September 7, 2018

Do autistic people miss others?

Last updated on February 25, 2021

One thing I find very different about my neurology is that I do not miss people that I stop interacting with.

I mean absolutely no one.


There is a reason I find it peculiar. My feelings for a person are like a light switch.

Embrace Autism | Do autistic people miss others? | illustration missing1
Now you’re on my mind.

They are on or off—I have no middle ground.

Embrace Autism | Do autistic people miss others? | illustration missing2
And now you’re not…

That is not even the part that I find the most unusual. When someone is my friend, I can not imagine my life without them. I love them with abandon. I am super attentive.

But when I get to the end of my rope, or if someone moves away, etc. Then my feelings for them cease. I have neither bad or good feelings, just no feelings.

Embrace Autism | Do autistic people miss others? | illustration strangers

Over time I have come to accept myself this way. It eases my sadness or sore heart (which I experience physically) when I remind myself of this when someone I love is leaving.

People become special interests to me. Or they are required in my life for one reason or another. I guess I am pretty black and white about it.

As a therapist who works primarily with trauma, it helps me because I care deeply and fully without distraction when I am with a person, but do not get burned out when away from them.


Some people that I have known break the contract that I have given them. And that for me means no contact. I am not judgemental and I am a good friend, but if a person breaks a boundary, life has taught me just to let them go. I get way too hurt, and if a person does not get me, then it is very very unlikely that they ever will.


Because I am autistic I have space for only a very few people/beings in my life.

  1. I find socializing with anyone but Martin exhausting; and
  2. People become my special interest…

I drove Martin slightly mad in the beginning. I wanted to learn everything. Endless questions that I think felt invasive at times—what are you eating, what are you thinking about…but Martin understood, well that I was autistic and that I wanted to understand him so that I could understand him.


I do care about people, like the man at the corner store. I know his wife has cancer, and I remember asking him how she is doing. I feel very sad for him. My empathy is on or off. If I am with you, it is on, if I am away from you it is off. I simply could not exist in any other way. No one could exist feeling as much as I do without some mechanism that turns off all the care.

7 billion people that I want to be happy—an impossible task!


The people that do occupy my mind when I stop interacting with them are people that I have had in my life and had to remove because they have been unkind to me in one way or another. I never want them to be unhappy. It makes me unhappy. So I tend to obsess a fair amount about them.


My life is pretty perfect right now. I adore Martin. I adore him like crazy. I love how he looks smells, smiles, thinks, walks, dresses, interacts…yes he is my special interest…and you know he is what I had hoped and wished for when I was 16 someone who would treat me kindly and adore me and for whom I would matter more than anything.

Then there is my son who I care for, and my dog also.

And that for me is more than enough people/beings that I care for.


So long answer short…I don’t miss people who I stop interacting with—I have a good cry and then turn my attention elsewhere.

References

This article
was written by:
dr-natalie-engelbrecht
I’m a dually licensed registered psychotherapist and naturopathic doctor, and a Canadian leader in trauma, PTSD, and integrative medicine strictly informed by scientific research.And not only do I happen to be autistic, but my autism plays a significant role in who I am as a doctor and how I interact with and care for my patients and clients.

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