I just navigated to this article by Scientific American. Even though I am not diagnosed as autistic, it still strikes a chord with me, especially these paragraphs:
But inside, it was very different. Social life did not come at all naturally to her. She used her formidable intelligence to become an excellent mimic and actress, and the effort this took often exhausted her. From the time she started reading at three and throughout her childhood in gifted programs, O’Toole studied people the way others might study math. And then, she copied them—learning what most folks absorb naturally on the playground only through voracious novel reading and the aftermath of embarrassing gaffes.
I feel like this kind of thinking started when I was 13. Even as an adult, I studied other people to try to learn how they acted so I could figure out how to act.
Also, unlike in boys, the difference between typical and autistic development in girls may lie less in the nature of their interests than in its level of intensity. These girls may refuse to talk about anything else or take expected conversational turns. “The words used to describe women on the spectrum come down to the word ‘too,’” O’Toole says. “Too much, too intense, too sensitive, too this, too that.”
My parents also described me as “too sensitive” or “too naive” or “too much”.
She describes how both her sensory differences—she can be overwhelmed by crowds and is bothered by loud noise and certain textures—and her social awkwardness made her stand out. Her life was dominated by anxiety. Speaking broadly of people on the spectrum, O’Toole says, “There is really not a time when we’re not feeling some level of anxiety, generally stemming from either sensory or social issues.”
Story of my life, here. Makes me think.