Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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As I just said on Twitter, I keep forgetting that chronic health issues are chronic and that I can't just wait them out. "Oh, I feel like shit today, I'll post/work/exercise once the aches and/or pains and/or anxieties have let up." And then they just... don't, and another four weeks have slipped by. In fact, I'm typing this straight into the "new post" field on my phone because if I try to ~draft~ something, I won't finish it. I wanted to post something, several somethings, more substantial about the last few months, but: ow.

At this point, the best and easiest thing I can think of to do for myself is drink a shit ton of water, healthwise, and try to catch up on some reading, considering that I am specifically in physical pain right now. I feel like there is probably always something you can do for yourself, even if that something is "breathe deep and drink a water."

I have a yearly PCOS checkup scheduled for September, which I think is also when I have my next quarterly med check (for bipolar II, if you do not have my health conditions memorized, she said dryly). You know, I'll go ahead and say--it's a long long story that I don't really know how to start or finish, and so maybe I'm finding reasons to put off more in-depth posts on (subconscious) purpose, but: it seems, based on some preliminary discussion, that I may be on the autism spectrum. I have a referral to a clinical specialist, but I don't think I can afford another doctor's visit right now, or maybe even for 2-3 months.

So it's not an ironclad clinical diagnosis. But it would explain A LOT about my painfully lonely and anxious childhood, why I have panic attacks while trying to drive, problems I have both starting and/or finishing things, and those times when I'm just like "that's it, I'm done, I have lost my will to function, I will be sitting in this corner of the convention hall if you need me." And I know some of these things may be true of many people. But in the preliminary research I started doing, a revelatory preponderance of them turned out to be true of me.

And that's the kind of thing I wanted to post about in depth. Things like how autism can present very differently in girls, how many women aren't diagnosed until adulthood, how (contrary to a lot of stereotypes) empathy overload and high verbal skills can be involved, mirror neurons, how bipolar disorder often overlaps with or is mistaken for autism, intense world theory, executive dysfunction, sensory overload, how Hans Asperger only studied boys, how I'm not sure if Asperger's syndrome is still clinically a thing or if it even reflects what's going on with me but who am I to say that, how I'm not entirely sure if "high-functioning end of the spectrum" is a thing or if that terminology upsets people, how I might be blundering into an existing community, and not knowing the right words and being afraid I don't belong because I don't KNOW for sure, but how it's already helped me a lot to reconsider how I think and feel and function. It has, perhaps contrary to expectation, been a largely positive experience.

Anyway. I think I am stealing my own thunder here because trying to write about Autism, Maybe has been turning into Let Me Slideshow You My Brain. Like, we could be here a while. So. Voilà.

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I have missed you. Sorry you are going thru all this. High-functioning is a thing and I don't think the term is offensive. It makes much more sense than "mild." I didn't know Asperger only studied boys. Girls and women are certainly overlooked on the spectrum. A couple years ago they (DSM) looped Aspergers and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder- No Other Symptoms) into ASD and I think it was unfortunate. Nuances of Aspergers and PDD-NOS still hold true. Best wishes in your journey.

Thank you! Yeah, as with a lot of communities, there seems to be some internal disagreement and/or evolution of terminology. I'm kind of trying to tiptoe until I get a better feel for it. I thought I'd read about the DSM-V (?) changing precisely how all that was classified, but wasn't entirely sure.

I think most of the pushback against "high-functioning" is that there are so many autism nodes that you can be high-functioning in one and absolutely not at all functioning in another, so where does that label fit? Someone who is nonverbal may be excellent with emotional awareness, and vice versa, you know?

I tend to say that my autistic traits are the invisible ones, because they're the ones that are easy to mask. I think autism is the root of my depression and anxiety problems, and I have a lot of trouble with interpersonal skills and expressing myself, but I have been a fucking fantastic receptionist for 6 years and I've never had stims or verbal tics that stuck out as odd (in fact, they mostly look like childish girl things - tugging or playing with my hair almost constantly, or playing with my jewelry). (To be fair, I also got a LOT of scolding as a kid for the truly odd/stereotypical behaviors, which I learned to quash. And one of the big markers for me is that I tend to overexplain things/use a lot of words, because I get frustrated a lot that people don't listen or misunderstand me, or something? I forget the psychology reason, just that I get very very wordy in my attempts to be understood, and I have always struggled with concision. But if you aren't familiar with people on the spectrum, this isn't an obvious behavioral marker, you know?)

I've been a member of the LJ Asperger community for eons, and this was a common topic back in the day. After a few posts questioning "what does high-functioning mean", we all sort of agreed that it was better to talk about (in)visible symptoms/traits or specify what one has more/less skill with. Then again, if you considered yourself part of the Asperger comm, you more than likely got labeled "high functioning" by default, so idk.

You've read all the many articles and posts on The Toast about autism in girls and women, right? I rarely felt so understood and not-alone as when I read them and participated in the comments to them.

Anyway, I'm really happy for you that you've found a potential explanation that is helping you feel at peace with the world and yourself! That has been the biggest benefit for me of an unofficial Dx as an adult. There's not much I can do about my childhood now, but at least the knowledge of general autistic traits helps me be better aware of my own and work to make life easier for myself and the people I interact with.

You know, that's a really good point--I had heard it framed as a divide between "high-functioning" and "low-functioning" that created resentment, so I hadn't even thought of it in terms of "level of functioning is not necessarily quantifiable."

I had no idea I had any stims because they were very common signs of impatience or "thoughtfulness"--tapping my pencil, bouncing my knee, tapping my foot. I cannot stand still. I'm always sort of shifting from foot to foot back and forth, and it is REALLY difficult to stop doing that, even when I concentrate on that. And I had no idea why, except that maybe I wanted to shift my weight back and forth because I'm heavy, but that didn't quite sound right. All the things that turned out to be related to autism, I had always thought of other, not-really-convincing explanations for.

I overexplain myself a lot, too--a friend of mine actually called me out on that years ago and I was like BUT I WANT TO MAKE SURE I AM UNDERSTOOD.

As I understand it from reading siderea, the DSM has apparently become far more about classifying things for the purpose of insurance billing than it is about codifying scientific understanding. So if you want to use whatever terminology is most familiar, I think you will find yourself in good company alongside a great many clinicians and mental health practitioners.

That makes a dismaying amount of sense, actually.

The important thing about it is that it means that terminology and Official Diagnosis(tm) only matter for bureaucratic purposes. For actual mental health care, the DSM is mostly irrelevant; all that matters is having your provider understand what's going on, regardless of the words used to describe it. And I gather that the good ones are generally totally on board with that.

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