I’m actually not a fan of autism symptoms lists. So much so, that I wrote an entire essay explaining why autism symptoms lists can be confusing.
I’m also not a fan of the word “symptom,” as it aligns with the viewpoint that autism is a “disorder.” Furthermore, symptoms are typically negative. They list out all of the deficits. These deficits are defined in relation to neurotypical standards. For example, someone is deemed as having sensory sensitivity only if they are more sensitive than a neurotypical person.
That said, I love making my own lists about autism. I find it enjoyable and soothing to my mind to organize my thoughts about autism in ways that make sense to me.
For example, I’ve gathered a giant list of all of the possible autism characteristics. I’ve broken my list down into the primary categories of sensory, body, learning/thinking, emotions, passions, and socialization. While these aren’t based on scientific categories, it’s what makes sense to my brain.
I also have lists within lists. I have my 6 primary lists of autism characteristics. Within those lists are more lists. I have separate lists for each of the five senses (don’t worry, I actually know there are 9+, but I put those on a separate list), and even a list for sensory impacts.
I also keep lists about random autism topics, such as:
Common misconceptions about autism
The joys of being autistic
Judgments of autistic people
Neurotypical standards of mental health
Cringey autism educational material
How autism gets gaslit
Ok, I could go on, but then this entire essay would turn into a giant list. I have enough lists to make a list of my lists.
While neurotypical individuals might misjudge this passion of mine as OCD or an obsessive quality, it is actually a tool that brings joy, clarity, and calm to my autistic mind. It helps me to settle my thoughts, understand things better, and be present. It helps me to organize my mind and figure out how to best communicate on a particular subject. Many of my essays that I share start out as lists. It also helps me to be a better therapist for my autistic clients.
I was about to share another benefit, but then I realized I was unconsciously making yet another list: a list of all of the benefits of my list making. So let’s just say, I clearly love my lists.
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