Autism Awareness Month Part. 2

This article is the second part of my first article this month for autism awareness. In the first article, I focused more on what autism spectrum disorder is and how it works. In the second part, I will spotlight common symptoms of autism. Common traits of people with ASD are hyper-fixating on a specific topic, stimming, going non-verbal, having sensory issues, not understanding social cues, and having trouble communicating with others.


Hyper fixation, or special interest, is hard to explain if you’ve never experienced it. Hyperfixation and particular interest are the same things. Still, the difference is that hyper fixation is a term used across most neurodivergents versus special interest, which autistic people exclusively use. The urban dictionary defines hyper fixation as “Being completely obsessed or completely emerged in one or more subjects or hobbies.” Special interests are usually specific, and it’s common for someone with a special interest to know an encyclopedic amount of information on the topic. And just because someone is hyper-fixated on something doesn’t mean they enjoy the subject on which they are hyper-fixated. Hyperfixations can also be hurtful because they sometimes cause you to lose motivation to do anything unrelated to your special interest and negatively affect someone’s social life, relationships, work habits, and grades. But if someone has a healthy relationship with their special interest, it can be an enjoyable experience to have something that you can go to when you’re feeling down.


Stimming is the repetitive action that’s either a movement or vocal. Examples of stimming can include (but are not limited to) flapping hands, tapping feet, and/or repeating a specific term or phrase. Just about anything can be a stim, and it’s possible that someone with ASD can have a stim that is unique to them. Also, stimming is not limited to people with autism and can be done by someone neurotypical. Still, it is more common for people who are neurodivergent.


 Autistic people could be completely non-verbal or always use minimal words. These people on the spectrum usually need assistance to do basic tasks due to their inability to communicate well. Still, someone on the spectrum who can perform independently can also go non-verbal, usually when upset, mad, sad, or overstimulated. Going non-verbal in autistic people doesn’t mean they lose the ability to speak. Many autistic people don’t claim that they go non-verbal, which might be because they are uninformed about what going non-verbal is due to the misleading name. However, when someone goes non-verbal, speaking may take more energy than usual, or their words seem mushy and hard to understand.


People on the autism spectrum may also have sensory-related issues, leading to being overstimulated, resulting in panic attacks, going non-verbal, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and irritable. Some things that can trigger sensory issues include specific sounds, sights, textures, smells, and tastes that overwhelm someone. The particular things that trigger the sensory overloads are different for every person with ASD, so just because one person with autism can handle a certain smell or texture doesn’t mean everyone with the disability can say the same.


The fact that people with autism have trouble with communication and understanding social cues is pretty self-explanatory and is the main contributor when diagnosing someone with ASD. How people with autism communicate is very different per person since it is a spectrum disorder. However, these symptoms may not be obvious but are still present in certain social situations. It is common for someone with ASD to understand when other people use sarcasm, even though they use it themselves. 


Autism spectrum disorder is a complicated and interesting developmental disorder that is slowly becoming a more recognized topic in our modern society. There are so many different aspects to it which is unique to a person diagnosed with it. If you think you have autism, I recommend contacting a medical professional to get diagnosed.