autism experiences
a page chronicling different specific experiences throughout my life where my autism has run rampant, sometimes in funny ways, sometimes in horrifically embarrassing ways

more stories will be added as i remember them, or as they manifest

fashionably late
one of my most frequent symptoms of autism is my inability to understand metaphors or coded language most of the time. growing up i always thought the term 'fashionably late' meant that someone arrived late to an event/function because they were taking so long with, you know...their fashion. doesn't make much sense in hindsight, but it's only recently that i realized i had been thinking of this term all wrong. apparently it's fashionable to be late - which i don't understand as someone who goes out of my way to arrive 30 minutes early to all prior engagements.

it's snowing!
another similar example. i remember once i was sitting with some friends. a girl was shredding a piece of paper towel. she threw the pieces up in the air and said "it's snowing!" surprised, i looked outside in anticipation of the snow that was supposedly falling. it took me a second to realize my mistake. nobody noticed.

growing up i was OBSESSED with my birthday. i'd be looking forward to it and planning it months and months ahead of time. picking a theme was probably my favorite part - i loved scanning the party city website for all the coolest party supplies. this was pretty much a hyperfixation of mine. i did the same thing with vacations, but birthdays were even more fun because I could personalize them. i remember one year, probably my 13th or 14th birthday, and i had a big party (big for me, which meant more than 3 people) with a bunch of girls from school. I didn't consider really any of these people my 'friends'. they were just not actively bullying me. that might sound kind of sad, but as a kid who preferred being alone it didn't really bother me. more than anything, they were just furnishings for my Birthday Party Experience. anyway, I went all out with the planning that year. I had all these cool activities planned, like a whole space set up at my dining table where everyone could decorate their own gildan shirt with puffy paint. there were some other activities, games and stuff. i remember thinking everything was going really well, and wanting to 'stay on schedule'. my mom ended up pulling me aside and tried to explain to me that if I kept pushing everyone to do different activities in such a short time frame, no one would get to enjoy themselves. this didn't make any sense to me but I remember feeling incredibly ashamed. if the girls I invited were upset in any way, I wouldn't have known, because nobody told me.

mmo hell
here's another vivid hyperfixation from my childhood. MMORPGs, or literally any site where you could create a character and talk to other people. before I discovered forums and online spaces like tumblr, these games were the singular balm to my childhood isolation. there was nothing more in the world I loved more than a character creator. I would scrap a save file/account on a game and start from scratch just so I could use the character creator again. some of my favorite MMOs as a kid were mabinogi, vmk (virtual magic kingdom, for anyone that remembers), club penguin, pixie hollow, and toontown. mabinogi was probably my most intense one. I would lock my stepbrother out of the home office just so I could play it. I literally fell asleep thinking about it and dreamt of it constantly. it's funny because I didn't really play the game as intended. I was way more interested in getting new clothes for my character and roleplaying through eat/sleep cycles than actually completing dungeons and stuff like that.

for most of my childhood and adolescence I pretty much masked 24/7. there's a lot of reasons for this, mostly having to do with being the only sane person in my family, but I won't get into all that now. it's funny looking back and thinking about how much of my personality I absorbed from television characters and people that I admired. I would try to copy their every move and replicate it in a later situation, down to the way someone smiled or where they put their hands. before I even knew what autism was I thought everybody did this. I can even remember embarrassing moments where I tried to replicate a facial expression and failed, and I could only tell because the other person would look at me in the most confused way (though this knowledge would be brought on by later recollection, as I never picked up on it at the time). there was one time in middle school a girl at the lunch table complimented me and I genuinely tried making the ^_^ face in real life. I'm not sure why I thought that would work.

yes, tragically, my mother forced me to enroll in ballet classes for a year when i was young, maybe 8-9 years old. I can't remember if I ever protested or not. as a kid I sort of just let my parents goad me into whatever activities they wanted while I just zoned out and thought about my neopet or something. it wasn't long until I started dreading attending these classes – not just because I've always had awful hand-eye coordination and can't dance to save my life, but because of the COSTUMES. oh. oh man. the things I had to might as well have filled up a astronaut suit with itching powder and put me inside it. I hated those scratchy, slippery, itchy, stretchy lycra/nylon/etc fabrics associated with most dancewear. the worst part for me was the tights. I remember being so uncomfortable in them I refused to touch the fabric with my hands, and made my mom help me put them on. if I touched them, I would feel this horrible jolt of discomfort and pain that echoed through my whole body. it just made me want to cry – it was like getting poked directly in the brainstem by a million tiny needles. I couldn't tell you if this sensory issue has continued because I've refused to touch the fabric of tights ever since.

highly aggressive stimming
trigger warning for self harm here. nothing too graphic, I just want to be safe.
this is one of the first symptoms I associated with my autism – that strange, persistent need I had to move my body, my arms, to flail around or punch something, every time I felt a heightened emotion. this usually manifested when I was angry or upset with myself. for as long as I can remember, up to my earliest memories, whenever I felt horrible I would either punch my thighs as hard as I could or bang my head up against the wall. I couldn't help it. it was like I physically could not keep the energy inside. don't worry, though - I know how to stim safely and productively now. aggressively dancing around to music helps. I'm also a lot more open about stimming in public so it doesn't all stay shoved down deep inside me anymore.

all my life i've never understood how socialization works. everything that seems to come so naturally to everyone else is completely alien to me. even things that should be easy to remember – like shaking the hand of someone you respect – just puzzles me. why do we have to touch at all? why this movement and not another one? why do we treat people differently based on varying levels of respect? in my mind, everyone should get a handshake or none at all. it's thoughts like this that make me want to outright refuse to shake someone's hand, just because i don't understand why people feel so compelled to do what society tells them. unfortunately, my silent revolt usually just makes me look like a jerk to the person that's experiencing it at face value. i don't mean to be contrarian or rebellious or anything like that. i just think it's all so confusing. i guess because i don't get the rules of society, i don't really feel beholden to them, so it doesn't make any sense to me when someone acts in accordance to these seemingly irrelevant rules.