Possible Benefits of More Obvious Autistic Traits

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If an autistic person’s traits are more obvious, here are the possible benefits:

  • The autism becomes less invisible.
  • Less hinting relied on for decision making because of the increased awareness of the need for clear communication which can reduce mistakes.
  • More heads up which can lead to improved support needed for autistic boys, girls, men, and women.
  • More confidence if they’re allowed to express emotions even though autistic versions of social cues were used.
  • More spontaneity (or less robotic) as there’s less concerns about getting the timing right by feel which may be different in autistic people.
  • Improved emotional connections since real emotions can be expressed. Encouragingly, according to an autistic YouTuber’s comments, expression of emotions in an autistic way was understood. Personally, if I prefer being warm.
  • Better health since more visible emotions can mean it’s easier to control them.
  • Improved enjoyment of activities since the emotions responsible for the enjoyment don’t have to be suppressed to look non-autistic at all cost.
  • Improved productivity as more energy and time can be put into work instead of “passing”. Some forms of “passing” also require giving up supports that can help them perform better. It makes more sense to focus on enjoying the job and doing it well than looking non-disabled unless the field is acting.
  • Fewer misdiagnosis because of clearer symptoms and taking fewer medications reduces no side effects which may mimic other conditions.
  • Fewer unnecessary medications used because of reduced misdiagnosis.
  • Sooner diagnosis.
  • Asking for support becomes easier since more heads up were given beforehand which makes the need for accommodations expected.
  • History is less likely to repeat itself. Being more visibly autistic can be a clearer reminder of the need for support especially when there’s minor successes which can give the false impression of outgrowing autism or the need for support, or even never having the challenges in the first place.
  • Improved employment rates because if the disability is clear enough that the right accommodations are given, the person is likelier to be more productive and enjoy the job. Other people with a severe disability such as blindness, deafness, or paralysis can have success when given the right accommodations. Why wouldn’t it be possible for autistic people?
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15 Examples of Situations with Sensory Overload

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Here’s a list of 15 example of sensory overload experiences that I’ve experienced.

  • Ring tones with bells or chimes on my phone seemed so faint and easily missed on the subway. It was likely loud enough for other passengers to hear clearly. It was also a new route that day after classes.
  • I tend to be one of the last students to finish exams and labs in my courses even if my grades were high. Noises include air conditioning and conversations.
  • Writing much notes without visual aids was very difficult for me. Noises include air conditioning and possibly running equipment.
  • In group projects, I lacked concentration which affected contribution possibly due to high sound levels. I may have zoned out too much. The noises include running equipment and conversation
  • While shopping in a noisy environment, I left an item that I bought at a counter. Things seemed unreal like in a dream.
  • During and after shopping at a bike store after work, there was brain fog which lasted for a while after getting home. Noises include traffic and crowds.
  • Leaving my cellphone on a cafeteria tray at a cafeteria at a ski resort. On the way back looking for my phone, I dropped a glove without noticing it until someone notified me of it. I remembered that things seemed unreal. Noises include crowds.
  • While shopping at a store on my day off, my colleague pointed out the fact that I was still there. My brain was processing too slowly. Noises include traffic and music.
  • At restaurants when reading menus, I tend to stare into space. Often, I order the same thing or my family members suggest what to order. Noises include crowds and kitchen activities.
  • Taking too long to complete activities at home with a radio playing. Things seemed unreal.
  • In a driving lesson, when the windows were opened, my driving instructor was concerned about my loss of performance. After closing the windows, he noted that I was driving better. When I drive, I make sure that the windows are closed and the radio is off.
  • On bus rides, I seem to be able to sustain keeping busy for a short time. Noises include engine sounds.
  • I feel that besides looking both ways, it’s very important to scan for turning vehicles even though I have the right of way. Sensory overload seems to make double or triple checking even more important.
  • Easily overlooking bicycle brake squeals when commuting to work.
  • Hardly noticing that a radio was playing in an office until my co-worker asked me whether it was too loud. Noises include typing and air conditioner.

That’s why I’ve been more conscious of the need for hearing protection.

I think we also need awareness of sensory overload for those who are more subtle. There are autistic people who don’t look autistic. Is it common to have sensory overload with only subtle signs?

I plan on wearing them in my future jobs because of the need for alertness. I feel that despite people’s concerns, the improved ability to concentrate can be actually be beneficial for safety. This can remove at least one more hurdle to employment for autistic people. What’s important is that important sounds can still be heard when hearing protection is used.

Is it Impossible to Cure Sensory Processing Disorder by “Getting Used” to it?

It was only in 2017 that I started using hearing protection to control sensory overload.

At first, it may seem extreme and and possible to outgrow it. That’s understandable because non-autistic people can’t test drive an autistic brain and vice versa.

I had many years of exposure to the sound sources that can increase sensory overload without hearing protection. That should have been plenty of time to get used to it.

Here’s my experience with a variety of sensory overload triggers without ear plugs during my full time education.

Elementary school noise sources

  • Sports
  • Crowds
  • Cafeteria
  • Classrooms
  • Forced air heating

High school noise sources

  • Sports
  • Crowds
  • Cafeteria
  • Classrooms
  • Traffic
  • Bus cabins
  • Forced air heating

College (4 years)

  • Crowds
  • Cafeteria
  • Classrooms
  • Bus cabins
  • Traffic
  • Air conditioners

Outside of education, there were more years of exposure to sensory overload triggers.

Even after many years of exposure, I’m still getting the symptoms of sensory overload. Treating it may not be as simple as not using hearing protection. If getting used to it can cure the condition, by now, concentrating in noisy places shouldn’t be too difficult, and those symptoms should have disappeared or became only minor.

If I feel like I’m used to it, it probably means the baseline was forgotten similar to how how people who didn’t sleep much no longer felt tired after a while even though they were objectively tired.

I’m plan on continuing using hearing protection. Despite people’s concerns, I feel that it may actually be safer because I can be more alert which is also required job performance.

Hearing protection isn’t totally sound proof. Healthy hearing has a threshold of around 0dB. If the noise level is 80 dB and you wear both ear plugs and earmuffs which have a combined attenuation of 40 to 50 dB, your ears receive 30 to 40dB. You should still be able to hear. If there’s mild hearing loss, single protection or a lighter duty protection can be used to allow hearing.

Things We Say that can Discourage Support for Autistic People

As a high-functioning autistic man, I feel that some sayings can discourage support for people on the spectrum because they may make the symptoms seem normal, seem outgrown, or cause the condition to be underestimated.

  • We’re all a little autistic
  • Women are usually better multitaskers
  • Women tend to be better with emotions
  • Women tend to talk more
  • Men tend to mature later
  • Testosterone lowers empathy
  • Everyone’s affected by noises too
  • Hearing protection makes you isolated
  • A lot of people are shy too
  • Even non-autistics find it difficult
  • You’ll eventually find one
  • You’ll get used to it
  • It’ll be outgrown
  • I understand that its hard
  • You’re so smart
  • Autism is just a label
  • Autism is caused by ___
  • You don’t look autistic
  • Difficulties with ___ can be affected by a lack of sleep or hunger
  • HFA isn’t that hard
  • You look normal
  • Someone’s child’s autism was cured by diet

Some of them may be true. For example, statistically, most Canadians will eventually find a job. The unemployment rate was only 5.9% in November 2017. For autistic people, that’s sadly not the case. It’s close to 80%!

You may not even have to mention them while talking about autism to have effects. If we think an autistic man’s challenges such as multi-tasking, and reading social cues are normal, is it easy to overlook the need for support? It’s true that men and women have differently wired brains. If most non-autistic men can distinguish subtle social cues but an autistic man barely notices them, the difficulty is likely autism related.

I think I needed more support than I was getting. For example, autism related support while working. I will likely need it for the rest of my life because autism can’t be outgrown. In real life, autism tends be very challenging whether high or low functioning.

Significant Challenges in a High Functioning Autistic Adult

Here’s a list of some of the significant autism related challenges in a high functioning autistic adult:

Hopefully, if we know our challenges, it can lead to better support.

Subtle Signs that Autistic People may need Support

I felt that when I needed support, my symptoms were too subtle that the need was easily overlooked.

I have the impression that people thought that my struggles were only minor starting early adulthood. I’ve been told that I don’t look autistic when I mentioned about the issue.

Underestimating autism doesn’t seem uncommon. Autism advocacy articles mentioned about people who were diagnosed late in life, how autism is commonly missed in females, and the possibility that children who “outgrew” their autism may need support.

I’ve been hired before and I felt that shortly after that, people seem to think that I’m out of the woods. We’ve heard sayings such as “get your foot in the door”. What we should be aware of is that autistic people often need support to be successful in their jobs.

They often need different approaches than non-autistic people do. Statistically speaking, being employed is the norm rather than exception for non-autistic people. It shouldn’t be too surprising that two of my classmates in college didn’t find job interviews difficult. For autistic people and many people with other disabilities, it’s often the reverse.

Here are the subtle signs that autistic people may need support:

  • Lack of productivity
  • Lack of progress
  • Decreasing performance
  • Lack of connections
  • Zoning out
  • Not engaged at school or work
  • Difficulties focusing
  • Struggling with job interviews
  • Trouble keeping jobs
  • Apparent loss of previously learned skills
  • Difficulties multi-tasking
  • Changes in symptoms or abilities in overly stimulating environments
  • Forgetfulness
  • Below average performance
  • Appearing uninterested
  • Other autism symptoms getting worse

I had to do my own research to find out some of the support that I need. I learned that my condition may actually be too subtle to even trained people or maybe I don’t know how to ask for help.

I mentioned that stress was my concern at work before and according to a feedback more than a year later, I was very calm and confused while my autistic co-workers showed clear signs of stress and performed better than I did. A co-worker even told me that I didn’t look tired when sleeping around 5 or 6 hours likely due to the lack of eyelid droopiness. This shows that autistic people’s body language should be interpreted with caution.

It took me so long to discover that sensory overload was significant and not something that you can really get used to. Recently, I’ve been getting more support. Before that, I tend to avoid discussing about autism. Thankfully, I was recommended employment services earlier this year.

Other support that I need may include: written and clear instructions, specific questions to confirm understanding, less need to relying on hinting, quiet work areas, less switch tasking, no need to act perfectly non-autistic, paying more attention to internal indicators such as freshness levels, and less distractions.

Not every autistic person experiences autism the same way that they don’t always have the same symptoms. If their symptoms are milder, is it likely that it’s partly attributed to the support that they’re already getting? People suspected that Temple Grandin’s support may have helped her to succeed in her career.

It’s important to address our weakest links and root causes rather than treating only the symptoms. For example, no matter how talented you are, it’s harder to learn your favorite subject in a language that you don’t understand. Instead of changing the field thinking that it’s not the person’s gift, why not have it learned differently?

Asperger’s: The Fountain of Youth

An Aspie's view on Christianity, Aspergers, Bullying, and everything inbetween

During the time that I have spent talking with other people on the spectrum, I have realized that most, if not all, of us on the spectrum tend to either feel or act much younger than our actual age. One of my friends recently suggested that I discuss this further, so I decided to dedicate my latest entry to this topic.

My entire life I have always felt younger than the rest of my peers, and I was told many times growing up that I acted younger than I truly was, as well as that I seemed to be younger emotionally as well. This didn’t become incredibly apparent until I hit my teenage years. As a child I didn’t think much of it, and neither did those around me, but it became a much larger problem when I was a teenager and in upper middle school/high school.

As a teenager…

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