I think Neurodivergent NOS is a great term and pretty sure I know people who would fall under that category! I do want to ask, out of genuine curiosity and not as a challenge, why you do *not* think you are autistic - ? Have you been evaluated, or just feel that you aren't? I relate to a lot of what you are describing, but I am diagnosed autistic and I do feel that I am. This makes me wonder what the difference is that makes me autistic and you not.
Hi Erin. I guess there's not really a simple answer to your question. I've been thinking on it for a couple of days now, and I don't have a short reply. How do I know I'm not Autistic? I haven't been formally evaluated. I have had a bit of a discussion with my psychologist about it. I do relate to many things my Autistic friends and kids experience, especially when I am extremely tired or in a period of time when a lot of stuff is going on that stresses me, but most of that is sensory stuff. Although I tire from social exposure, I do not seem to experience the same social challenges I see others experience. I do go through periods of being intensely interested in topics or activities, but engaging in them doesn't energise me or comfort me in the way I see others describe. I know these things are stereotypes, and I don't mean to categorise and stigmatise, these are just things I see as different in me than in the majority of Autistic people I know. I have been diagnosed with depression, and I believe if I was to talk to an OT about sensory processing stuff that I probably have something diagnosable going on there. I think that the experiences I have that you relate to stem from those two things. I think it is probably more common than we realise for things that are used as symptoms in diagnostic criteria to overlap many situations and causes. And I think the intensity of those experiences has a lot to do with "qualifying" for a diagnosis too. A key issue to me in this conversation is that it is really important to acknowledge that Autism probably should not be in the DSM as a disorder needing to be categorised and treated, just as my neurodivergence is not. I think Autistic people are more disabled by society that is not accommodating, which leads to co-occuring conditions like depression, anxiety, etc. that do often require a bit of medical intervention. I think that issue more than anything might explain our shared experience even though I am not Autistic. Does any of that make sense or help you with your question? I am still kind of thinking as I write and processing this stuff as I get my head around things I am learning of neurodivergence and neurodiversity. I appreciate your question, as it has prompted me to think more thoroughly about some things. Michelle
That makes a lot of sense to me. I definitely think that, for one thing, the depression I experience is directly related to being autistic in a frequently non-accomodating neurotypical world. Not just the emotional difficulty of that, but the pervasive feeling of inadequacy that stems from not being able to navigate things that I still think I "should" be able to... I hope that as I move toward more self-acceptance and self-advoacy, that will ease up. My younger son, actually is a kid who seems to have quite a lot of sensory issues/sensitivities, but I can see in him that communication and social skills come to him very quickly and easily in a way that I cannot relate to at all, haha - seeing him communicate non-verbally with other toddlers is like watching a magic show for me. He does often retreat from people to "rest" as he puts it, but when he's in social mode, he is comfortable. So I can see how a person would neurologically be turned up here, turned low there, etc.