If you suspect autism but then read these autistic traits, you might end up swearing you’re not autistic even though you really are.
Sometimes, autism traits that are listed in content about Autism Spectrum Disorder can trick an actually autistic (though undiagnosed) person into thinking, “No way am I autistic.”
There were 10 “warning signs” of autism that came with an article about a female TikToker who was diagnosed with ASD at 22.
It’s the good thing I didn’t read these warning signs at the time I began suspecting I might be autistic.
Otherwise, I might’ve ended up thinking, “Nope. I’m not autistic.”
Certainly there will be undiagnosed Autistics reading those 10 signs of suspicion and then concluding that they can’t possibly be on the Spectrum.
I have a clinical diagnosis of ASD. Yet I can only check off six of the signs in that article.
I also know other clinically diagnosed Autists who would not be able to check off all of those bullet points.
Of course, we all know that when someone has a condition, this doesn’t mean that every trait of that condition applies to them.
But six out of 10 can be enough to discourage an undiagnosed autistic adult from pursuing an assessment by a psychologist or neuropsychologist.
According to the article about the 23-year-old, newly diagnosed autistic woman, here are the “Specific signs of ASD,” as the article states.
10 “Warning Signs” of Autism
And I put warning signs in quotes because that’s what the article says. Autism is not a danger!
#1 Reactions to smell, taste, look, feel or sound are unusual.
Check for me; I’m extremely sensitive to bad odors; they bother me more than they bother other people.
I’m particularly sensitive to human breath, when nobody else seems to be affected by this.
I can detect foul breath from 10 feet away – even when I’m wearing a doubled-up covid mask. I find it sickening.
There are also certain sounds I absolutely can’t stand. This sensory trait is exceptionally common in autism.
While one Autistic may be affected by only sounds and smells, another may find certain fabrics and food textures intolerable, while a third may find fluorescent lighting very uncomfortable, while not minding strong odors, tastes, feels or noises.
#2 Difficulty adapting to changes in routine.
This is another trait that seems to be nearly universal in autistic people, though the responses occur on a continuum.
For instance, an anticipated change in a simple routine may cause a meltdown in one Autistic, while an unexpected change in a major plan may leave another Autistic fuming internally, yet externally managing the change in a calm and strategic fashion.
Thus far, the vast majority of undiagnosed Autistics will agree with these first two traits.
#3 Unable to repeat or echo what is said to them.
What?!!! An undiagnosed autistic individual could read this and disqualify themselves as being on the Spectrum.
If anything, autistic children – and adults – have been known to do the opposite: It’s called echolalia.
This means repeating or echoing what they hear people around them saying, including people speaking directly to them. They may also repeat what they hear on TV.
Fact is, some autistic children and adults who deftly exhibit echolalia may not even be capable of spontaneous conversation.
I’ve been to numerous events among autistic people. I don’t know a single clinically diagnosed adult — with normal conversational skills — who’d struggle to repeat a statement I made to them or one they overheard.
Say something to me. I’ll repeat it verbatim.
There are autistic people who act in film and theatre.
Do you really think they’d be incapable of being able to repeat or echo what is said to them?
#4 Difficulty expressing desires using words or motions.
“Desires” needs to be defined here. I’ve heard Autists telling people what they wanted. I myself can easily state my desires.
Many content creators are autistic. Do you really believe that as a general rule, they have difficulty expressing their desires using words?
Any articulate autistic YouTuber will crush this trait. However, there may be some validity with the aspect of “motions.”
Many Autistics may exhibit body language that’s incongruous with the words coming out of their mouth.
#5 Unable to discuss their own feelings or other people’s.
This one’s tricky. I would’ve never thought I was “unable” to do this. But my assessment report pointed out difficulty in this area.
#6 Difficulty with acts of affection like hugging.
Another tricky one. One evening I attended a pizza meetup for autistic adults.
At the end, I and a clinically diagnosed autistic woman (whom I’d never met previously) were walking towards our cars. When it was time to part, she asked for a hug!
I’ve also witnessed autistic women, who haven’t seen each other for a while, hugging at autism events.
This trait needs further clarity: Does the difficulty include immediate family members? Close friends? Relatives? Acquaintances? And what about the circumstances?
Plus, there are many neurotypicals who are not huggy-type people. In fact, overly huggy NTs have been known to make other NTs duck for cover.
However, an individual on the Spectrum can clearly sense when their hug tank is naturally near empty even with loved-ones.
For myself, I don’t enjoy hugs unless it’s with my parents or a boyfriend. I’ve read of Autistics, though, who like to hug their friends.
It’s very worth noting that whenever I’ve seen a character on TV hug a doctor or police officer after learning that a family member just died, I’ve always thought that was incredibly silly.
I’ve always thought that if a doctor or police officer ever delivered devastating news to me, the LAST thing I’d want to do is hug them and sob into their chest. Are you kidding me?!
Hugging is a very intriguing human act. At a World Autism Day event, an autistic boy of about six or seven was wrapping his arms around all the adults nearby – who were strangers to him.
This included me, even though I had not spoken to him or even smiled at him.
He just came up and put his little arms around my waist (and I lightly reciprocated so as not to hurt his feelings, though this felt 100 percent mechanical to me; technically, I masked!).
#7 Prefer to be alone.
Preference for solitude is very common among Autistics. Won’t argue with this one!
#8 Avoids eye contact.
I take issue with the inference that being able to hold eye contact probably rules out autism.
Avoiding eye contact is a strong suggestion for ASD.
However, “Avoids eye contact” should never be in a checklist, as this declaration can discourage people with undiagnosed ASD — but who give eye contact — from seeking an assessment.
Instead, the descriptor should be something like, “May give too little or too much eye contact; overthink the process of giving eye contact; or find eye contact unusually distracting under certain circumstances.”
I have a history of overthinking eye contact, but I certainly don’t avoid it when being spoken to or when wanting to assert myself.
I do need to gaze away when I’m long-talking, as maintaining eye contact while I’m explaining things is very distracting.
I’ve been in correspondence with people whose clinically diagnosed autistic children had normal eye contact.
I’ve met an autistic man and his teen son who both reported that eye contact has always felt natural to them. I’ve met others who gave direct eye contact, by their admission.
One guy maintained intense eye contact with me during a controlled argument.
My diagnosing psychologist said that people can be on the Spectrum and still have good eye contact.
Yes, some autistic people avoid eye contact. But “avoids eye contact” is too absolute a descriptor for an autism checklist.
#9 Difficulty relating to other people.
DIRECT HIT! If there’s a universal trait in autism, this is surely it.
#10 Unable to point at objects or look at objects when others point to them.
I challenge this. I’ve been at long tables with chattering autistic people.
For the life of me, I can’t imagine suddenly pointing at something beyond the table – while several of the Autists just happen to be watching me – and them not directing their eyes to where I’m pointing.
This is just way, way impossible to believe. These were engaging individuals with good or well-faked eye contact, articulate speech and the ability to answer any questions given to them.
There is NO way that nobody’s eyes would follow the finger of someone suddenly pointing.
However, I can easily believe that this checkpoint would apply to those with more severe presentations of autism.
But the article’s target audience, along with the TikToker’s target audience, are those with “high functioning” autism.
I also see no reason why none of the Autistics at these gatherings would point themselves.
I was taught as a child that it’s rude to point. I rarely point, but there are times when I have.
I won’t argue that there are Autistics who never point. But to put this in a checklist just doesn’t seem right.
Be Very Leery of Generic Autism Checklists for Signs
If you suspect you might have ASD and really feel strongly about this suspicion, the one thing you should never do is disqualify yourself based on a short, generic checklist – whether it’s part of an article about an autistic person on TikTok, off a website about developmental disorders or in a pamphlet.
GET AN AUTISM ASSESSMENT!
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical and fitness topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. In 2022 she received a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Top image: Shutterstock/pathdoc
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People with the BAP have some traits common to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but not enough to have the disorder. But it's not comedians who have drawn scientific scrutiny for having the BAP: it's the parents and siblings of people who actually have autism.What Behaviours are suggestive of ASD? ›
People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. It is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms.What looks like autism but is not? ›
There are other brain disorders that mimic autism symptoms, like ADHD and anxiety disorders, including selective mutism. Autism can be misdiagnosed as another disorder with some shared symptoms.What are uncommon signs of autism? ›
- Sensory problems. These types of issues can include unusual reactions to sensations, like light, noise, or touch. ...
- Gastrointestinal issues. ...
- Behavioral issues. ...
- Learning differences. ...
- Sleep problems. ...
- Mental health disorders. ...
- Repetitiveness. HFA is partly characterized by anobsession with a particular subject or activity. ...
- Emotional sensitivity. ...
- Social problems. ...
- Language peculiarities. ...
- Sensory difficulties. ...
- Little or no attention to caregivers.
Some developmental health professionals refer to PDD-NOS as “subthreshold autism." In other words, it's the diagnosis they use for someone who has some but not all characteristics of autism or who has relatively mild symptoms.What is pseudo autism? ›
It describes a person who may appear to be neurotypical, but is actually autistic or neurodivergent.What is Kanner's syndrome? ›
This type of autism is also known as Classic Autistic Disorder, and its symptoms can include challenges communicating or understanding others, engaging in virtually no eye contact, and a hypersensitivity to stimuli (smell, light, noise, taste, or touch).
- Avoiding or fleeting use of eye contact.
- Not responding to name by 9 months.
- Limited facial expressions by 9 months.
- Limited play in early social games such as peek-a-boo by 12 months.
- Few or no gesture use by 12 months.
- Limited to no joint attention by 15 months.
Main signs of autism
finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling. getting very anxious about social situations. finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own. seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to.
- Autism: the positives. Understanding, embracing and celebrating different ways of thinking and doing can release the true power of the autistic mind. ...
- Remember. Harriet Cannon. ...
- Attention to detail. • Thoroughness. ...
- Deep focus. • Concentration. ...
- Observational skills. ...
- Absorb and retain facts. ...
- Visual skills. ...
Individuals with Asperger's syndrome have learned to compensate for their difficulties and are often barely perceived as having autism. However, just as other people with autism, they have problems with the processing of stimuli, a sensory oversensitivity, and difficulties in the area of social relationships.Can you be autistic with good social skills? ›
Autistic folks may navigate the world and social interactions in a different way. That doesn't mean they don't have social skills. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) varies in how it may affect an individual.Can you be socially awkward but not autistic? ›
Many biological conditions can lead to social difficulties, including autism. However, not all autistic individuals will display social awkwardness (though they may struggle inwardly). Moreover, not everyone who is socially awkward is autistic. And, in fact, they don't necessarily have a diagnosable condition.Can you be slightly autistic and not know it? ›
Mild autism is an unofficial term commonly used to refer to a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder level 1. Mildly autistic people require the least amount of support and are often able to hide their symptoms.Can someone be autistic and not know it? ›
While autism is most often diagnosed in toddlers, it's possible for autistic adults to go undiagnosed.Which parent carries autism gene? ›
Due to its lower prevalence in females, autism was always thought to have a maternal inheritance component. However, research also suggests that the rarer variants associated with autism are mostly inherited from the father.What are good traits of high-functioning autism? ›
High-functioning autism means that a person is able to read, write, speak, and handle daily tasks, such as eating and getting dressed independently. Despite having symptoms of autism, their behavior doesn't interfere too much with their work, school, or, relationships.What are autistic hand gestures? ›
About stimming and autism
Stimming might include: hand and finger mannerisms – for example, finger-flicking and hand-flapping. unusual body movements – for example, rocking back and forth while sitting or standing. posturing – for example, holding hands or fingers out at an angle or arching the back while sitting.
During a meltdown, we found that most autistics described feeling overwhelmed by information, senses, and social and emotional stress. They often felt extreme emotions, such as anger, sadness, and fear, and had trouble with thinking and memory during the meltdown.
Why is autism misdiagnosed? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be very complex to understand, which can unfortunately result in high levels of autism misdiagnosis in adults. This is often the result of a widespread unfamiliarity with the symptoms, especially in cases where they were never evaluated during childhood.Can ADHD be mistaken for autism? ›
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism can look a lot alike. Children with either one can be very active and impulsive, and can have trouble focusing and interacting with other people. In fact, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two.What is the opposite of high functioning autism? ›
Low-functioning autism (LFA) is a degree of autism marked by difficulties with social communication and interaction, challenging behavior, and differences in social or emotional reciprocity.What is idiopathic autism? ›
When autism is of known origin (caused by a known genetic anomaly or exposure), it is referred to as secondary autism. When autism is of unknown origin, it is called idiopathic autism.Can anxiety be mistaken for autism? ›
Autism and anxiety can have similar symptoms, such as difficulties in social situations and with routine changes. Still, they are separate, though often co-occurring, conditions. Autism is neurodevelopmental, while anxiety is a mental health condition.What is Asberg autism? ›
Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger's, is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests.What is the mildest type of autism? ›
If you still hear people use some of the older terms, you'll want to know what they mean: Asperger's syndrome. This is on the milder end of the autism spectrum. A person with Asperger's may be very intelligent and able to handle their daily life.What is the Wing and Gould theory of autism? ›
Wing and Gould (1979) concluded that the difficulties characteristic of autism could be described as a 'triad of impairments' – impairment of social communication, impairment of social interaction and impairment of social imagination.What is the least severe form of autism? ›
Level 1 autism is the mildest form of autism, but it is still defined as needing support. Some people with level 1 autism have difficulty in a mainstream classroom due to sensory challenges and are more comfortable in a smaller class setting.What is type 1 autism? ›
Level 1 is the mildest, or “highest functioning” form of autism, which includes those who would have previously been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. Individuals with ASD level 1 may have difficulty understanding social cues and may struggle to form and maintain personal relationships.
ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults.What is the gold standard for autism assessment? ›
Through a series of semi-structured observations, trained evaluators assess children's communication skills, social interaction, and imaginative use of materials. But over time, the ADOS has come to be considered the gold standard for a clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).What are high functioning autistic adults like? ›
Symptoms. Like all people on the autism spectrum, people who are high functioning have a hard time with social interaction and communication. They don't naturally read social cues and might find it difficult to make friends. They can get so stressed by a social situation that they shut down.What do autistic adults struggle with? ›
Autistic people may find some aspects of communication and social interaction challenging. They may have difficulty relating to people and understanding their emotions. Autistic adults may also have inflexible thought patterns and behavior, and may carry out repetitive actions.What are the two major characteristics of individuals with ASD? ›
brain functions. There are two main areas that are affected when an individual has ASD: ● social-communication skills, and ● restricted and repetitive behaviors. Individuals who have been diagnosed with ASD may have difficulty communicating with others, making friends and relating to other people.What are amazing autistic talents? ›
Savants with autism typically show amazing skill within one or more general ability domains. Mathematical, artistic, musical, spatial and mechanical abilities are most common. Most savants have a single skills but some have been reported to have more than one.What are the five factors that increase the likelihood of being diagnosed with ASD? ›
- Your child's sex. Boys are about four times more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder than girls are.
- Family history. Families who have one child with autism spectrum disorder have an increased risk of having another child with the disorder. ...
- Other disorders. ...
- Extremely preterm babies. ...
- Parents' ages.
Autistic masking refers to the conscious or unconscious suppression or hiding of elements of a person's autistic identity. This is often referred to as a social survival strategy – used to conform to expected 'norms', cope with situations or environments, or avoid expressing anxiety.What are autistic dysmorphic features? ›
In previous studies, children with autism have been found to have unusually wide faces and wide-set eyes. The cheeks and the nose are also shorter on their faces (Aldridge et al., 2011).Can you be autistic and seem normal? ›
It is possible to be mildly autistic, but many of the behaviors and preferences found in people with autism are also common to people who do not have autism. The difference is that people with autism engage in these behaviors in different ways and for different reasons.
31% of children with ASD have an intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] <70), 25% are in the borderline range (IQ 71–85), and 44% have IQ scores in the average to above average range (i.e., IQ >85).
People with social anxiety are likelier to talk in a timid voice and stand far from others. Autistic people (who aren't masking) may be less aware of typical neurotypical social expectations and stand too close to people (Cuncic, 2021). Note that Autistic people tend to either: stand too close to people or.What is masking autism symptoms? ›
Masking may involve suppressing certain behaviours we find soothing but that others think are 'weird', such as stimming or intense interests. It can also mean mimicking the behaviour of those around us, such as copying non-verbal behaviours, and developing complex social scripts to get by in social situations.How do I know if I'm masking? ›
- Mirroring others' facial expressions or social behaviors.
- Rehearsing or preparing scripted responses to comments.
- Imitating gestures such as handshakes or initiating eye contact.
- Noticeable difficulty with disguising autistic traits in unfamiliar environments.
- finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling.
- getting very anxious about social situations.
- finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own.
- seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to.
- finding it hard to say how you feel.
- Delayed language skills.
- Delayed movement skills.
- Delayed cognitive or learning skills.
- Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior.
- Epilepsy or seizure disorder.
- Unusual eating and sleeping habits.
- Gastrointestinal issues (for example, constipation)
- Unusual mood or emotional reactions.
Although older autistic individuals may also experience meltdowns, not all autistic people have them.Can you be autistic and understand social cues? ›
Individuals on the autism spectrum often have difficulty recognising and understanding social cues and therefore do not instinctively learn to adjust their behaviour to suit different social contexts. People with autism may well have the potential to learn these skills however.Why is autism so common now? ›
Advances in diagnostic capabilities and greater understanding and awareness of autism spectrum disorder seem to be largely driving the increase, the Rutgers researchers said. But there's probably more to the story: Genetic factors, and perhaps some environmental ones, too, might also be contributing to the trend.Why is autism more common now? ›
The CDC says more children are being diagnosed with autism than ever before. The rates may reflect growing awareness of autism spectrum disorder and a focus on getting more children into treatment. Other factors including air pollution, low birth weight, and stress may also be behind the increase in diagnoses.
" Stimming ," also known as self-stimulating behaviors or stereotypy, are repetitive body movements or repetitive movements of objects. Many individuals on the autism spectrum engage in routine stimming .Can high functioning autism be successful? ›
High-functioning autism refers to autistic people whose living skills, including communication skills, enable them to live independently. However, the term is problematic, and it is not a clinical diagnosis. High-functioning autistic people can usually live independently and have successful careers.What is tactile stimming? ›
Tactile stimming uses the person's sense of touch. It may include behaviors such as: skin-rubbing or scratching with the hands or objects. hand movements, such as opening and closing one's fists. finger-tapping.What are raptor hands? ›
Developed collaboratively by some of e-NABLE's top designers, the Raptor Hand is designed with ease of printing and assembly in mind. Features include 3D printed snap pins, a modular tensioning system, and compatibility with both velcro and leather palm enclosures.What does a Neurodivergent meltdown feel like? ›
Meltdowns are similar to the fight response. When an autistic person is having a meltdown they often have increased levels of anxiety and distress which are often interpreted as frustration, a 'tantrum' or an aggressive panic attack.What is a Neurodivergent meltdown? ›
Meltdowns and shutdowns are extremely common, especially in the autistic and neurodivergent community. Meltdowns are a physical reaction to overstimulation surrounding auditory overload, visual overload, and sensory overload in general. Meltdowns can also occur from the extreme exhaustion that comes from masking.What is similar to autism but isn t? ›
There are other brain disorders that mimic autism symptoms, like ADHD and anxiety disorders, including selective mutism. Autism can be misdiagnosed as another disorder with some shared symptoms.What is ASD commonly misdiagnosed as? ›
ASD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) share a number of symptoms, such as problems with executive functioning, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. Occasionally, individuals with ASD are misdiagnosed with ADHD.What is scripting autism? ›
Scripting is the repetition of words, phrases, or sounds from other people's speech. Most commonly scripting phrases and sounds are from movies, tv, or other sources like books or people they interact with. Scripting is especially common in children on the spectrum who are learning to talk.What is an allistic disorder? ›
For those unfamiliar, “allistic” refers to people who are not on the autism spectrum, and has become an increasingly popular term to help distinguish people from their autistic peers without using judgmental terms like “normal” in contrast to “autistic”.
Defining the Traits and Behaviors of Level 1 Autism
Difficulty switching between activities. Problems with executive functioning which hinder independence. Atypical response to others in social situations. Difficulty initiating social interactions and maintaining reciprocity in social interaction.
As of 2013, Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism are no longer terms used by the American Psychological Association, and have instead both been merged into autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As of 2021, the World Health Organization also retired the terms and merged them into autism spectrum disorder.What is the difference between being autistic and having autistic traits? ›
They are one and the same. The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the clinical definition for autism. Some people chose to be referred to as “an autistic person”, while others prefer to be referred to “a person with autism”.How many autistic traits do you need to be autistic? ›
Diagnostic Criteria for 299.00 Autism Spectrum Disorder. To meet diagnostic criteria for ASD according to DSM-5, a child must have persistent deficits in each of three areas of social communication and interaction (see A.1. through A.3. below) plus at least two of four types of restricted, repetitive behaviors (see B.1 ...Can you have unnoticeable autism? ›
Unnoticeable signs of autism can be detrimental to a child's wellbeing when caregivers neglect to investigate further. People with autism can be given strategies and support that can help them work alongside their condition and be successful while still being completely and utterly themselves.Can you be a carrier of autism but not have it? ›
Carriers have one mutation in a copy of their gene. Carriers do not usually have the symptoms of an ASD, but can have children with an ASD. If a carrier's partner is also a carrier of a mutation in the same gene, there is a 1 in 4 (25%) chance to have a child with a ASD in each pregnancy.What does Allistic mean? ›
For those unfamiliar, “allistic” refers to people who are not on the autism spectrum, and has become an increasingly popular term to help distinguish people from their autistic peers without using judgmental terms like “normal” in contrast to “autistic”.Do people with autism feel different? ›
Autistic people may act in a different way to other people
find it hard to understand how other people think or feel. find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable. get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events. take longer to understand information.
People with autism often experience love differently from neurotypical people. Their expression of love is less straightforward, as they tend to rely heavily on non-verbal communication. This can mean that those who are neurotypical may find it difficult to interpret the signs of affection.What is the mildest form of autism? ›
If you still hear people use some of the older terms, you'll want to know what they mean: Asperger's syndrome. This is on the milder end of the autism spectrum. A person with Asperger's may be very intelligent and able to handle their daily life.
According to the Asperger/Autism network, a female with ASD may: Know that she is different, noticing that her interests veer away from those of her peers. Prefer having only one or two friends, or to play in solitude, having an appreciation of and focus on specific interests.How can I rule out autism? ›
Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child's developmental history and behavior to make a diagnosis. ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger.Can high-functioning autism go unnoticed? ›
Many individuals with high-functioning autism are diagnosed later in life. Their autism often goes unnoticed due to average or higher than average intellect. Furthermore, in order to fit in many individuals with autism work very hard to mask or hide their autistic traits.