I just realized I have autism

I’m a 20 year old woman and I just realized yesterday (after wondering for a while) that I probably have autism. Any tips from other autistics?


Hi Dragonfly,

I’m not Autistic myself but I am married to an Aspie. A lot of my behaviors also are similar (I can’t do eye contact, I don’t like to be touched for any reason except for my husband, I like ‘my spot’ and it genuinely upsets me when someone else is in my spot and stuff like that, I can have problems verbally communicating sometimes, and I’ve have been described as blunt and aloof at times.) to those of autism as well.

The first thing I would say is, A lot of people attach a stigma to autism and preconceive it as a negative thing when I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. People tend to overlook the fact that people with autism tend to have higher intelligences which offset a general lack of social intelligence. They dedicate themselves fully to whatever they enjoy or find important, and they tend to have a fierce sense of loyalty.

If you have some of the same difficulties I do, I would say… I’ve gotten lucky with the eye contact, because even though people do bring it up in my life, my husband doesn’t seem to mind and I managed to skate through an interview to get a job where I don’t have to be around people to an extent where I need to maintain eye contact. I honest don’t have good advice for this because I think I got lucky, but maybe ask someone you’re comfortable with to look into your eyes so you can practice.

If you have issues with social interaction, my husband has found that it helps to have someone around that he can experience a social event with and then ask any questions he had about the interaction after the fact. For example, he might reference a conversational exchange and ask if what was said/done was normal and then he will ask why. He has also mentioned that since he was diagnosed early (which I know you weren’t), he was taught how to mimic ‘normals’ and 99% of people would never know he’s on the spectrum.

There are people who won’t care if you’re autistic and will be more than happy to help or accept your challenges and quirks. My husband doesn’t like his food to touch so we got him big sectional plates. I am open to his social questions. I have also learned what behaviors I should treat differently because of his autism, for example when he says something that comes across as offensive at first. Many times I have to remember that it’s a part of who he is and he may not even realize that he did something that is generally considered offensive. In these cases, good communication is key, and now almost 8 years into our marriage, I can usually tell if it’s ignorance or if he’s just being mean (he’s never been mean to me on purpose).

I think if I was to give one piece of advice as someone who doesn’t have autism but has lived with it daily for the past 8 years - communication and patience are extremely important. Find someone that you trust and be willing to ask questions. Let them know if you’re uncomfortable with something or don’t understand, and don’t be scared to tell them when they are doing something that bothers you. It can definitely be a struggle, but a diagnosis (or a possible diagnosis in your case, I gather) is nothing to be ashamed or worried about. People who happen to have autism are good people with just as many redeeming qualities as anyone else. If you have any specific questions I would be more than happy to help, either myself personally or I can forward your question to my husband who has the diagnosis.


Im not autistic but just be yourself thats the only thing you really have to do.


I’ve heard for a lot of my adult life that I have (and always had) autistic tendencies and might be on the spectrum, but I haven’t gotten a “diagnosis.” At this point, I’m not sure what it would change. I’m still me in all my quirky, awkward, overanalytical glory. A diagnosis or label doesn’t change who you are.

I review and ask questions about my encounters with trusted people too. I thought it was a preoccupation with my personal image, and I suppose in a way it is, but I do want to check that how I act is normal and acceptable. As for social skills, I credit 4 years of high school wrestling for that. Even though I wasn’t much of a wrestler, the best thing I did in my formative years was put myself in a large cross section of the student body and learn from their interactions. I’m not always charming and jovial, but when it matters I can turn it on and fit right in. And God bless my wife, a deeply caring and empathetic neurotypical, who can tell when I’m struggling both in and out of social situations, and who really lifts me up when she tells me that I did well after a social situation.

If you have autistic tendencies, I’d guess you’re in either a technical or data-driven field? When technical hiring managers are looking for employees, they’re not looking for a charmer with a million-watt smile, they’re looking for someone who can get the job done. You won’t be an outsider in a field like that.

My life hack to get around eye contact is to look at foreheads. My eyes may appear a little out of focus if my conversing partner pays that kind of attention, I don’t know; but if you focus on foreheads, at least you’re looking in the right direction, and their eyes are just kind of in the periphery.

Network with similar people. A lot of my friends are neurotypical, and I really enjoy having “normal” social interactions with them, but it’s exhausting and I can only do it every couple weeks. I really find myself at home at Mensa events. People think it’s intimidating and that they don’t belong with the top 2% “most intelligent” people in the world–I know I did before I tested. As a matter of fact, 2% represents 6.6 million people in just the U.S.

Watch “Love on the Spectrum.” I rolled my eyes when my wife started watching it, but a lot of the people on there struck me as nice, pleasant, and even “normal” except for a few quirks. I felt like I could identify with them. My only gripe was that they never addressed pairing them with neurotypical partners.

Finally, if you’ve gone your whole life so far without a diagnosis, even if you’re autistic, you’re high functioning and will get through life just fine. If you were so out of place that it was an impediment, I’d think someone would have addressed it before.


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