Alex's Answer

Autism spectrum

Your Question

I’m not sure if I’m on the autism spectrum or not. I’ve never been diagnosed with any mental disability or problem at all in my life (I’m 16 if that’s important to the question btw.) but I definitely have the same traits that are associated with asd like bad eye contact, not getting social cues like sarcasm or rhetorical questions, hyperfixating on specific things whether it be a game or a book, repetitive movement (i usually tap my foot or shake my leg to calm down or when i feel excitement) and being a picky eater. I have a few friends who are neurodivergent who have said that I may have autism and should get a test in the near future if I can. I want to but I’m worried my parents will try to find a way to stop me from getting one or outright saying no. Sometimes my parents will say “you’re not autistic stop acting like you are” or “you’re not special you just do stupid things sometimes.” even though i have no idea whatsoever as to what could’ve triggered that response, my mom also constantly criticizes me for not saying the right thing in a conversation if she’s present in it, for example if I don’t catch sarcasm or a joke she made she’ll get slightly aggressive? (not horribly mad just a little bit annoyed) I don’t understand at all as to why she would, i just made a mistake and didn’t get what she said. I also didn’t start speaking until I was 3 years old and I’m pretty sure that delayed speech is a telltale sign of autism, I was able to read fairly well at that age so I didn’t struggle with comprehension. Ever since primary school and sometimes secondary I’ve been criticized by teachers for my backwards(?) thinking and I’ve always been self conscious about it, it was only until I was about 14 when I started questioning if I was on the spectrum or not. sorry if this is a bit rambley but i literally have no one in my immediate range to talk about this with right now

Answer

Hi there, you are very welcome to Ask Alex!
 
Thank you for reaching out and sharing your feelings and experiences. It’s clear you’ve put a lot of thought into this, and it’s great that you’re seeking to understand yourself better. First and foremost, you’re showing a lot of maturity by questioning and reflecting on your behaviour and traits.
 
It sounds like you’re experiencing some challenges that could be associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Traits like difficulty with eye contact, understanding social cues, hyper fixations, repetitive movements, and being a picky eater can be signs of ASD. Additionally, your delayed speech as a child might be relevant. However, we are not medical professionals here at Ask Alex, so we can’t diagnose you. It’s important to speak with someone who can offer you a professional assessment.
 
It can be tough when your parents don’t understand or support your concerns. Their reactions might be frustrating and disheartening, especially when they dismiss your feelings or criticise you. It’s important to remember that your feelings are valid, and looking for help is a brave step. Open communication can sometimes help, but if talking to your parents feels too difficult, finding another trusted adult or professional to discuss your concerns with might be beneficial.
 
You mentioned that your friends have encouraged you to get tested, which shows they care about your well-being. If you’re unsure how to approach your parents about this, consider writing them a letter explaining how you feel and why getting tested is important to you. Sometimes, expressing yourself in writing can help communicate your thoughts more clearly.
 
For more support, especially if you’re in Ireland, check out www.asiam.ie/, an organisation that provides resources and support for people with autism. Remember, you’re never alone. The Childline team is here for you 24/7 to support you and explore your options with you. You can reach us anytime at 1800 66 66 66, or by Messenger at www.childline.ie, (just click on the purple Messenger circle!).
 
We’re here to listen and help you through these feelings and concerns. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us whenever you need someone to talk to.
 
Look after yourself,
Alex

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