Autism is defined by social communication differences and a tendency towards, what is often referred to my medical professionals as, "restricted, repetitive behaviors" or as I prefer to say "a strong desire for order and routine in a chaotic world". I organize myself same daily schedule, same meal menus, same routes to work or anyplace I need to go.
Autism is not something that people grow out of and it is not something that can be or should be cured.
Most autistic people have sensory issues in at least one or more of the senses. Any of the senses may be heightened or dulled (inability to sense cold, heat, or pain). Sometimes input that most people can ignore will be so intense as to cause pain and distress for an autistic individual.
Autistic people have verbal and non-verbal communication differences.
For example, they may have different patterns in their: Spoken language - may be less verbal or even more verbal than their peers in early development.
Differences in speech patterns may persist into adulthood and may include differences in speaking pattern, lack of or limited verbal speech, use of echolalia and palilalia, difficulty moderating the voice (indoor voice or outdoor voice) - sometimes due to auditory processing difficulties. I may unintentionally speak out of turn or ramble, especially if I am excited or overwhelmed.
Body language differences
- Stimming - my hands may flap and move with vigor when I experience a strong emotion like extreme joy or if I am suddenly startled. (flapping, spinning, pacing, rocking, bouncing, walking on toes, finger flicking). Some stims can become so small that they are almost unnoticeable but are often damaging to the autistic person (jaw clenching, chewing on the inside of the mouth, body tensing, skin picking).
- Body Pose - There are specific stances, some of them hard to describe. Like how I tend to slouch in a specific way, with my arms curled in like a T-rex or a newly hatch chick.
- Differences in facial expressions - (may appear overly or under expressive to non-autistic onlookers). May have difficulty recognizing and decoding the facial expressions of others.
- Differences in or lack of eye contact
Obsessed or Driven?
I'm passionate, some may call it obsessive Autism Speaks calls it "narrow or extreme interests in specific topics". It can cause me to ignore people around me but it also calls me to spend time alone, creating art, writing, making videos, and doing creative work that doesn't involve socializing.
Humor & Literal Thinking
Many autistic people think literally. Although in childhood it can be confusing, many autistic adults grow to love humor that pokes fun at phrases like "raining cats and dogs" "throw the baby out with the bath water" and others. I will admit, although I know better, to this day I VISUALLY see these things literally in my mind, and they crack me up.
Sometimes, even when emotion hits me instantly, especially if it's a strong emotion, I may need time to process it. Generally, I instantly know if I feel "good or bad" but all of the deeper levels of emotion are processed on a much more manual level. Also, I may not always express my emotions, especially when I think other people won't understand or accept them.