It can be difficult to tell Autistic and OCD experiences apart! Some may wonder why this matters, but to manage OCD intrusive thoughts and compulsions it’s of utmost importance to understand how these two neurodivergences clash but also how they overlap.
I have summarised my main experiences of being an Autistic OCDer:
Social differences – preference for explicit communication
Cognitive differences – executive dysfunction, good pattern spotting
The compulsive need to do certain things over and over to relieve obsessive thoughts
Thoughts do not reflect the persons morals
Unwanted thoughts or images
Most of these shared behaviours are based in cycles of distress including anxiety, thoughts of shame, repetitive behaviours, set routines, overwhelm and fatigue.
OCD is desperately trying to keep me safe, it is a trauma response which aims to keep me happy but does so in a rather unhelpful and destructive manner. This is not helped by my Autistic emotional and sensorial sensitivities. How these two overlap and entwine makes it very difficult to understand how to look after myself and keep myself physically and mentally safe.
Trying to differentiate between self stimulatory behaviour (stimming) and my compulsive behaviours (and for that matter impulsive behaviours due to being Attention Hyperactive) is really difficult. They are important differences to understand as one wants to help me stay regulated whilst the other makes me seek out constant reassurance from mine and others behaviours. OCD makes me think I have control over things I just don’t and this constant gaslighting exhausts me.