I was once asked by someone, “How do I know if my behaviour is because I’m ASD or is it merely who I am?” It was a good question and one that I have many times pondered over myself. There’s not a clear or easy answer.
First, we have to decide what exactly is personality. A definition is, ‘the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.’ Now, to me, that also suggests that ASD could be considered part of an individual’s personality.
I haven’t always thought that ASD was a part of someone’s personality, but views change. Today for the purpose of this article I am thinking that there is some sort of overlap…
For someone to have ASD, the criteria is that they have to have lifelong “persistent difficulties” in these areas of life:
- Social communication and interaction
- “Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests” (this includes sensory behaviour)
Perhaps our personality determines how we respond to these impairments?
But then there’s another problem of what is personality – because personality could be anything from “hard working” “patient” “sensitive” “grumpy” “quiet” “thoughtful” “cold” “selfish” “organised” “rigid” “chatty” … there are an infinite number of words we could use to describe any individual’s personality.
Maybe this therefore isn’t the best way.
Therefore, I will talk a bit about my life and compare how I react and what I do with how I think I would react and what I would do if I didn’t have ASD. This might be the most interesting way for me to discuss this. It might be best to talk about how people have described me, rather than wholly how I describe myself and also to look at how the majority of other neurotypical people are so that I can compare myself with them.