My Top 10 Autistic Traits as an AUTISTIC FEMALE
I am so excited to finally be sharing my top 10 autistic traits with you all! I found out I am autistic at the age of 20 and turns out that all the "weird" traits I had, are autistic traits! From being a highly sensitive person to having difficulty in social situations and experiencing other mental health issues, I dive deep into all the traits that make me the unique person I am :)
1. Highly Sensitive
My first autistic trait is that I am highly sensitive, in EVERY sense of the word! This really goes for all of the main five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. When it comes to touch, I’m the kind of person that’s very particular about the clothes I wear. I cannot wear tight, skinny jeans, I can’t wear crop tops or bras that are really tight, I can’t wear a lot of jewelry…in fact, I just don’t wear any jewelry because it’s annoying for me!
When it comes to clothing, I mostly wear loose and flowy clothing: think loose t-shirts and shorts! Honestly, that’s why I love the summer so much: shorts for dayzzz! I’ve been told by my sisters that I have “no style” because I don’t dress like they do (a.k.a in constrictive clothing that seems to be fashionable nowadays). But I don’t dress for fashion! I dress for comfort. If dressing for fashion goes at the cost of my comfort and ability to function, I will choose comfort!
I also cannot stand if there’s stuff on my hands…and when I say stuff I usually mean FOOD, because I obviously do create a lot of recipes and am in the kitchen a lot! Because of this, I do wash my hands quite excessively compared to the hand-washing frequency a “normal” person. I simply cannot stand if there’s one tiny bit of something on my hand! If I’m taking peanut butter out of the jar and some peanut butter will come on my finger, I will immediately have to wash my hands, I couldn’t grab something else because that would just be very annoying for me. Compared to a neurotypical person who could just grab bread, and then grab the peanut butter, and then grab the jam, even though there may be some leftovers of breadcrumbs on his hands, oh man, I could NOT do that!
I’m also super sensitive to light. If I’m watching a show on Netflix, behind my laptop, or doing stuff on my phone, I’m very particular to the brightness level. Also, when I go outside and it’s sunny weather, I will most likely need to wear my sunglasses or the brightness would just be too much for me! When there’s too much bright light, it can feel very overstimulating and can cause me a lot of anxiety.
When it comes to sounds, I often hear things that other people will not hear. For example, when I was still living at home with my sisters and my mom, I often would lose concentration due to background noises. During COVID this became especially bad, as lockdown meant the whole family was now home 24/7! The pandemic was really the last drop in the bucket for me in feeling the intense urge to move out and find my own apartment, as I simply couldn’t get anything done anymore. Since moving out, I am drastically more calm and productive!
My high sensitivity also is very prevalent in the foods I eat and the way I eat foods. I do think that this contributed a lot to my eating disorder, which I explain more in-depth in this video. I believe that my autism was masked for a very long time due to my eating disorder, OCD, and other co-morbid mental health issues, which I will touch on in a bit. Now that we’re on the topic of food though, I’m VERY particular when it comes to the eating experience. More specifically, when it comes to the temperature and textures of food.
If a food is supposed to be served “warm” or “hot”, I will NEED that food to be warm or hot. If someone is going to give me soup and it’s lukewarm or room temperature, I most definitely will not enjoy it! I’ll be so distracted by how “wrong” the temperature is, that I simply cannot be present during the soup-eating experience itself.
That’s why I think I love smoothie bowls so much! I mean, they can only hold their thick consistency in a bowl if they are actually ice cold, whereas a drinkable smoothie is often closer to room temperature.
It’s the same with coffee, tea and other hot drinks: as soon as my coffee has finished brewing, I’ll add my collagen, plant-based milk, and pop that baby straight in the microwave!
I’m also super sensitive to smell. As a kid, my whole family would always “test me”, asking me to close my eyes and wave different food items under my nose. Not surprisingly, I would always know EXACTLY what the item was! It was truly a form of entertainment for them as they would ask: “how the heck do you know what sunflower seeds smell like?”
2. Difficulty with Change
My second autistic trait is that I hate change and I thrive on predictability, sameness and routine. A really good example of this is actually something that I used to do a lot as a kid. When my birthday was coming up, I would always type out everything I wanted in a neatly organized list, print out several copies, and then hand out the list to all my friends. In giving them the list, I would tell them “you can only come to my birthday party if you get me one of the things on this list!”
Looking back now, I cannot believe I even said that! No wonder I didn’t have many friends, LOL…but that’s just such a clear-cut example of my aversion to surprise! I would literally do whatever it took to NOT be surprised.
3. Difficulty in Social Situations
My third autistic trait is that I have difficulty in social situations. Besides the fact that I hate small talk and have a really really difficult time making eye contact, social situations simply exhaust me. I often feel like I have to be someone I’m not, which is known as autistic “masking”.
Autistic masking can cause autism to often go undiagnosed, as the autistic stereotype is someone who is just very socially awkward. When I tell someone I am autistic, they are often very surprised because I can come across as very extroverted: I can be funny, entertaining, and super engaged in social situations! However, this comes at the cost of feeling EXHAUSTED afterwards. It literally takes me days to recharge after a single night out or a couple hours of social interaction.
Another reason social situations are hard for me is that I’m a very direct person. I speak my mind and speak the truth! If someone asks my opinion on something, I will give them my honest opinion whether that’s good, bad, ugly, or beautiful! In a neurotypically-dominated world, this bluntness is not always welcome and my manner can come across as cold or rude. This is also the reason many autistic individuals may struggle with making and maintaining relationships.
4. Difficulty Expressing Emotions
My fourth autistic trait is that I have difficulty expressing my emotions. I have heard that this is very common among autistic individuals, and can be misinterpreted as having a lack of empathy.
To give an example, if I’m watching a movie with people (which doesn’t happen very often!) and something sad happened at the end causing everyone to cry, I would often be the only one to seem unaffected.
I remember a specific movie-watching event a couple of years ago when I went out to watch a movie with my uncle, aunt and cousin. At the end of the movie, someone passed away, leaving my uncle, aunt and cousin all teary-eyed. I on the other hand, was just sitting there thinking, “okay the movie is over, let’s go guys!”. I later heard from my mom that my uncle had told her: “Livia doesn’t seem to be affected by sad events”. Apparently, this come across as not having empathy or not being empathetic, but the reality is completely the opposite! I’m actually a VERY empathetic person, but it completely depends on whether or not I resonate with the situation.
For example: if a sad event in a movie involved a romantic heartbreak, I would most likely not be affected because I have never had my heart broken or never been in a serious relationship. In this case, I cannot empathize with that situation because literally I cannot imagine how that person is feeling!
However, if it was a movie in which a pet were to pass away, like the movie “Marley and Me”, I’ll probably be in tears for days! In this case, I KNOW what it feels like to lose a pet so I can actually place myself in the shoes of the people in the movie.
5. Literal Thinking
My fifth autistic trait is that I take things VERY literally and I’m a very literal thinker. A good example of this, is this one time I was talking to my sister about whether or not we could have a dictionary at our final Dutch exam. It was a reading-comprehension exam where you have to read several articles and then prove your understanding of them by answering a series of questions. The exam website stated “you are allowed to use a dictionary for all of the written exams”, which I understood as not being allowed to have a dictionary because it was a reading exam. When I asked my teacher to confirm, however, she told me that we in fact COULD have a dictionary! Even though it was about reading comprehension, we had to use pen and paper, meaning it technically counted as “written”…UGH! Why does terminology have to be so confusing??? Apparently, the only exams that are not “written” are the oral exams.
This example perfectly illustrates how I can often make situations a lot more complicated than they are! Taking things literally also has a lot of impact on understanding sarcasm…because obviously, sarcastic is the opposite of literal! I often do not understand sarcastic jokes, which can again make social situations difficult.
6. Detail Oriented
My sixth autistic trait is that I’m very detail oriented, I need to have an overview of everything before I start doing a task. Because of that, activities such as creating YouTube videos without a script can feel very intimidating! I’m clearly not a fan of improvisation, as I often fear that I won’t know exactly what to say or that I’ll miss something. This fear of “missing” details causes me to procrastinate a lot of tasks in my day to day life. If you are constantly waiting for the moment that the task is “perfect” or “complete”, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life!
My detail orientedness can also cause me to come across as a very slow person. I am a deep learner who wants to fully comprehend an idea before moving onto the next, which obviously takes more time than half-assing any one activity! Wheras a neurotypical person may skim over parts and just pick out what they deem important, I have a hard time distinguishing main ideas from insignificant details and thus will spend way more time understanding a specific concept.
The underlying thought behind all of this, is that I’m afraid the entire picture won’t make sense if I miss one tiny detail. My mom tells me that, as a kid, when I was explaining a movie or an event, I had to explain EVERY single part of the movie. I used to be obsessed with “The Little Mermaid” and would watch it over and over again, which I explain in this video. When explaining the film, it would often take HOURS as I described every single detail!
Another topic related to this trait is that I hate injustice and things being “unfair” in general. When things are not fair, they don’t “make sense” (if that makes sense LOL). To give an example, say a robber stole some old lady’s wallet. Whereas the majority of people may see this and forget about it the next day, such an event would really bother and stick with me for months on end!
7. Difficulty making choices
My seventh autistic trait is that I have a really hard time making choices. As I already mentioned, I can only start a task when all of the elements are in place…but as an entrepreneur and business owner, new tasks are constantly coming up! This can often cause me to feel very overwhelmed and put me into a state of analysis-paralysis; because I can’t choose the “perfect” task to begin with, I may end up not doing anything at all.
This sense of overwhelm along with procrastination often results in troubles with executive-functioning. Something that I constantly have to remind myself is that there is NO SUCH THING as perfect timing; YOU are the one who has to take the time and make it perfect!
8. Quickly overwhelmed
Although I already touched on this, my eighth autistic trait is that I feel overwhelmed very quickly. Daily tasks that are seemingly insignificant for neurotypical people, can feel monumental to me. I believe this contributes to burnout being very common for autistic people.
9. Other mental health issues
My ninth autistic trait is all about other mental health issues. I talk more in depth about how I believe my eating disorder was a manifestation of my autism in this video , but apart from that, my autism diagnosis has led me to have a lot of other co-morbid mental health issues. Struggling with other mental health issues such as OCD and anxiety is very common for autistic individuals…thankfully, I have found several ways in which I manage them! Of course, some days are harder than others, but these issues do NOT have to lessen your quality of life! There is always hope, no matter what you may be going through now!
10. Mood Swings
My tenth and final autistic trait is that I’m a very “up and down” person in terms of mood, speaking, and energy levels. Some days, I feel on top of the world, super productive, and full of energy, while on other days I can feel very depressed and struggle to even get myself out of bed. On those days where I just feel like I can barely function, I have noticed that the weather has a huge impact on my mood (which ties back to being a very highly sensitive person to my surroundings).
When it comes to speaking, I know I can come across as someone who is very shy, especially in social situations because I often don’t know what to say or I can’t make small talk. I have been conditioned to feel afraid to speak my mind, as I never know if it will come across as too direct or cold…but when it comes to speaking about a topic I’m passionate about, I can get SO fired up that I will not stop talking!
And there you have it, my top 10 autistic traits as an autistic female! I hope this post was helpful in showing you that you are not “weird” or alone :) If you resonated with any of my traits or have any questions, send me a message via the contact form or send me a DM on Instagram @livlabelfree! I love being part of the amazing autistic community filled with such unique individuals!
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