memories are images and animations usually with some added details (e.g. smell, or a breeze)

    6. No. Personalities (sometimes) but not feelings; I don’t expect my car to feel hurt if it gets dent, for example.

    7. No, I don’t think so.

    8. Yes essentially, but I have become quite good at it in the last 5 years or so. I can be really good at sequencing now as long as I’m doing something I feel familiar with.

    9. No, but when I am very depressed then I may fantasise about vanishing, not necessarily suicide but simply leave everything behind (the whole people world) and only relate with my immediate, sensory-based surroundings.

    When I was a kid and found school incredible stressful, I could “vanish mentally” into for example a colour pattern, or an imaginary quiet frozen lake in a world where there was no people at all.

    10. I would have said no until I read Cynthia’s answer to this question:

    10. I do wander at times. Usually when I’m feeling overloaded–for example, when we’ve reached the checkout line after a long shopping trip, I might drift off while my husband is finishing up the transaction. He’s actually called it wandering, though for me it just feels like I’m, I don’t know, hanging out in the vicinity of where I need to be. […] I’m also prone to wandering off to unused parts of a place during a social event, both to get some quiet and because I’m curious.

    I do the same thing, not with my husband but if I’m with a group going somewhere. It is actually the rule more than the exception that I get away from a group that I’m supposed to be with, in crowded places. I don’t deliberately “wander off”, I just sort of explore and drift, and don’t notice that the people I’m supposed to be with are no longer nearby.

    If I’m at a party (but usually I’m not – I don’t go to parties) I may leave without telling anyone. That is just because I can’t stand being there anymore, and it is too difficult to find people and communicate with them through all the noise et.c. and through the context they are in, in order to tell them that I need to get out.

    I also prone to go exploring obscure corners out of curiosity and to get a break from people.

  77. anonymous answers:

    Q1: New ones get added, most do not go away.

    Q2: Ballet and specific other dance forms, hours daily & became professional; wood working, infrequent compulsive hobby; home repair/design, compulsive hobby; costuming/clothing design, hours daily, became a professional; research, hours daily, became professional; creative arts (painting, drawing, sculpting, cross-stitching), compulsively, intermittently.

    Q3: I haven’t noticed a difference, except of course with drunkenness.

    Q4: Yes, I cannot sit straight in a chair for the life of me. I’m particularly flexible, which makes this even more bizarre. However, I am a dancer, and this is normal for dancers, regardless of neuro status.

    Q5: Yes.

    Q6: Sometimes, but not strongly.

    Q7: Sexual arousal can overload me, yes. I don’t notice a change in stimming.

    Q8: Yes and no. Sometimes I feel superhuman (and others have remarked about it) in my ability to do things in a good order and get into a groove multitasking. This is usually during low-stress/specific hormone periods in my life. Other times, I look back on something or someone points out a glaring inefficiency and it’s downright silly.

    Q9: Yes. Or effectively defending myself and my loved ones.

    Q10: Yes, and I still wander. It never bothered my family, because my very young wanderings were never far at all, and they were laid back. Later, we were homeschooled and would be allowed to take off after finishing our work for as long as we wanted. Even so, I was sometimes hard to find. I literally climbed up on the roof of our 2 story house in high school quite often to get away. My mom never knew. My husband has complained many times about my leaving while he’s home and not telling him. It’s been hard work trying to learn to let him know before I go, especially if I think he’ll object. I wander because I need to collect myself.

  78. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Depends. Some come and go quickly, some persist.

    Q2: They vary, and so does my involvement. From total neglect to total immersion.

    Q3: It makes me more tolerant, that’s about it. Even when I’m pretty drunk, people can’t even tell. I think I stim less? Hard to say, I’m very conditioned not to stim in public.

    Q4: Hell yes. No matter how many times I straighten out, as soon as I’m not paying attention, my legs are back up under me again. I never sit “properly.”

    Q5: Most all my memories are that way. There’s not real difference in my head between something that happened last week and something that happened 30 years ago.

    Q6: Ugh yes. This is also why I can’t play video games, I feel too bad for the characters.
    And I don’t talk to others about it.

    Q7: Well I’m asexual, so nothing in that sense.

    Q8: Sometimes, way more when I was younger. I’ve learned to roll with a lot.

    Q9: I’d like to be dead, just to stop existing. Not depressed, don’t want to kill myself, just want to stop.

    Q10: I still wander. I used to say I was “going for a wander” I just liked to roam around with no particular goal or direction. And yes, stress me and I want to get away.

  79. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Subject to change

    Q2: Reading certain articles, tv series, listening to music. Sometimes it can be non-stop (for example: watching 5 seasons of a series in a day, listening to the same song over and over until I realize that I didn’t do my work)

    Q3: I’m trying not to drink in social situations, but when I did, it clearly helped me in many social ways (approaching people, keeping a conversation going, not feeling anxious) but in social events that I make myself attend because they’re important, alcohol doesn’t help, making me want to leave the place.

    Q4: I do this all the time, to me it’s more comfortable than sitting normally.

    Q5: Now that I think about it, basically all my memories are just images, I can’t seem to remember sounds, smells. My memory way of working is: events that made me feel sad, awkward events, happy events, scary events.

    Q6: Since I have real bad time at trying to explain myself to people, they always have to remind me to act like I care, that I feel something and not just say the right words but not act in the right way.

    Q7: Not sexually speaking, when I find myself aroused, I tend to stim more than when I find myself sexually aroused, but still, I stim a lot.

    Q8: In the example, with several elements I would be very troubled trying to measure them, even when I got the right measure on the first try, I would get anxious or stress doing it over and over trying not to make a mistake.

    Q9: Yes, if I could, I would run away into a quiet house in the woods forever, but then I find myself craving to have a companion, most likely like me, so we would understand each other well and not be bothered by long periods of silence or solitude.

    Q10: I wander a lot, and it’s a habit that I still have with me (I’m 19 year old female) of course it upsets everyone who doesn’t understand or have a clue of this condition. When I wander, it starts with a random thought and it keeps escalating over lots of thoughts, they can be fantasies, worries or just thoughts about what should I wear, what to eat, etc. Since I am not aware when doing this, I just remove myself from the situation, being helpful sometimes (when my mom complained about something I forgot or didn’t do as expected, I just wandered in my conscience, escaping the troubles in reality)

  80. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Subject to change, though some last a lifetime.

    Q2: The history of Marvel Comics: Currently dormant, but I can still go on for ages about it if it’s ever brought up. On a scale of one to ten, about a six.
    Sherlock Holmes: I engage very heavily in this. On a scale of one to ten, this is a very strong 10.
    Vlogging/Online video: I can talk loads about this, and usually do, to the annoyance of my friends, but I don’t know as much as I do about Sherlock Holmes. Probably a 9.
    Esperanto: Newest of the Special interests, 7 or 8 I would think.

    Q3: I’ve never been drunk but that is an interesting question.

    Q4: I don’t know what all crossed-up means. If it’s pretzel style, then no. But I do switch my sitting position a lot. My favorite one is slouched in my desk chair with my laptop on my stomach/waist area with my legs bent up at a nearly 90 angle to rest on my desk. It’s the only position I can sit in for an extended amount of time.

    Q5: I do! It’s typically triggered by sound though occasionally I can remember it on purpose.

    Q6: It feels this way but I typically do not express this. These feelings were a lot stronger when I was younger, now I typically only have them for objects I’m emotionally attached to such as a broken cell phone that I still carry around everywhere. Though I still want to touch everything I see.

    Q7: I haven’t noticed any effect.

    Q8: I’m very inefficient about things that I don’t explicitly plan ahead for.

    Q9: Yes! I didn’t know this was an autistic thing. I think about dropping unconscious a lot.

    Q10: I wandered off so frequently during Girl Scouts camp when I was 9 that the camp leaders stopped having people search for me. I don’t remember why I did that.
    I also wandered off when I was in a Wal Mart with my family because I would find more interesting things to look at than whatever food they were inspecting. I think that’s my main reason for wandering, something caught my eye. If I’m with people at a place like a Zoo or Amusement park today, I still do this.

  81. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Subject to change . I do return to some at later date.
    Q2: History particular medieval . Amateur level .
    Reading , big time .daily
    Internet , daily
    Q4: Yes
    Q5: Yes
    Q8: Yes. I get very confused and tend to forget things

  82. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Yes
    Q2: Real estate, interior design and fashion
    Any spare time I get to myself is spent on these subjects
    Q3: Calms my racing mind and makes me relax and able to let my guard down
    Q5: Yes
    Q6: No
    Q7: Yes
    Q8: Yes
    Q9: Yes, yes!
    Q10: Yes, yes, definitely sensory overload

  83. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Have some life long fascination with certain topics, history, science, maths. Then others which are shorter lived.
    Q3: Makes me feel sick, do not like it
    Q4: No
    Q5: No
    Q6: Yes, hate it when things are kept for best ie crockery or cutlery, antique toys still in packaging. I think it is sad.
    Q7: No
    Q8: No
    Q9: Yes
    Q10: Yes

  84. anonymous answers:

    Q1: I guess there is more than one answer here for me. The fascination with people has been lifelong. It has been consuming at different times in my life. I can’t seem to get away from it though. Other times I have rather binged on my passions, starting from very young. Finger painting, slinkies (I had three and would spend hours trying to get them all going at the same time), marbles (and I was not about to let any of my good marbles go, although I was fine with winning others away), balls, baseball during elementary school (I was always the first person at school, so that I could be first up to bat. I wrote a poem about this when I went back to college), reading fantasy and historical fiction has stuck over many years, but sometimes I just binge as I said, eat it up and then spit it out. Move on to another issue or topic.

    Q2: Reading is the most important thing I do. And it crosses many areas. When younger I used to have at least five books going at once, although now I have 2-3. I have always liked to write and find some way to do it whether in a journal, writing a story or communicating online. Lately I have started to learn how to sketch with online courses. The joy this brings is huge. Also cooking and learning new recipes. When I first found Pinterest about six months ago, the addiction was huge. I would go for weeks collecting recipes and would find myself still up at 5 am in the morning, nodding off and waking up, saving one more recipe and then doing that same routine for hours. Get back up the next day and start all over again. I have a substantial collection now and so I just check in every few days and add a few more or make use of what I have. I have also made the switch to Vegan eating in the last six months, so that is part of the special interest. I love crafting and used to love fixing up old furniture, woodworking. It was part of my job for many years. I am interested in HSP, Introversion, PTSD and Asperbers at the present time. So I would have to say that ‘I’ am one of my special interests. 🙂

    Q3: Well it makes me feel more relaxed, but then given enough, or some kinds, will make me more assertive and annoying. For instance I don’t like to dance, at all, but I will do some version of drunk dancing with enough. I do not drink at all anymore. Bad judgement all around, because people are difficult to understand at the best of times, alcohol just makes that worse.

    Q4: YES! I think it is a comfort STim thing to do for me.

    Q5: Yes, most definitely. Or at least they were my sharpest memories until my brain was damaged in 2009. But one of them was my favourite from childhood, that involved my lying in the dirt watching bugs crawling on a weed. I could feel the sun, smell the dirt, an awareness of the big blue sky and my feelings of contentment.

    Q6: Yes, although it is not something I talk about often. 🙂 For instance I am 56, but I love my stuffed Giraffe. He sleeps with me and I am very considerate of him. If I notice he has been left lying facing the wall, I stop and change it so he is more comfortable. If it is hot, I move him from under the covers. I make sure to give him love and kisses and gratitude for making me feel good at his company. But it is easy to attribute feelings to inanimate objects I think. Give them human attibutes.

    Q7: I am not sure that the question is clear enough for me to answer in a sexual way, although I would.
    Just as a general rule of thumb, arousal/anxiety has a huge impact on my ability to think clearly.

    Q8: Yes, that is something that I have found takes a lot of practice over and over again in order to be good at it. And it is also something that I am rather obsessed with. I like things to happen in a perfect sort of sequence when I am cooking. So that everything is just ready and the right temp when it arrives on the table. I try to relax about this now. I try to find ways to accommodate it, but figuring out what can be warmed up.

    Q10: Well prior to school days, I do know that my parents tied me to the porch to stop me from doing just that, wandering off onto the street. Once in school though, I was so intimidated by everyone, there is no way I was about to move without permission.

  85. anonymous answers:

    Q1: Subject to change
    Q2: I have so many. Cooking, science fiction, Adam Lambert at the moment. As fully as possible.
    Q3: I almost never drink.
    Q4: Sometimes
    Q5: Yes
    Q6: Yes
    Q7: Sometimes
    Q8: Sometimes
    Q9: Sometimes
    Q10: No. I always had a goal. I only forgot to tell my mom once and was punished. Never again.

  86. Q1: I have a some life-long interests and they come and go, I tend to focus on a handful at a time, while others go into hibernation. I also have the odd short term interest pop up, usually an off-shoot relative of my long-term interests, but narrower in focus.

    Q2: My biggest one is video games, and that has been life long. What type has changed over the years. First it was Commodore 64 games when I was 3 onwards, then Amiga games at 8, I liked 3D shooters at 12, the PC adventure, RPG and strategy games at 13 and Playstation platformers at 14. I got into Final Fantasy at 16 and that opened up the whole new world of Japanese RPGs, which I’m still into now. I still play all my old favorites, they give me a comforting feeling . Some games I have played through 10+ times. I also mostly listen to video game music too, which helps keep my calm when I’m out and about.
    I also love reading literature, especially classical and about my other special interests : History, sociology, Anthropology and zoology.
    I also write sci-fi and fantasy….and illustrate it too. This comes and goes, sometimes I’m completely obsessed and writing/drawing maniacally (usually after I’ve been really depressed, strangely), and others I just think about my characters and ‘hang out’ with them, but not really write or draw anything. That one’s always in the background, even if I don’t physically create anything.
    I love Sci-fi TV and movies and also british comedy. Some series I can watch over and over, like Star trek (the original one), Blakes7, Red Dwarf and the Young Ones ( I’m lucky to have a husband who also never gets tired of these)
    I’ve also recently acquired an interest in Tropes. I spend an embarrassing amount of time at TV Tropes, going through all my favorite media and looking up all the tropes therein. I think that is one of those shorter term interests.
    Lastly, I’m quite fond of gardening and cooking these days.
    I’ve probably missed something but……..oh well.

    Q3: Alcohol makes me sad if I drink too much the night before and anxious, lots more anxious. I don’t really go beyond the odd nightcap now-days.

    Q4: I’ve always sat like that. I can’t see how anyone can be comfortable otherwise.

    Q5: Ummm………don’t know. I have very clear long term memory, where I remember everything vividly, sights, feelings, smells, but nothing that stands out above the rest. Sometimes I have vivid recollections of what I was thinking, say, last time I looked through a drawer. the memory will be triggered when I touch the exact item I touched before, and is usually something completely unrelated to the item.

    Q6: Yes. I have tender feelings for soft toys. Teddy bears used to provoke such an emotion that I’d feel teary. When I see trees being cut down, I feel sorry for them and I feel maternal for the plants I grow. I feel sorry for objects that might once have been important to someone, but are now discarded or lost.

    Q7:………….(Too shy……)

    Q8: Yes, in fact, even commenting on a blog like this is hard. I know what I want to say, I just get muddled as to the order and structure. I remember having the same problems with assignments and essays at school, too. I wasn’t to hot with mathematics either. I’d drop numbers and forget where I left them with complex equations.

    Q9: I don’t really understand the question, but I still wish sometimes that I could quit this world and go live and explore in another with my husband and my parrot. I think this is part of why writing fantasy and sci-fi appeals to me so much. Don’t know if that counts as ‘stopping’ though.

    Q10: Yes both physically and mentally. Wandering and exploring appeals a lot to me, especially somewhere where there are no other people. It’s not as safe as it was though, so I mostly wander off in my head, or with my husband. I space out a lot, too.

  87. 1. I’m still 21, 70% sure that I’m an Aspie (can’t get a professional diagnosis because of the cost, though I would really like to get one); my special interests have changed, though some are more persistent than others. For the former special interests, they usually lasted for 1-2 years, and I can have up to 2 special interests at a time. My current special interest has lasted for several years, and I expect it to be lifelong.

    2. I’ve been loving art since 15 (this was inspired by a previous interest in computer graphics, which started when I was 11), and philosophical theology and exegesis since 18. Those two most long lasting special interests have changed form through time, though. Now I blended them into one single discourse of the dialogue between science and religion (check out Faraday Institute, Oxford Ian Ramsey Center, BioLogos, and American Scientific Affiliation to see what it is). Now, for the art part, I put more emphasis on photography. Also, as I began to suspect if I have Asperger’s this summer, I recently got crazy about Asperger’s itself, spending hours reading other Aspies’ stories and theories about the disorder (I’m already done with the online tests). Now my passion with Asperger’s is 10/10, though I want it to be lower so I can spend more time on science and religion (dropped to 6/10 from 10/10 back in July after I got crazy about Asperger’s) and of course, school. Here’s a list of my former special interests beginning with the most recent and rating of intensity for the more recent ones: cycling (8/10), law (10/10), astronomy (7/10), Tap Tap Revenge (10/10), 2010 Shanghai World Expo (10/10), airports (9/10), computer graphics (10/10), Star Wars (8/10), ants, cats, astronomy again, brass musical instruments, Chinese history, and the Chinese classic Journey to the West (don’t mistake me for a hip interested in Asian culture; I was born in China and lived there until I was 18).

    3. I’m a Muslim, so I don’t drink.

    4. I’m not sure what you mean. I sit with my legs crossed most of the time, usually with right leg above left, sometimes with one leg winding tightly on the other. How is this relevant to Asperger’s

    5. Not sure, unless I intentionally try to recall something. Often we don’t remember that we remember something.

    6. Yes. I often feel sad for disposal lab supplies (e.g. pipette tips, serological pipettes, centrifuge tubes, and etc.) because I often think they must be really sad that we cruel scientists routinely throw so many of them away after just one use. I also attribute feelings to devices I use, so I think my iPad must miss me so bad because I haven’t been using it for 2 years and my Samsung Galaxy K Zoom (a phone with a 10x optical zoom lens) must feel sad and jealous if I buy a DSLR camera. I don’t even translate when talking about this kind of feelings; others just consider me cute when I do so.

    7. I don’t know.

    8. Yes, definitely. I’m often like that when I’m not yet familiar with a complicated lab protocol. But as I get to practice that experiment more, eventually I figure out a sequence to do things more efficiently and then forever rigidly stick to it (and find faults with others when they don’t do it the same way). Planning with more detail than available in the recipe is important when I cook to make things efficient. Moreover, I really tend to lose track of sequence when talking or giving oral presentations, and that’s another reason why I communicate much better in writing than in speaking. As a result, I often forget mentioning important points when giving presentations, only later suddenly realizing that and abruptly mention those points in an inappropriate section. That’s why my presentations often get into a horrible mess and I don’t like giving presentations though I have to force myself to practice for my career in science.

    9. I’m not sure what you mean. To be honest, I’ve been fantasizing myself rehabilitating from a severe burn for many years, until 2015, when it changed into myself being force converted into a cyberman in Doctor Who. They used to compose about 80% of my daydreams, but dropped to about 20% this year. Sometimes I also fancy being a faqir (a Sufi ascetic who has given up all properties and social relationships) living in the Middle Ages. I don’t know if this is relevant.

    10. Yes, to hide in a quiet place, especially in large, noisy social settings not relevant to my majors or special interests, though I only wonder within the same building so it didn’t upset anyone. I also like traveling alone, preferably to places that are no so popular so are quieter, but this is not really wandering off, since I always carefully plan those trips. I also often wander off in the internet for hours, when I can’t stop myself from gathering more information about just a whim that came up in my mind. I really want to stop doing so since it disrupts my plans and makes me contrite afterwards. If I have Asperger’s at all, it must be mild compared to many of you guys (40 for AQ, 116 Neurodiverse and 97 NT for Aspie quiz, 157 for RAADS-R), as I don’t get meltdowns due to sensory overload, though I do get overwhelmed by the crowd and avoid certain textures.

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