Autistic Checklist

This is a checklist of common experiences of Autistic people. I made it as a tool to help with self-diagnosis. Nobody has all of these traits, and allistic (non-Autistic) people may have a few of them. If many of these are familiar, you might be Autistic.

Further Reading

Samantha Craft has composed a series of specialized checklists for the experiences of Autistic females.

Non-compliance is a social skill by Autistic, Typing.

Links to free autism and neurodiversity resources by the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective group on Facebook.

Facebook pages, blogs, and resources for those who use other types of communication collected by Quirky.Stimmy.Cool.


The usual method of self-diagnosis seems to go like this: Share society's misconceptions about autism. Don't identify with those at all. Have Autistic friends. Learn from them. Start learning from the wider Autistic community. Find their experiences familiar. Learn more, and identify with much of what you learn. Start wondering if maybe you are Autistic. Endure your Autistic friends being smug about already knowing. Have a therapist tell you that you're not Autistic. Learn that the Autistic community understands Autism way better than therapists do. Think about all you know about actual Autistic traits and experiences, and self-diagnose. Maybe present a convincing case to a therapist, to get an official diagnosis, or give up on getting one.*

While the merits of that method must be many for it to be so common, not everybody has the needed exposure to the Autistic community, nor the time and mental energy to process a wealth of often personal and anecdotal information to build into a comprehensive understanding of autism. Some people, including friends of mine, needed a shortcut: A list like this one, that has already been winnowed from an otherwise daunting abundance of information. I couldn't find one, so I made it for them, even knowing that it was an act of utter hubris to do so. I offer it here to whoever else might need it.

This list is different from the criteria that a therapist might use in an evaluation. Therapists' understanding of autism is taught from the perspective of neurotypicals/allistics. It focuses on outward, visible behavior (and "behaviors"); on how a person's autism affects the comfort of the people around them; and on trauma, burnout, and meltdowns, all of which are really secondary effects caused by the strain placed on Autistic people by their society and surroundings.

* A contributor writes:

The other hugely common way this goes is, "Have child, child struggles in school, teacher suggests psychological assessment, structured clinical interview leads parent to realize things they always thought were normal about themselves now fall under this diagnostic umbrella."

The Basics

For those new to listening to the Autistic community:

Autism is a different way of being and thinking. Although it is often defined as a disability, disability is caused by a lack of accommodations. Everybody requires accommodations. Some Autistic people can get by on the accommodations routinely provided to allistic people, and so are not disabled. Others are disabled by a lack of relief from the environment and expectations they are subject to. There is no such thing as a "high-functioning" or "low-functioning" Autistic person. Use the terms "high-masking" and "low-masking" instead. "Functioning" labels are used by fake authorities (usually parents and therapists) to dismiss all Autistic self-advocacy: They claim that "high-functioning" people are not autistic enough to speak on behalf of the Autistic population, and that "low-functioning" people aren't competent enough to take seriously. In fact, the only experts on autism are Autistic themselves.

ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is autistic conversion therapy, a pseudoscience based on its predecessor, gay conversion therapy. Both systems punish and torture people into denying their needs and pretending to be who they are not. Both systems cause trauma, PTSD, and suicide.

The Autistic community in general prefers the term "Autistic person" to "person with autism". It is an identity, not a disease. Individuals vary, however, and ought to be addressed as they prefer. (As of this writing, I am capitalizing in accordance with these guidelines.)

Autism Speaks and Autism Society are evil. ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) and AWN (Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network) are good. Go gold, not blue. The puzzle piece is a problematic symbol. The infinity sign (gold or rainbow) is accepted.

Professional diagnosis can be hard to obtain, and depending on your needs, it might or might not be useful. An Autistic person who does not fit the outdated stereotype of the white cis male child with meltdowns will not match many therapists' vision of autism. Someone who has developed compensatory strategies may present atypically. That said, there exist good therapists, some of whom can help with the self-understanding and self-advocacy that may be necessary. A checklist of your own Autistic experiences can also be useful.

This document would not have been possible if I hadn't learned so much through the advocacy efforts of Caitlin West. Thank you, Caitlin.

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