Auditory Processing

Auditory processing difficulties might require lip reading instead of eye contact.

  • I saw a study tracking eye movement while watching movies that found that autistic subjects tended to watch mouths instead of eyes (to link)
  • I have family members that lip read to assist with auditory processing
  • most of my family turns subtitles on for anything that has the option – which is a lot more now than it used to be
  • I have trouble processing audio on a phone call, less so if I’m familiar with the voice
  • another family member recognizes people by voice instead of face, I tend to recognize silhouette and gait – not sure if that counts a face blindness? I think I recognize faces in photos, but it’s hard to determine if that’s based on knowledge/memorization of the photo/deductive reasoning or actual recognition
  • ADHD plus sensitive hearing means I have a hard time or find it impossible to tune out other conversations – I can often track up to three conversations (though not participate in) but beyond that I suddenly can’t understand anyone
  • I really really really dislike being in restaurants except for ones that have high back booths that block the surrounding sound
  • the hum of fluorescent lights is horrible
  • I hate vacuuming – not because of the volume, but because of the tiny changes that sound like something is or is about to go wrong with the motor

Is Narcolepsy Just…

ADHD? Which I think is just being Highly Sensitive and having impaired sleep?

I didn’t know that sub-optimal levels of arousal could make you tired/sleepy/ or even fall asleep.

I used to hate driving because I’d have to pull over, get out and do jumping jacks to stay alert sometimes. Then I came across something (to link if I find it again) that suggested it might be ADHD. I got diagnosed and now it’s the number one reason I take amphetamine medication – no more getting tired while driving! Caffeine never worked for me as far as alertness.

Turns out driving was SUPER BORING for me. The only thing as bad or worse was trying to read Huckleberry Finn – I kept passing out every time I tried in high school.

If I engaged my brain with interesting stuff, then I wasn’t paying enough attention to driving and could only go somewhere I could get to on autopilot. Short drives were ok, but longer ones not so much.

Diagnosing Females

I just heard about Kadiant today because they did an online assessment that did not accurately diagnose someone’s daughter.

Unfortunately, it is absolutely harder to get girls diagnosed because they present differently and they mask habitually. I was diagnosed officially at 42 after self-diagnosing at 39.

One of the first special interests of many autistic girls is social rules – so they learn to mask very early and very well. Then they get seen as “just” shy and anxious. I can’t find the meme about boys vs girls at the moment.

If the person diagnosing doesn’t know how to check for the existence of a mask, they certainly aren’t going to be able to see around/behind it. And most autistic females don’t even know they are masking, so they can’t “just” drop it for the assessment.

If this happens to you, ask which diagnostics were used. Ask them to try another one or for a second opinion.

Also, a key thing that many questionnaires don’t tell parents that when a question asks what their child can do, they don’t mean what CAN they do – with support/under the right conditions/sometimes, the question is actually asking what they can do completely independently and without supports (like visual schedules, etc.) at least 80% of the time.

The other thing to do is look at the CDC milestone lists and see which things are/were missing/delayed.

I made this health history form to help me figure out some of those things by looking at journal entries, texts, emails, photos, etc. to find the kind of information often asked for.

ADHD, anxiety and hyperlexia are all common signs of autism in females. Collecting and socially acceptable special interests also can be indicators. An obsession with horses and/or ponies that lasts longer or goes deeper than their peers. As kids it can be collecting dolls or certain toys, especially if they arrange or organize them instead of doing pretend play. As adults, shoe/purse/jewelry/makeup collections are common.

Your daughter probably isn’t “just being dramatic” – she’s anxious and doing whatever is needed to get your attention, or she’s overwhelmed by emotions she doesn’t know how to handle.

Anyone and everyone can slip into fight or flight mode – and the prefrontal cortex doesn’t mature until 20-25 and for neurodivergent individuals it’s often even later.