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Marina Gask-Ajani
December 2016.
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How can I know if I'm autistic?
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If you're a socially awkward and anxious person you might wonder if that means you're autistic. And like all the other areas of learning difficulty, autism is on a spectrum. You may experience difficulties but are they sufficient to warrant a diagnosis of autism? We all know quirky people who are a bit unusual but cope well enough with life, and they may fit the profile but wont necessarily want identification as autistic. But for people who've felt different all their life it can be a massive relief to get a diagnosis.

"Sensory stimulation like noise, smells and scratchy clothes are likely to feel overwhelming at times. On some mornings just opening the front door can necessitate a hasty retreat back inside."

So how would you know? You may well feel that you have had persistent communication and social interaction difficulties all your life. Sensory stimulation like noise, smells and scratchy clothes are likely to feel overwhelming at times. On some mornings just opening the front door can necessitate a hasty retreat back inside, as the sensory stimulation of noise and movement can feel intolerable. Unexpected changes will make you anxious, and your entire day might be upset by someone being late – in fact you will only be able to focus on their lateness long after the fact.

If you have felt for most of your life like you come from Mars, like you're just not like everyone else and don't get other people's behaviour at all, you may be on the autistic spectrum. At school you will probably have found it hard to get on with others. You are often very literal – so if someone tells you to pull up your socks, that's exactly what you'll do. If you're on the spectrum you are often unable to fathom what's going on in someone else's mind, or why they might lie – social conventions are baffling. Like why someone would say of course your bottom isn't too big if it's not true? You are scrupulously honest, and become confused when others don't say openly what they want and then take offence when you fail to read the cues. Miscommunication is a major bugbear in your life.

"Because while autistic people may behave in a way that will often seem brusque and rude, they care deeply what others think of them and can be easily hurt. They just can't read social signals and misunderstand how their behaviour impacts on others."

Because while autistic people may behave in a way that will often seem brusque and rude, they care deeply what others think of them and can be easily hurt. They just can't read social signals and misunderstand how their behaviour impacts on others. So if you find you're on the receiving end of confusion on a frequent basis and its making your life intolerable, go to your GP to ask for a diagnosis, or contact the National Autistic Society