Other Can we talk about the intersection of autism and trauma?

HealingMama

Sponsor
Can we talk about autism and trauma? I'm having some new awareness that I might have high functioning autism. It's an area I don't know much about - especially how it impacts women vs men. I don't know what's from PTSD and what's from possible autism (with some exceptions).

Probably just PTSD:
Playing an adventure video game to decompress, having my character run around opening chests for rewards. The game has an ongoing thread of conflict with a powerful enemy and every so often he sends minions after your character. This attack sequence gets triggered. I feel myself go into a panic, like my body is screaming. I start crying because I'm overwhelmed. It doesn't happen every time I play or obviously I wouldn't play.

Thought it was from PTSD but could be from autism:
Visit family this weekend. Originally were going to have an outside picnic. Told at the last minute it was cancelled due to suspected rain. Day of the visit, my MIL says they decided to do the picnic after all. It's in the middle of nowhere with no buildings, no restrooms, temp is mid 90s with high humidity, there is a creek but we didn't bring swimsuits, and I'll be there for who knows how long without any way to leave if needed, no data to use my devices etc.

Usually my meltdowns in these situations are more ranty but because I felt so trapped and because I was around family that I am not super close with I just went into shutdown mode for several hours. I was very dissociated but not in a parts sense.

I often really struggle with last minute changes to plans where things won't meet my expectations. Apparently this can be from autism, but it can also be from PTSD making us control freaks.

Have you looked into how these conditions intersect? I guess my thinking is ultimately the approach to dealing it is different. If I have an autistic brain then EMDR may not get me to a point where my brain doesn't work like that. But if I'm triggered by control issues secondary to PTSD then continuing my EMDR should eventually clear that up.

Thoughts?
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
I came across a very interesting blog post about this. Autistic traits vs autistic trauma

Meltdown is a sign of extra stress energy that the nervous system needs to release. Society’s intensity causes meltdowns - they are not caused by a lack of self-regulation. I define self-regulation as the ability to stay connected to oneself during our feelings, not the complete absence of uncomfortable feelings. It is actually possible to be self-regulated in that sense while having a meltdown.

Shutdown stores the stress energy inside us, which is often safer than meltdown in the short term, depending on our environment. Many of us have been punished or rejected for meltdowns, and the body remembers, so it goes into shutdown to protect us. But shutdown is also the definition of trauma - it is the storing of overwhelming stress energy in the body to be processed at a later (safer) time.
This seems to describe the difference in my regular behavior and what happened this weekend. But it's still not clear what is what. Too bad we can't just get a fMRI and have clarity about what issue comes from what thing.
 

Eagle3

MyPTSD Pro
I have both. Its taken me years to figure out what is trauma and what is Autism. Now I have a better understanding of how the two conditions play out, affect each other, etc. Takes a lot of concerted effort and honest self-reflection to tell the difference.
 

TedWNY

New Here
I tested “positive” for Aspergers a number of years ago before going down the CPTSD route.
I believe both can test similar and have come to the realization that lack of attachment and socialization from the PTSD are at the root of my irregularities.
 

8888

MyPTSD Pro
I too have both autism and PTSD. I was diagnosed with autism in childhood but my PTSD didn’t set in until later. For me it seems my PTSD has made some of my autistic symptoms worse. For example, since I was diagnosed with PTSD, I seem to flap my hands a lot more. I flap my hands as a form of stimming for stress relief which is really an autistic thing but most of the time the stress that is causing me to flap is related to PTSD triggers. So they do Intersect a lot and for me they seem to feed off each other.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
@HealingMama nice to see your post again. You always have a way of putting things that make sense to me.
I wonder if you change the orders if that makes more sense if you look at it objectively for yourself.
Probably just PTSD:
Playing an adventure video game to decompress, having my character run around opening chests for rewards. The game has an ongoing thread of conflict with a powerful enemy and every so often he sends minions after your character. This attack sequence gets triggered. I feel myself go into a panic, like my body is screaming. I start crying because I'm overwhelmed. It doesn't happen every time I play or obviously I wouldn't play.

Thought it was from PTSD but could be from autism:
Visit family this weekend. Originally were going to have an outside picnic. Told at the last minute it was cancelled due to suspected rain. Day of the visit, my MIL says they decided to do the picnic after all. It's in the middle of nowhere with no buildings, no restrooms, temp is mid 90s with high humidity, there is a creek but we didn't bring swimsuits, and I'll be there for who knows how long without any way to leave if needed, no data to use my devices etc.

To me and my subjective seeing of your story, the playing games seems more autistic like - you know you have full control of things and get mad for losing control ...figure it out and master it again...it is a game! you keep going back cause you love it! It is repetitive cause also you sort of know inside how it plays out but you are playing with your suspense of reality.

The second one, you seem to feel 'trapped' and others who are making decisions or have more control of the situation - reminds you of something or some other time you lost real material control or more like self- agency in or of situation so seems more real harm or you are trying not to be injured sort of...This real life game seems more like ptsd reaction. You [ do not want to play ] a reality that feels a bit unsafe, maybe invalidating etc (others - was not there a quote about life is good but others make it hell).

Hope this makes sense.

[edited].
 
Top