Taking an Online Autism Assessment

TikTok told us that we're Autistic. To be fair, we already had that theory ourselves...So just for fun let's take the IDR Labs Autism Spectrum Test live on microphone!


Courtney: Hello, lovely listeners, and welcome back. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And we are The Ace Couple. And today, we’re gonna have a little fun. We’re going to do something a little different. We have never taken a quiz live on microphone before, but this is gonna be… something. [laughs] So – actually, I don’t even think I told you this, Royce, but a couple weeks ago, it occurred to me that something that might be fun for an episode would be to find, like, a really cheesy internet couples quiz to take. However, a very quick Google search of, like, couples quizzes – I found a couple that were just really bad, [laughs] just really really bad.

Royce: That’s kind of what I expected.

Courtney: But not even bad in, like, the fun way or funny way.

Royce: That’s kind of what I expected.

Courtney: So I was like, “These are boring. They’re not interesting. They aren’t even going to give us a silly answer like, oh, ‘What TV couple is your relationship?’” You know, like those old actual quizzes that we’d take in, like, teen magazines [laughs] in the early 2000s? I was trying to look for, like, a Buzzfeed version [laughing] of that, but to no avail. To be fair, I didn’t look very long, because I wasn’t that interested in it.

Courtney: But, shortly after having this idea and having it fall flat very quickly, I decided to open up TikTok and did a little scrolly-scrolly. And lately, a [laughing] not insignificant portion of my TikTok For You page is like, “Hey, surprise! You have autism!” So, [laughs] autistic TikTok – I don’t know if there’s a more clever term for it, like AuTikTok, perhaps? Probably no one calls it that. But AuTikTok has, um… informed me that there is a new ’tism test by IDRLabs. [laughs] I know nothing about this company. I know nothing about this test. We are going in with very little information, save for lots of people on TikTok are talking about this. And you know, the popular theory is that, uh… we both have a smidge of the ’tism.

[thump sound in the background] What was that?!

Royce: Sounded like a package hitting our doorstep. It was probably –

Courtney: Violently? [laughs]

Royce: It was probably – it sounded like a heavy package thrown like a buzzer beater basketball shot.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: They just chuck it from across the court. Like, the truck driver threw it from the sidewalk.

Courtney: Oh, that was such a loud boom right outside our door!

Royce: Actually, I think it was just a heavy package being dropped a few inches, but it did sound like –

Courtney: [imitating sound, softly] Boom!

Royce: It sounded like an old, like, newspaper delivery bicyclist just hurling the papers from the sidewalk as they drove by and having it hit the doors.

Courtney: Yeah, but heavier. That was like Sunday newspaper. [laughs] Wow, I doubt the microphone actually picked that up, but that was… that was alarming. I hope they didn’t break whatever we got delivered! What did we get delivered? What’s at our door right now? [laughing] I’m sure our listeners are dying to know: what sort of package has arrived at The Ace Couple household?

Royce: Okay, that’s what I assumed. It is meal delivery.

Courtney: Ahh. We have been doing Purple Carrot lately – a vegan meal service along the lines of HelloFresh and Blue Apron and those kinds of things, but vegan. So yay, we have food! Food for the week!

Royce: Yeah, and that has helped mostly with recipe decision paralysis.

Courtney: Oh yeah. There’s a lot of that. [laughs]

Royce: There are things I don’t like about the meal delivery services. They are a bit pricey, and there’s – I don’t know where they get their marketing statistics from, but – like, their branding statistics, but they say how much waste it saves, and I don’t believe them. There’s a lot of packaging waste.

Courtney: I’m sure it saves waste in some ways, but not in others, and I’m sure they’re taking whatever numbers they can to inflate it as much as possible. But one thing that’s been really nice is that we’ve been able to turn it on for weeks that we know we are really going to need just meals put in front of us with all the ingredients so we can just make it. But we’ve also gone through phases where we will turn it off, but we’ll still go back and re-cook previous meals that we liked before and just go grocery shopping on our own. So that’s been really nice, to just find new recipes that we like enough to make multiple times.

Courtney: But, anyway, onto this quiz. So I saw people on TikTok talking about this quiz, laughing about their results, showing a very pretty rainbow, like, accidentally gay pride graph that people get at the end. And I just thought, “Well, that’s, um, actually a little more our speed. If we’re going to actually do a quiz on microphone, it would just make more sense to do an autism quiz than a relationship quiz.” Because we’ve never taken a relationship quiz in our day-to-day life, but we have absolutely sat down together, separately on our laptops or our phones, [laughing] to take autism assessments online.

Royce: I only remember doing one. And was it after we watched Everything’s Going to Be Okay?

Courtney: We did, yes. We already had our suspicions. The theory that one or both of us could be autistic was already floating around in our heads before watching that, but – we did talk about this a bit when we reviewed that TV show, but one of the characters was not diagnosed until adulthood, and he had a younger sister who was diagnosed with autism and had just a completely different set of autistic traits than he did. So when the idea came up that “Hey, you might be autistic too,” he was very surprised, didn’t think it could be the case, so they actually went online and found, like, online autism quizzes to take – which, it should go without saying, is is not a diagnosis. Some people care more about a formal diagnosis than others. So, we are, for the most part, very in favor of people who self-diagnose. I wouldn’t have half of the diagnosis I have if I didn’t figure out what was going on with me from the disability community first, before going to knowledgeable doctors. So there’s a huge benefit to self-diagnosis and exchange of information from communities. But even this quiz, as we go into it, it’s like, “This is not to substitute for seeing a doctor!”

Courtney: But yeah, it was very much at that time we reviewed that TV show that we thought, like, “Oh, we’ve been thinking about this for a while. Should we go find an online test? [laughing] Should we just take one real quick?” And so we did. I also found a surprisingly Ace – a very Ace- and autistic-friendly tweet, which I also found from the lovely assistance of TikTok, which just had me cracking up. It says: “You’re in her DMs, but she’s in my bed, and we’re taking online quizzes in order to figure out if either of us have autism.” [laughs] Follow-up tweet: “I think we both have autism.” Follow-up follow-up tweet: “This is the perfect relationship, by the way.” [laughs] And so here I was, seeing that tweet, being like, “I think we’ve literally done that. I think we have literally been in bed [laughing] when we were taking that quiz.” Oops.

Courtney: And so we’re not necessarily taking this to prove any points, to confirm any theories. We’re more so doing this just because it’s become very obvious to us that a lot of people who have some kind of neurodivergence – be it autism, ADHD, et cetera – but haven’t gotten a diagnosis until adulthood or have very high levels of masking traits, things that make it difficult to get one of those diagnoses early on – this path seems very very common: where somewhere in adulthood you get just a TikTok that hits you very weird or you see a tweet or you realize all of your friends are neurodivergent and you’re the only one who doesn’t have a diagnosis. And then you start thinking, “Hey, maybe – maybe me too.” And then you pull up an internet quiz. And hopefully this will just be a little bit fun and a little bit, uh… validating for anyone else out there who is in the same boat that we are.

Courtney: So, onto the quiz. Question 1 of 50. I already have an issue with the question. So here’s the problem: anytime I take any kind of test, every question, I’m like, “I need more details.” [laughs]

Royce: And you aren’t going to get them. So what is your first question? Because I was curious if these were going to be randomized or if they’d be the same for both of us.

Courtney: Ah, that’s a good question. Mine is: “I am often beset by feelings of sadness.”

Royce: Okay, so they are randomized.

Courtney: Ooh.

Royce: Which is interesting, because if you’ve ever been a part of information-gathering, the advice is always to randomize the questions and the responses, because the order of questions and responses can influence people’s decisions, sometimes.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: Generally, that helps with the consistency of your responses, if you have some sort of potential bias in your questions – from an information-gathering perspective. I don’t know how useful it is for us as takers of the quiz, unless we’re taking it repeatedly.

Courtney: Mmm. Fair points. Fair points.

Royce: But that makes it a little more difficult to discuss. I guess we’ll just have to go back and forth, question to question.

Courtney: Yeah, so here’s my issue every time I take a quiz. I look at this question, “I’m often beset by feelings of sadness.” I’m like, how often is “often”? What do you mean by “often”? [laughs] Are we talking daily? Are we talking weekly? Is this just, like, a little twinge of sadness counts as being beset by sadness, or is this like a kind of sadness where, like, you’re dwelling on it for a substantial part of your day?

Royce: I mean, I would say “often” is relative to the perceived normal or average, to which I think the answer is “agree.”

Courtney: [laughs] “Agree,” sure. Agree!

Royce: My first question is: “People have told me that I make repetitive strange noises and/or repeat certain words out of context.”

Courtney: I think I do that. I don’t know if you do that. [laughs]

Royce: I don’t think I do that. The only time I really repeat things – it’s actually just a manner of communication that I do exclusively with you, where I feel like something has been said and that something needs confirmation, and instead of saying, like, “Okay” or “Yeah” or “I heard that, I get what you’re saying,” or something like that, I just repeat the last word or the last phrase or something out of something that you said.

Courtney: Mmm, there’s a word for that. It’s called “echolalia.”

Royce: Really? Okay.

Courtney: And I do that a lot. And I don’t know if the reason why you do that is because I do that or if it’s because you don’t mask around me. [laughs]

Royce: Oh, that’s a good… that complicates factors. I think it’s probably a case of you setting a pattern of communication and me following that pattern.

[Courtney continues laughing]

Royce: But yeah, it isn’t, like –

Courtney: But does that fall outside of the realm of what is normal in long-term relationships or not?

Royce: Well, that’s not part of the question.

Courtney: That’s true. [laughs]

Royce: But to compare to one of our listeners who’s hopefully about to crack up at work –

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: I’m not just going about my day and feel the need to say “quack” out loud.

Courtney: [laughs] Quack! [laughs] This is a direct call-out. You know who you are.

Royce: So I’m putting “disagree” on that one. I don’t think I do that.

Courtney: Well, it’s on a tiered thing, so maybe don’t go “disagree” the hardest. Maybe just go light “disagree.” Because it’s on, like, “Strongly agree,” “Agree,” “Neither agree nor disagree” kind of a system, which –

Royce: I think I strongly disagree.

Courtney: Really? Okay.

Royce: I don’t think I make repetitive noises or repeat words out of context.

Courtney: Okay.

Royce: I think they’re contextual in a certain pattern, and I often just don’t make a lot of noise.

Courtney: That’s true. You are very quiet. Wasn’t it to the fact that, like, once upon a time, when you were around more people other than just me, people would consistently, like, get startled because you snuck up on them even though you weren’t intending to do that, you were just walking very quietly?

Royce: Oh yeah, I’ve always walked quietly. There’s that, too. Which, I don’t know if that is a habitual product of, like, toe-stepping – like, not putting your heel down. Is that a quieter form of walking? Or am I just very aware of noises that I make?

Courtney: You do walk on your toes, which I did not know was an autism thing. And I didn’t even think it was that weird. I just knew it was a trait about you, and I didn’t think it was unusual. But I distinctly remember one day where my mother came over just to, like, pick something up – and this was a few years ago at this point – and you, like, walked out to hand it to her and walked back, and you were walking on your toes, and my mom noticed that as something that was unusual. Because she asked me, she was like, “Does Royce always do that?” [laughs] I was like, “Yeah, why? [laughs] That’s normal.”

Courtney: “I have been described as having an unusual posture.” [laughing] I don’t think anyone has specifically described me that way.

Royce: No one has just walked up and said, “Courtney, your posture isn’t usual.”

Courtney: Well here’s the – here’s the thing. Do I contort my body oddly? Yes. But usually, more so when I’m sitting down than standing up. Back when I was a little more able-bodied than I am now – I was never fully able-bodied, genetic disorders! – but I had dance training. So, like, ballet, like, perfect upright posture was a thing that I always tried to maintain, even if I wasn’t in a dance class at that time. But I guess you could almost make an argument that thinking that heavily about your posture all the time and trying to hold yourself to a ballet standard even in casual day-to-day life could technically be considered unusual. But now I’m just rarely standing straight up and down, because if I’m standing for too long, I’m like, “I need to sit down,” or I’m bending over and putting my hands on my knees, but that’s more physical discomfort than anything. So I genuinely have no idea how to answer this. Royce, what is my posture like when I’m not thinking about it? [laughs] When we’re just hanging out casually, is it unusual? Would you describe me as having an unusual posture?

Royce: Yeah, I don’t really care for this question. I’m inclined to say “slightly agree,” because I think you do slump quite a bit, but I think a lot of people do that. I don’t think I have a good standard for what the bar is that we’re comparing towards.

Courtney: Yeah, I don’t either. I’ll say “slightly agree.”

Royce: Mine is: “People sometimes tell me that I’m being rude in conversations even though I think I’m being polite.” And… I don’t think that has been mentioned very frequently. I think I’ve noticed times when I say something and that I don’t get the reaction that I expected and I think, “Oh, that came out a little wrong.” So I’m inclined to say “slightly.”

Courtney: Go for it. “When watching movies, I do not usually look at the eyes of the actors”? I don’t even know! Do I? Do I? [laughs] I just look at the screen and watch the movie!

Royce: That’s interesting. I don’t think that I fixate or avoid. I don’t think that it makes a difference for me.

Courtney: I don’t – I think I look at their eyes? But I genuinely don’t know! [laughs]

Royce: What is the question again?

Courtney: “When watching movies, I do not usually look at the eyes of the actors.”

Royce: Okay. I’m interpreting this question as an actual avoidance of the eyes. Every eye-tracking study I’ve ever seen that has had people in the images has shown that people tend to look at faces immediately. So I think that is the standard. So I would –

Courtney: Yeah, but didn’t you also see an eye-tracking study that’s like, “Men tend to look at the crotch of other men?” [laughs]

Royce: Yeah.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: That happens too. That is a very frequent thing. But yeah, faces attract attention in images pretty universally. So I would say, this is a question of, like –

Courtney: I think I’m gonna go “disagree” –

Royce: – eye avoidance.

Courtney: – because I’m pretty sure I do, but honestly, now I’m going to be overthinking it next time I watch a movie. I’m going to randomly remember this question in the middle of the movie, and I’m going to be like, “Wait, where are my eyes?” [laughs]

Royce: Yeah, you’re not going to be able to relax and watch it anymore? Yeah, I feel like it’s… I feel like my eyes generally go where the cinematography leads it.

Royce: Anyway, mine is: “I accumulate lots of facts on subjects and topics that interest me.” And that is a very much “Agree.”

Courtney: You literally just justified our answer to the last question with, “Oh, well, eye-tracking studies that I have read…” [laughs]

Royce: I mean, that’s work, not a hobby.

Courtney: I know, but we do read a lot of studies. [laughs] We research a lot of things.

Courtney: “As a child, I would often repeat words or phrases that were said to me.” Yes. “Strongly agree.”

Royce: “I talk to my friends at a party the same way I would talk to my coworkers.” Mostly, yeah, but I’ve always had a very relaxed working place.

Courtney: Yeah, you don’t have, like, the suit and tie or, like, office culture that most people tend to have.

Royce: Yeah, and going into the working environment – I mean, the general software is a little more corporate than gaming software, but when I was in college, I was reading about gaming studios that would intentionally show up to, like, Microsoft in, you know, jeans and a t-shirt, and people going into interviews and being, like, “Suit and tie is a red flag” –

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: – and just general anti-corporate culture, and thinking, “That sounds nice. Let’s do that.”

Courtney: Well, see – and this is the thing, too, because here with so many of these questions, it’s like, we aren’t taking them as the question at surface value. We’re like, “What’s the intention behind this question?”

Royce: Right. I mean, I think I mostly agree with this. I think I don’t make a huge distinction between friends that I’m socially around and coworkers.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: I mean, sometimes coworkers suck and you’re just around them because you’re in the same office building, but for the most part, like, a number of my friends were friends because we happened to be in the same area because of work.

Courtney: Well, you’ve worked with a lot of really cool people, too. Like, there have been coworkers of yours that have become actual personal friends of ours that we would invite over for, like, board game nights and things. So I’d say yeah.

Courtney: “Expressions like ‘raining cats and dogs’ and ‘feeling like a million dollars’ are confusing to me.” No, I don’t think so.

Royce: “I’m almost always in the same neutral or flat mood.” Usually, yes.

Courtney: The word you used when we very first started talking to each other was “apathetic.”

Royce: Yes.

Courtney: “Generally apathetic about most things most of the time.” [laughs]

Courtney: “I am rarely worried about anything.” Oh, this is exceptionally situational for me. Because I worry about a lot of things all the time, but there are certain situations that are normally very high-stress for a lot of people that just don’t phase me at all. Like, stressful travel situations? Pfft, I don’t care. Flight’s delayed? Doesn’t matter. Phone broke? Phone died when you’re in an area you’re unfamiliar with and you don’t know how to get back to your hotel? Doesn’t matter to me. I’ll figure out a way.

Royce: But contrast that to phone makes the tiny noise that it’s supposed to make all the time.

Courtney: Mmm. So – [laughs] Mmm. Royce. [laughs] Listen! [laughs] Yes, it is true, I am a lot more comfortable if I have accidentally gotten lost and my phone has died and I have now been locked into a cemetery at night because I got lost in the cemetery while walking in a large city that I am unfamiliar with. I am a lot more comfortable in that situation than I am at home receiving an email. [laughs] So how do I answer this question? Hmmm. Hm-hm-hm-hm.

Royce: While you’re deciding, I have a call-out question.

Courtney: Ooh.

Royce: This is one –

Courtney: For you or me? [laughs]

Royce: No, for me.

Courtney: Okay.

Royce: This is one of those that’s like… it’s one of those things that I don’t hear people talking about that’s like, “Yes, absolutely. [laughing] Is that a diagnosable thing?” Probably, since it’s on this quiz.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: But it’s: “I have trouble understanding what people mean when they say they feel happy for someone else.”

Courtney: Oooh.

Royce: I have absolutely no idea what that feels like.

Courtney: Really. Interesting.

Royce: Like, someone can tell me news and I can logically think, “That is a good development! You seem excited about this!”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: Like, “That sounds like an improvement to your daily life. That’s a good thing.” But I don’t… There’s no attached emotion.

Courtney: Fascinating. I do think… The one thing that is really interesting – when thinking about autism as like a spectrum, one thing that comes up a lot in, like, stereotypes, I guess – a lot of people will stereotype, like, “Oh, autistic people don’t feel empathy,” or you’ll get the other side of things where autistic people have more empathy than the average person. Both could be true, and I think we fall on very different sides of that. I think I have an abundance of empathy. So – and it’s like, I can feel every emotion on behalf of other people. [laughs] Sometimes to my own detriment.

Courtney: I still don’t know how to answer this question about worrying about anything. [laughs] I guess I’m going to have to disagree, because it does say “anything,” and getting an email does count as something. [laughs] And I am worried about getting an email, basically all of the time.

Royce: You are passively worried about the prospect of someone contacting you through any means.

Courtney: Oh, give me a crisis that I can handle any day of the week over just, like, passively worrying that someone is going to contact me [laughs] via virtual means. Like, I am rarely worried in a face-to-face conversation with someone, but talking virtually – tweets, DMs, emails, anything of that matter – it’s like, nope. Nope, nope, nope.

Courtney: Okay. “I follow a set schedule closely and tend to avoid unfamiliar things.” That is a “strong disagree” for me.

Royce: “I cannot stand certain sounds, such as those made by vacuum cleaners, drums, and/or busy traffic.” That’s – I’m going almost “completely disagree” on this. Ambient noise is something that can become an issue if my baseline anxiety is high. And –

Courtney: Yeah, it’s very situational for you, I feel.

Royce: It is situational. And in those moments, it is – particular sorts of sounds or stimulation will stand out.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: But generally, noise doesn’t bother me too much.

Courtney: Here’s another question I have no idea how to answer: “I prefer to do things on my own rather than with others.” It 100% depends on the thing. What is the thing? Ugh, shoot, this is hard. [laughs] This is a hard quiz! There are definitely things I prefer to do on my own, but then there are definitely things I prefer doing with other people – or at least enjoy doing with other people. I don’t know if “prefer” is the word. I have, in past situations where I’ve needed to work with others, been really frustrated working with others if they’re, like, standing in my way of doing my job. And that’s why I don’t work with people anymore. [laughs] That’s not the only reason, but it’s a perk. I don’t know if I want to go “lightly agree” or middle-of-the-road. I don’t like giving middle-of-the-road answers because I’m not a middle-of-the-road person. I feel very strongly about a lot of things.

Royce: This is very true.

Courtney: [laughs] I feel very strongly about a lot of things, but I also don’t know how to answer blanket questions like this, because it’s very situational for me!

Royce: Well, while you’re deciding: “I sometimes have compulsive thoughts about being injured or having other bad things happen to me in extremely specific ways.” And that sounds like another call-out question.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: So, there’s something that I’ve had for a long time that I always correlated to watching horror movies with my grandparents when I was little. Like, my grandparents would just pick up movies at garage sales all the time – like, back in the days when everyone would just record what whatever was on TV on VHS –

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: – and then occasionally sell those VHS tapes –

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: – and crack jokes about the federal warning in the beginning of every movie that’s like –

Courtney: Yup. [laughs]

Royce: “If you sell this, you’re liable to lots of jail time and fines.”

Courtney: Oh gosh. When is even the last time a movie was released with that warning, that blue screen?

Royce: I don’t remember. That’s definitely… That was an era. But anyway, I would have times when I’d get a little flash of something that was, like, out of a horror movie – just like, you know, moving through a room or being out doing something, and I always just thought, “Well, I watched a lot of bloody stuff as a young child. That’s just how that works.” But frequently, if I’m just working upstairs and I have a thought of, “Oh, I need to go downstairs to grab something, I want to get something out of the kitchen, do this, do that,” I’ll get a little flash of me – I won’t, like, imagine the entire scenario or go through that, but I’ll get a little flash about, “Oh, I need to go down the stairs,” and see, like, my heel slipping on a step.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: That’s a very frequent one.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: I’ve had times when I’ve been in, like, close physical contact with someone where they’ve had a hold of my arm, and if my arm was straight and there was any sort of pressure against my elbow, it makes me really uncomfortable, because the immediate thought is, “Someone’s going to shift accidentally and potentially push my arm in the wrong direction, and I don’t have control of it to move it or prevent that right now.”

Courtney: Interesting. Sounds like intrusive thoughts to me. I’m gonna say “lightly agree” on the doing things alone.

Courtney: “Even when I am paying attention in conversations, I do not necessarily look into the eyes of the speaker.” So, this is a very interesting one. Because I think before the pandemic, if I was doing this quiz, I would have disagreed with that and been like, “No, I’m great at eye contact. I make eye contact with people all the time, no problems at all.” However, now that I’m not around people as often, I have noticed – I’m doing it right now – I’m looking at the wall [laughing] when I’m talking to you. And I’ve also noticed that when I go visit my mother – actually, she has also started doing that, where we will just like look off to the side or look at a wall while talking to each other. And I don’t think either one of us used to do that pre-pandemic when we were talking to people more.

Royce: I think I do both situationally. There are absolutely times where if I can just let my facial muscles relax and let myself stare off into space somewhere, I can think more clearly. But I think I also sometimes have a tendency to make more eye contact than the average person, or to hold it for longer.

Courtney: Yes! Yes, I think I do the same thing. And eye contact doesn’t make me uncomfortable. Like, I know it does make some people uncomfortable. But I think it’s just not necessarily important to me, if that makes sense. So I’m going to go “strongly agree” on that, because it wasn’t even asking about avoiding; it was just saying “not necessarily look in the eye.” It’s like, well, that’s true, I don’t necessarily do that. Sometimes I do.

Royce: “When I see a balloon, I worry that it might pop.” No.

Courtney: “When I’m having a conversation” – Did I just… So this is a different question, but it’s almost exactly the same question. “When I’m having a conversation with someone, I prefer to look at the wall, at their shoes, or somewhere other than into their eyes.” See, I don’t know if “prefer” is… I don’t like that word. Because I wouldn’t say I prefer it, but I would say I do it sometimes. I’ll say “neither agree nor disagree” on that one.

Royce: “I prefer to do things on my own rather than with others.” Generally, yeah. I think that social time itself is an activity for me. Like, I don’t think about doing things in the company of others. Like, “going and doing things with others” is, like, a separate category of activity.

Courtney: Mmm. Mhm.

Courtney: “I have a tendency to yell at people when I feel frustrated or stressed.” Absolutely not. Strong disagree.

Royce: “Others say that I speak too loudly or too softly.” Softly, perhaps, but I’ve been in work situations where there have been people commenting on, like, really soft speakers, and no one has explicitly mentioned me in contrast to other people. It might be, but I try to gauge… I try to speak loud enough and am generally aware of that. But possibly.

Courtney: If I get that question, I know how I’m answering.

Royce: That’s a good question. Are there only 50 questions, randomly done, or are there more questions and 50 are just randomly selected out of it?

Courtney: I don’t know. I don’t know. We’ll find out, perhaps.

Courtney: “People have told me that I can be obsessed about my interests.” Yes. [laughs] Yes, absolutely. Strong agree.

Royce: “I have a tendency to hit or destroy things when I’m angry or stressed.” No. Breaking things is…

Courtney: Bad.

Royce: Bad.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: Not only is that wasteful, but then you have to clean it up, potentially replace it.

Courtney: “As a child, I put most of the pressure on the front of my feet when walking.”

Royce: Oh hey, I haven’t gotten that one yet!

Courtney: And I genuinely have no idea how to answer that, because when I was a child, everybody thought I had flat feet, but turns out – I do have an arch, but my feet just – my arches collapse when I step on my feet, so that’s already not normal. And my ankles would roll on me so often that I could just be walking and all of a sudden, ankle would roll, and I would, like, faceplant. So, I have no idea how I distributed my weight on my feet. I’m gonna go ahead and say “lightly agree,” for lack of really knowing the answer for sure. I do at least know that there were a lot of things that pertained to, like, my dance lessons, when it goes back to posture and movement of the foot and body and stuff like that, that I definitely did try to implement outside of dance classes. And so, you know, walking toe-first in ballet is a thing. So I’ll say “lightly agree,” just for lack of knowing more specifically.

Royce: “Others have told me that I speak like a robot.” Not particularly, but I think when it comes to things like expression, I’m very one-tone a lot of times. Like, not excitable, usually. So I’m going to leave that middle of the road.

Courtney: “I dislike talking to people I don’t know.” Not as a general rule. There are specific people I don’t know that aren’t pleasant to talk to, but –

Royce: For me, it’s more of the concept of starting conversations doesn’t make sense to me, but if someone else starts a conversation, I’m usually fine talking to people.

Courtney: Yeah, I mean, back when I would just be out in public – again, doing things alone, also – I would travel alone, I’d go, you know, I would eat at restaurants alone, I would go to coffee shops alone – I’d strike up conversation with strangers, sure. “Disagree.”

Royce: “I am rarely worried about anything.” And that’s… I would say generally, I’m not particularly, but I do have kind of a background cycle of, “Here are things that are not done,” sometimes, or “things that I’m – things that need to be dealt with.”

Courtney: Well, how are you interpreting that, like, along with anxiety and, like…

Royce: Well, that’s the thing: trying to interpret “worried.” Because anxiety is a factor there. I think that it’s definitely more pronounced if my anxiety is high, but I guess I’ll leave that one somewhere in the middle. ’Cause yeah, situationally, sometimes, I think generally I can go day to day without really being concerned about much.

Courtney: “Others have told me that I have problems with my anger.” Nobody has ever told me that, I don’t think. I don’t think I experience anger the way neurotypical people do. I don’t always know what that actually feels like.

Royce: “I get obsessed with strings of numbers, such as dates or license plates.” That one is a hard no for me.

Courtney: “I have certain routines or habits that I feel I must follow.” [sighs] I dislike this question because, like, a daily routine, like a schedule, no. Do I have little, like, OCD habits where I’m, you know, doing various, like, finger-tapping… Depending on the room I’m in, I have little OCD quirks like that that I’m just kind of like passively always doing, and that could be a habit that I must follow, possibly. I’ll say “lightly agree.”

Royce: “I have never been good at sports.” That’s… I think that’s a pretty… not a really strong “no” for me. I’ve always been pretty coordinated. I don’t really practice things, which I think is, I think, the only reason why I would say that I’m not really an athlete.

Courtney: You were a whiz at dodgeball, though.

Royce: I’ve generally been pretty good at things that I’ve done enough to develop some sort of muscle memory or coordination to, but I struggle to, like, practice things.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: So I feel like when I’ve casually done any sort of physical thing with friends, I’ve usually been pretty decent at it. The issue with sports, really, for me hasn’t been the physical nature of it. It’s been the competitive social environment.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: Like, I realize – growing up, I did do, I guess, tiny bit of soccer, tried a little bit of basketball, but I just don’t like people in my personal space, particularly in this sort of, like, competitive environment.

Courtney: Yeah, that makes sense. I still think it’s pretty cool that you were on a dodgeball team.

Royce: I mean, that just happened because the company I worked at had a dodgeball court.

Courtney: Yeah, and I went to watch one of those dodgeball tournaments, and I was in awe at how you were simultaneously fierce and graceful. Like, hair flowing behind you as you chuck a dodgeball. [laughing] And you were very, very good. I was impressed.

Royce: The “graceful” comment has been something I’ve gotten a couple times. Like, that word specifically was used by a friend who I occasionally played racquetball with. And I guess I move differently than the average person in some way that I don’t really know how to quantify?

Courtney: You do! Yeah, I guess there have also been some times where I’ve given you some, like, dance lessons in our living room, and I’ve been really impressed at how quickly you’re able to pick up certain dance moves for coordination that don’t always come naturally to some people.

Courtney: “I feel irritated and/or angry when I have to navigate uncertain situations.” Gonna go “disagree,” because I think some of the aforementioned situations of, like, you’re traveling alone, you don’t know where you are, your phone’s dead – that’s an uncertain situation, and I kind of flourish in those.

Royce: Mine is: “I rarely experience happiness or joy.”

Courtney: That’s the next one on my list, too.

Royce: I think for me, that’s… I’m going to put “slightly agree” on that. I think that I am normally… was “flat” the word that was used earlier? I do get excited about things, but yeah, generally I think my base state is just kind of existing.

Courtney: [laughs] I think all of the emotions you experience happen very quickly and then kind of also subside very quickly, and you get back to your baseline very shortly after a spike of emotion.

Royce: Yeah, I think that’s fair.

Courtney: I’m gonna go “strong disagree,” because I feel lots of things all the time. Basically every emotion except anger, I think.

Royce: “I often bump into things or trip over my own feet.” I think I have to go “strong disagree” on that. I have stubbed my toe before. It’s been very infrequent. And I’ve never done it hard enough to cause a serious injury. And like, I’ve lived with people who broke their toe on a couch.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: And I also frequently just walk into dark rooms and I remember where things are. So it’s pretty uncommon. I guess I do occasionally, like, hit my wrist or my elbow or something moving around, but I also just move around a lot.

Courtney: “I usually feel unhappy more days than not.” [sighs] This… I need every single one of these questions to be more specific, because if we’re talking about my current day-to-day life right now, I’d say no. If we’re talking about the last ten years of my life, I’d say no. But if we’re talking about my entire life, every single year, and the number of days I have been happy or not, I developed severe depression as a very young child. And I think in the entire scope of my life, that’s true, is that I have been unhappy more days than not. But not lately.

Royce: My interpretation of this question is… I think the intent is more to say “in a controlled environment.” Not, “Has your life been traumatic?”

Courtney: Mmm, that’s a fair point. I’ll say “disagree,” then.

Royce: “It is hard for me to sit still without tapping or fidgeting.” I do fidget quite a bit. I tend to fidget in ways that don’t make noise. So, tapping is a definite no, but I am currently shaking my leg a bit right now.

Courtney: You say you don’t tap, but you absolutely do. You will, like, drum something out to the tune of a song that I immediately pick up, and I will call out the song, and you’ll be like, “Oh, is that what I was just tapping?” [laughing] Like, you didn’t even realize what that came from. I was like, “I know exactly what song you’re tapping.”

Royce: I guess I do that sometimes, but in the grand scheme of things that makes up a very tiny fraction of my fidgeting, I think.

Courtney: Okay, but it happens sometimes. [laughs] That’s also something – along with you’re, like, shockingly graceful, you have shockingly good, like, beat and rhythm for someone who hasn’t been a musician.

Courtney: “When I see a balloon, I worry it might pop.” That’s also a “disagree” for me. I think it was for you too.

Royce: Yeah.

Royce: “I find it difficult to make decisions or act without guidance from others.” That’s a pretty strong “disagree” for me. I tend to take in information and make decisions pretty quickly, with a few very specific exceptions of, like, anxiety paralysis.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: But even in those situations, I usually know what needs to be done; I just can’t make myself do it right then.

Courtney: Ahh, yes. That can be a problem.

Courtney: “At parties or other social gatherings, I will usually stand in corners or close to a wall.” Hard disagree. Absolutely not. I definitely have a party mode, and when I am in a party situation, I almost go into, like, entertainer mode. Like, even if I’m just telling a story to a small group of people, it’s like, I am on. I am entertaining this group of people I’m with right now. I’m telling a story; if there is music, I will be dancing.

Royce: See, I tend to have a spot. Or, like, I think the last time I lived in a house with roommates, whenever we were in the common area, someone remarked on how, like, I had a perch.

Courtney: [laughs] Like a bird!

Royce: Well, there were two couches. There was the main couch that was in front of the TV, where everyone else sat, and there was one further back that was just, like, someone’s extra couch that got moved in. I would always sit on the arm of the couch that was out of the main circle. And slightly out of the main circle is generally where I felt most comfortable, because I’m present enough to participate, but I’m not a part of the center of the focus of the social environment.

Courtney: Yeah. Sounds about right.

Royce: I got the “prefer to look at the wall, shoes, or somewhere other than people’s eyes.” I disagree with that. I think, like I said earlier, sometimes I can think better if I just let myself relax, but eye contact’s usually not an issue.

Courtney: Yeah. I just got a new one, which – I’m glad I answered the previous ones along those lines the way I did, because this one does specifically use the word “avoid.” It says, “I generally avoid eye contact with others.” And that I strongly disagree with.

Royce: “I often rock myself or fiddle with my hands to feel better.” I disagree with that one. I don’t think so. I think even when I’m fidgeting, it’s more of, like, a neural processing thing. It’s like, I need a little bit of stimulation to keep things going. It’s not really an emotional or a support thing.

Courtney: “I do not like going to loud places, like malls, markets, and amusement parks.” Well, see, you put one of my least favorite places with one of my favorite places in the same thing. I loathe malls, but amusement parks, really like.

Royce: I’ve never found amusement parks particularly amusing.

Courtney: I do find them amusing. I like going to amusement parks. I will go to them alone. If no one else wants to ride the rides with me, I will go alone, and I will play the games, and I will con the carnies, and it’s generally just a very, very good time. Except that one time a carnie pulled a knife on me. That wasn’t great. But I pulled a bigger one back on him, so.

Royce: Speaking of. My question is: “I almost always carry some special object in my purse or wallet that provides me with a sense of security, comfort, or control.”

Courtney: [laughs] Oops.

Royce: My answer is a hard no.

Courtney: [laughs] That’s a Courtney call-out one.

Courtney: For this “loud places,” I’m going to say “disagree,” because I don’t think the noise is the thing. I don’t like malls because I don’t like shopping. I don’t think the noise is a factor. But I do, however, have a system for going to malls, because I loathe going to the mall so much. I go in a full ball gown, hoop skirts and fancy hat and everything, because it is almost inevitable – if you go to the mall in full hoops, there will probably be a small child who takes a liking to you and comes up and thinks you’re a princess and wants to talk to you and maybe even wants to dance with you right in the middle of the mall, and that will have made the trip worth it. If you can make a small child smile, and if you can dance with that small child, then I will brave the shopping. [laughs]

Royce: Well, the big hoop skirt also serves to part crowds.

Courtney: Oh, yeah. People will part like the Red Sea if you are coming in a full, like, Victorian gown. It’s beautiful.

Royce: I just caught up to that question. I’m going to leave my slider right in the middle because, like you said, the loudness, the noise isn’t the issue. I don’t have an issue with louder busy places, generally. I just also don’t have any reason to go to these places, in most cases.

Courtney: True.

Courtney: I got the “I often rock myself or fiddle with my hands to feel better.” I am definitely a rocker, so I’m gonna go “strong agree.” I do rock – in more than one way. I was in a rock band once.

Royce: I finally made it to “As a child, I put most of the pressure on the front of my feet when walking.” I don’t know why they put “as a child.” I still do that.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: But I didn’t realize I did this for the longest time, because the entire home that I grew up in, including the bathrooms, were carpeted, and I’m okay with putting my heel down on carpet. I still put more pressure on the front of my foot than the back.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: And if it was a cold surface – like, a hard cold surface – I wouldn’t let my heel touch.

Courtney: Yeah, you always explained it to me like, “Oh, the reason why I started walking on my toes was because if I was getting up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water or something, I’d have to go on the cold kitchen floor and so I’d walk on my toes so less of my feet were touching the floor.” [laughs]

Royce: It was… The kitchen was carpeted. It was grabbing something out of the garage to feed the dog.

Courtney: Oh, the garage.

Royce: Which is not only a cold concrete surface, but it’s a garage floor. It’s dirty.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: There’s, like, oil marks, you know? I didn’t really keep, like, sandals or slippers around, so it was, “I just need to go grab this thing. I’m going to make my contact with the ground as limited as possible.”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: But I realized this in college, because my dorm had, like, a cheap faux-tile floor sort of a thing. And I remember taking my shoes off at the end of the day – that was a long day where I was up walking a lot – and just standing there for a moment and thinking, “Something’s weird. Something’s not right. What is different right now?” And after a few seconds of thinking, I looked down and realized, “Oh, it’s – my heels are touching the floor.”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: “That’s what’s different right now.” And then I had to think back, and I made up a reasoning, I guess, for why I thought that could make sense, but apparently it’s just a thing.

Courtney: It’s the ’tism. It was the ’tism the whole time, Royce.

Courtney: Okay, so I got the “purse or wallet” – “a special object that provides me a sense of security, comfort, or control.” So, uh, listen. My purse itself used to be this thing for me, because I would have anything and everything in it that I could possibly need. And I had to have my purse on me at all times. I’ve gotten better about that. But I always definitely chalk this up to an OCD thing, but the things I would keep in my purse, everyone thought were so weird, but they were all very very practical. I would always have a knife; in case a carnie pulled a knife on me, I could pull a bigger one back on him. Very practical. I would always have a pair of chopsticks, because occasionally, I would be offered food that I would need to eat with silverware and not have silverware. And when I would explain this to people, they’d be like, “Why don’t you just have, like, a spoon or a fork in your purse?” Because chopsticks can also be used for other things, and they have really, really worked out.

Courtney: When I graduated from high school or something, my grandmother was going through a phase where she was really into this new, like, sauna place in town that had opened up, and she was hearing all these, like, sales pitches about how, like, “Oh, it detoxifies the body, and it can help with pain,” and all these things. And she’s like, “Well, my granddaughter has pain.” So she got me, like, a gift card to the sauna place, and I did not like it. I did not like sitting in a sauna. I would bring my book and just read the whole time, but I did not like being in just a hot room for no reason except it was hot. [laughs] But, I mean, my grandmother bought me this thing, so I was like, “All right, I’ll just do it and use up my gift card.” But one time when I was in there, I dropped my bookmark, and it fell between the two slots of wood in this sauna, and the slot was too skinny for my fingers to reach down, and I was like, “No problem, I’ve got chopsticks in my purse!” So I got the chopsticks, and it was perfect to pick my bookmark back up out of this thing. And that’s not the only time that the chopsticks have been practical! So, it helped.

Courtney: I’d also keep very weird snacks in my purse. If it was kumquat season, I’d have kumquats in my purse. Sometimes I’d have little, like, miniature fruit pies in my purse. Now, one – Royce, you can attest to this – one time I had a whole gyro in my purse. [laughs] And the thing is, when I would have weird things in my purse, I’d just pull it out and I’d be like, “Here! Here is a thing!” And people would be like, “Why do you have that in your purse?” I’m like, “For situations like these.” [laughs] And no one could dispute that logic! But we went to have gyros before a hike that turned out to be way more of a thing than we expected that it was going to be.

Royce: That’s probably a story for some time, but let’s…

Courtney: That is a long story, but it’s a good one.

Royce: …go over it right now.

Courtney: Okay. Royce, make a note. Make sure I tell this story at some point. The gyro hiking. [laughs] That was quite a day. So I’m gonna say “strong agree.” Also, the one time I got arrested – also a story for another time. It was bogus; all the charges got dropped. It was a false arrest. Awful. The cops were just absolutely fucking awful to me [laughs] and this was at the height of my OCD, like, “I need my purse to be in the same room with me at all time.” So they, like, cuffed me, put me in the back of the cop car, and I was just, like, panicking and sobbing and scratching the heck out of, like, my wrist, and just saying, like, “Please just get my purse. Like, you can keep it in the front seat. You can keep it away from me. But I need it in this car right now.” Because it was in my car, which was further away. And they were, like, making fun of me for panicking so much for not having my purse. And it was just awful. So I’m gonna say “strongly agree,” even though I don’t necessarily have that as often as I used to.

Royce: I made it around to the “I feel irritated and/or angry when I have to navigate uncertain situations.” This is a bit more complicated to me. The “uncertain situations” is weird, because sometimes I’m fine with that, particularly if I’m just following along. But I do have a certain amount of intense scheduling anxiety sometimes.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: Particularly when it comes to transit or transportation or specific timelines. And the way that that comes up is, like, an intense sort of frustration.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: So I think that is very situational. I’m leaning either to keeping it in the middle or slightly agreeing.

Courtney: “I often bump into things or trip over my feet.” I’m gonna go “slightly agree,” because I do think I bump into things.

Royce: “As a child, I would often repeat words or phrases that were said to me.” I don’t believe I did that. I think, as a general rule, I tend to… well, I was about to say that I tend to only add to conversations when I had something specific to say, but I think that is a byproduct of social anxiety and masking, and I think that as a child, I was much more likely to just say things.

Courtney: Mmm. Mhm.

Royce: I don’t think I repeated things though.

Courtney: “I talk to my friends at a party the same way I would talk to my coworkers.” That one’s also tough for me. I think so, in that I am always willing to get deep or personal or weird with anybody who is receptive to any of those things, [laughing] no questions asked.

Royce: “I hate the sound of fireworks, fire alarms, and/or thunder.” I do not. I actually I think that I have a lower tendency than most to jump at loud noises, too, just thinking back to when fire alarms would go off in schools and things like that.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: Storms are always good, particularly Midwestern storms. Like –

Courtney: Oh, I love a good thunderstorm.

Royce: Thunder that’s so loud that it sets off car alarms?

Courtney: Oh, I love it.

Royce: Or –

Courtney: Shakes the house.

Royce: Rattles the windows, yeah.

Courtney: Beautiful. My favorite.

Courtney: “I sometimes have compulsive thoughts about being injured or having bad things happen to me in extremely specific ways.” I’m… yep, I’m an “agree” on that also. Which – also, so many of these, it’s like, well, I have been diagnosed with OCD, and some of these I have only conceptualized in the context of OCD, but there are definite traits that overlap between all of the neurodivergences.

Royce: “Others have told me that I have repetitive bodily movements.” What is your opinion on that? What are they looking for?

Courtney: “Repetitive movements.”

Royce: We’ve gotten into things like – like, I don’t rock. I don’t do things like that. I have… sometimes, I do the whole restless leg thing.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: But I think that lately, I have a higher tendency to just not sit in chairs in a normal way, and so I don’t do that as much.

Courtney: Yeah. So that’s one thing that I have seen people talk about in neurodivergent contexts, but it’s also something I’ve seen people talk about in queer contexts. Like, “I’ve never met a bisexual who sits normally,” [laughing] and things like that. And it’s like, “Hmm, there’s some overlap there too.”

Royce: I think a big part of it for me is a lot of the historical leg-bouncing things has been when I’ve been out of the house, in school or work or whatever, and I’ve had shoes on, and I don’t want to sit cross-legged in a chair with shoes on.

Courtney: Mmm, yeah. I’d say probably “no” for you, because when I heard that question, the first thing my brain went to is something that I did as a child but I don’t do as an adult – a couple of different things, actually. I had this very specific way I would, like, blink and roll my eyes that adults constantly commented on as something weird that I did, so that was a repetitive movement. And there was also sort of a way I would, like, move my neck and shoulder, which might just have something to do with my EDS and some level of pain or readjusting, I don’t know, but it’s something I did often enough that was recognizable that I don’t do anymore. So that’s what came to my head when I thought about repetitive movements. And I don’t think you have anything like that.

Royce: “When I get angry, I calm down faster than most people.” Yes, I believe so.

Courtney: Yeah.

Courtney: “It is stressful for me to have to retain eye contact with others.” That’s a “disagree” for me.

Royce: Yeah. I had that one just a moment ago. Is that three questions on eye contact?

Courtney: I think at least four.

Royce: “I get temper tantrums where others cannot reach me.” No, I don’t believe so.

Courtney: I have that one too, and I also don’t. Nope.

Royce: “Being away from home for extended periods of time frightens me.” No, I don’t think so. I actually think that… thinking back through, like, work/life changes, I’ve actually had people be surprised that I was just like, “Oh, I’m gonna go do this thing. I’m just gonna move away from home and across the country and do college.” And I’ve had times when a job shifted out from under me and I had to move cities or find a new job really quickly, and I just kind of let things fall into place and didn’t worry about them, to the point where a roommate was like, “It’s a good thing that worked out. You would have been out on the streets in, like, two weeks.” [laughs]

Courtney: [laughs] See, give me a major stressful life event that needs to be controlled and taken care of, and I am totally calm.

Royce: That is one thing. I answered the question earlier about generally being able to make decisions.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: And the first time I had a job that just completely fell out from under me – like, owner of the company flew in unexpected for the day and just basically took everyone into a room, one-on-one, to tell them that they were out of a job and at the company was dissolving, basically, kind of thing. Very small company, so it was, like, four or five of us that were like, “Well, shit. I came into work this morning expecting to just go about my day, and now it’s lunchtime and I guess I don’t work here anymore.”

Courtney: [laughs] Yeah.

Royce: And I had, like, a half-hour of panic, and then I just felt extremely energized.

Courtney: Mmm, mhm. Gotta do what you gotta do. I oddly love that zone. [laughs]

Royce: It did. I think once there was no uncertainty, and it was just like, things to happen, things need to change, it was a very good, exciting feeling.

Courtney: Mhm.

Courtney: “People sometimes tell me I’m being rude in conversations even if I think I’m being polite.” I don’t think I’ve gotten that, no.

Royce: “New social situations make me anxious.” Yeah, probably, for the most part.

Courtney: [laughs] “I get obsessed with strings of numbers, such as dates or license plates.” Now, this is an interesting one, because I don’t – unless we’re talking, like, Lost numbers, like 4 8 15 16 23 42, like, I still remember those, but there was a plot reason behind those, not just the numbers themselves.

Royce: You’ve mentioned license plates to me before. Because something like this has come up, and –

Courtney: It was a very different question. It was the first autism quiz we took. It was not about getting obsessed with the numbers, but it was about noticing the numbers. It was like, something along the lines of, “I often notice license plates when driving.” And it’s like, yes, I notice all of the license plates when I’m driving, and I thought that was normal but that was weird to you.

Royce: I didn’t know that that was even a thing. I didn’t know that they would stand out any more than anything else.

Courtney: So, yeah I don’t get obsessed with them, but I do think, phrased a different way in a different context, I do notice them a little more than average, but.

Royce: “I have certain routines or habits that I feel I must follow.” I don’t think so. I do like having an idea of what is coming, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be routine. it doesn’t need to be the same thing.

Courtney: Yeah.

Courtney: “Being away from home for extended periods of time frightens me.” Nope.

Royce: “I am very sensitive to noise.” I think that I do have sensitive hearing. I think that I have sensitive a lot of sensory things.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: But –

Courtney: You hear things in contexts that most people do not.

Royce: I’ve actually wondered if I might have some degree of hypersensitivity, just very light.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: Because it’s also – there are sometimes physical simulations, instead of auditory or things like that, where I might just be feeling something a little more pronounced. There’s also the aspect of – yes, there are times when anxiety is high where noise will become an issue.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: Specific kinds of noise. Or I’m suddenly much more aware of it. So I’m going to say… I’m going to partially disagree. Like, there’s some situational truth to this, but for the most part, I don’t think so.

Courtney: How is that one phrased?

Royce: I guess the question is “I am very sensitive to noise,” and I think I’m going to leave it in the middle.

Courtney: I think I would say “yes” for sensitive, because it’s not necessarily giving a negative connotation, like it’s bothering you.

Royce: Really? That’s how I’m reading it.

Courtney: Is that how you’re reading it? Okay.

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: I don’t know. Again, every single one of these questions, I’m speculating on the intent of the question, because I think if I know the intent and the logic, that will help me interpret the question to answer it correctly. [laughs]

Royce: I’m reading it as, “Do you occasionally need to, like, mute the world around you? Do you need to turn off stimulation?”

Courtney: See, and I was just like, “sensitive,” like, “Is it more pronounced to you than other people?” And if that’s the reading, then 100% yes.

Royce: I mean, I don’t think that volume of sounds or hearing ability is what they’re looking for, is where I’m going.

Courtney: But I have seen people in the online autistic community say things that are very much in line with what happens to you. Like, you’re at a party that is very noisy, but you hear someone knock on the door and no one else heard it, you’re the only one who heard it. Like, I have seen other people talk about that –

Royce: Mhm.

Courtney: – in an autism context. At which point I’m like, “That is Royce. That is absolutely Royce.”

Royce: Well, I will agree with that one then.

Courtney: Aha! [laughs] Persuaded.

Courtney: I don’t know how to answer “I’ve never been good at sports.” Because… I guess “never” being the key word. If we’re counting dance as a sport… well, for that matter, I was pretty good at fencing, also.

Royce: I mean, there’s practice and competitions. Dance is a sport.

Courtney: Yeah. And the thing is, I did get very, very good at dance, but I don’t think dance came naturally to me. I just started very young and then trained for hours and hours and hours every single day. So I got good, but a lot of that was just brute force to get good. But I was incredibly naturally good at fencing, but I only started fencing after I was already very coordinated from dance training. But certain things – like, most sports require running. I had a doctor write me a note in, like, fourth grade saying “No running or jumping anymore in gym class.” So a lot of sports I just never had the opportunity to try because of other physical disabilities. But I guess I’ll say “disagree,” since “never been good at” isn’t true. Not naturally good at, I think, perhaps.

Royce: This is a simple one. “I enjoy parties.” And… not particularly. Low-key parties, spaced apart enough, can be fun.

Courtney: That you have advanced warning is going to happen.

Royce: Yes.

Courtney: [laughs] You have to know that a party is the plan.

Royce: Well, that’s the difference between going to and hosting, particularly if you’re hosting a party and you’re given an expectation of what it’s going to be, and all of a sudden there’s a bunch of surprise invite guests, and it’s very different than what you expected. That’s jarring.

Courtney: Yeah. You struggle with that. I can get very go with the flow on things like that and things like traveling without an itinerary or a plan. Like, I can do those things in a way that you cannot.

Courtney: “Others have told me I speak like a robot.” I have not heard others say that, no.

Royce: And I’m on my final question. “At parties or other social gatherings, I will usually stand in corners or close to a wall.” I think, in spirit of the question, yes. It’s not usually a corner or a wall, but I do, like I mentioned earlier, prefer to be on the near outside of a social circle.

Courtney: Yeah.

Courtney: “I enjoy parties.” Yes, I do. Agree.

Courtney: “I hate the sound of fireworks.” Strong disagree. As we said, love thunder.

Courtney: And I have just a few more to finish up, but you skipped a couple questions – skipped ahead of me.

Royce: Yeah, if questions came up that we had already been talking about and I didn’t have anything specific to say, I just went through them.

Courtney: “I’m very sensitive to noise.” No, I don’t think so.

Courtney: “I am almost always in the same neutral or flat mood.” No, strong disagree.

Courtney: “I accumulate lots of facts on subjects and topics that interest me.” Yes, absolutely.

Courtney: “I have trouble understanding what people mean when they say they feel happy for someone else.” That’s a “disagree” for me.

Courtney: “People have told me I make repetitive strange noises and/or repeat certain words out of context.” Yes. I do some of those things some of the time.

Courtney: “I have a tendency to hit or destroy things when I’m angry or stressed.” No, although I guess there… Hmm. It’s not a tendency; more of a one-time thing. I was pretty stressed at one point, after a breakup, and I just, like, smashed all of my plates. [laughs]

Royce: Oh, really?

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: I don’t know if you’ve told me that. Maybe.

Courtney: I didn’t?

Royce: You may have mentioned it. You do have a certain… appreciation for cathartic destruction.

Courtney: [laughing] Yes, I do.

Royce: You’ve mentioned how going to one of those –

Courtney: Controlled destruction.

Royce: – like, what are they called? Like, the break rooms, where you just walk in and take a bat and pay some people some money and just smash things?

Courtney: I would do that.

Royce: Rage rooms? I can’t remember what they’re called.

Courtney: I haven’t done that, but I would. I would do that.

Royce: I just think it’s funny that people who have owned those places have been like, “I’m surprised at what percentage of the clientele are women.” Like, just –

Courtney: [laughs] I’m not!

Royce: It makes a lot of sense. Society –

Courtney: We are told to control those emotions.

Royce: Right. And here’s an outlet.

Courtney: Yeah, so after I had a breakup at one point, I went on a little mini road trip. One friend took me to see another friend who lived a couple hours away. And she was having a garage sale and getting ready to do garage sale things, and she had this beautiful set of vintage china. And I was like, “I’ve been thinking about getting new plates and bowls. I would love this china. This is beautiful.” So I took those from her. And when I got home with my new china, the theme of that weekend was, “China is better than boyfriends,” because I was like, “I don’t need a boyfriend, because I have china now.” [laughs] And that became, like, a running motto for a long time: “China is better than boyfriends.” So when I got home with my new china, at the very end of the night – very late at night, because we had driven several hours and spent a whole day there – I had some, like, dirty dishes in the sink that just hadn’t been cleaned, and I was like, “Well, I don’t even need to clean these now, because now I have china, and china’s better than boyfriends.” And this was very much still all the negative feelings of a very bad breakup, so I was like, “You know what I should do? I should just smash these plates.” So I just took them, one at a time, and I just threw them on the ground [laughing] and they shattered everywhere.

Courtney: And I was like, “You know what? This is great. Why stop at the dirty ones? ’Cause I don’t need these plates anymore!” So I smashed the clean ones too. But then I had to, um, sweep the smashed plates into, like, a garbage bag. But then it was too heavy [laughing] and the shattered bits were starting to break through the garbage bag. So I double-bagged the garbage bag. But then the garbage bag was too heavy for me to take out! [laughs] I couldn’t even drag it across the floor. So I made some bad choices. But it was very, very fun in the moment. It was very needed.

Royce: Question for you. In smashing and cleaning up all these plates, did you get any cuts or scrapes from the broken plates? And I –

Courtney: No, I don’t think so.

Royce: I ask because this is another just I guess odd circumstance. I don’t think I have ever cut myself picking up broken glass. And even as a kid, people would be like, “Oh, be careful, you’re gonna – something bad’s going to happen, you know? You’re going to step on something. You’re going to, you know, cut your fingers.” And I’ve always been able to just deal with sharp objects.

Courtney: Yeah, I think most of these pieces were a little too big to actually have, like, small pieces of glass that people worry about stepping on. But I don’t think I got… If anything, I just, like, dislocated my shoulder trying to move that big heavy bag, but I didn’t get cut. But now that I’m thinking about this question again, I burn things a lot.

Royce: That was immediately what I thought of.

Courtney: I love burning things. [laughs] Something has a bad memory – like, someone wrote you a nasty letter? Like, burn it. That goes in the burn pile. So, okay, I’ll agree with it.

Courtney: And final question: “It is hard for me to sit still without tapping or fidgeting.” For me, it’s rocking more than anything. Does that count as fidgeting?

Royce: I would call that fidgeting.

Courtney: All right, I’ll agree then. Time for the results!

Royce: One thing I’m realizing, looking at my results, is that I think that I have a tendency to put things more in the middle of the road on surveys like these.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: And I think that is affecting my results, with the exception being hard disagrees, like “No, this absolutely doesn’t apply to me.” Like, I would hit that one frequently, but I didn’t hit “definitely agree” all the way to the right very frequently. And I’ve always kind of done that, and I think that’s part of being in kind of a flat state most of the time.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: Like, “Yeah, this happens, but it’s not a big deal. It’s not a huge thing.” Yours has a little more color than mine.

Courtney: Yeah, I am really high on the “tics and fidgets.” Also sort of moderately high on “fixations,” “anxiety.”

Royce: Your “anxiety” from the test is actually higher than mine, which I don’t know if I agree with.

Courtney: That does not make sense.

Royce: I think… this is why I was talking about, my manner of answering questions on a sliding scale is maybe a bit tempered.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: I also think that I have just been aware of having social anxiety for so long, even before I knew, like, it was a potentially diagnosable thing. I think that I’ve reasoned with a lot of it or learned how to be in situations that doesn’t set it off too much.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: And that maybe that has tempered how I actually handle a quiz like this. Because in a lot of cases, I do have a lot of anxiety, but I also have a lifestyle that I’ve had a lot of control over for a long time now.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: I’ve been pretty independent for a long time and have been able to just go through day-to-day life in a way that reduces that, for the most part.

Courtney: A lot of flexibility and freedom, yeah.

Royce: But my highest one was “social difficulty,” and everything else is pretty small, for the most part.

Courtney: You’re pretty middle of the road on “abnormal flat speech.” And I guess, yeah, my “abnormal posture” is a little bit higher than yours. I’m honestly – I’m a little surprised that some of these categories for us are as low as they are. And yeah, maybe that’s just in how answering the questions – like “noise sensitivity” for you does seem really low, I think.

Royce: Yeah. I think that the the anxiety-specific ones – which, for me, “noise sensitivity,” I think, is highly tied to anxiety – I think those two are lower than I actually experience. But everything else I think makes sense. I don’t tend to have a lot of extreme emotional fluctuations, and “aggression” and “depression” are both very low. I don’t think that I tend to fixate very often; it does happen some. Eye contact we’ve talked about. So, yeah.

Courtney: Why is your “tics and fidgets” so low? Because mine’s almost completely full, and that surprises me.

Royce: Really?

Courtney: Yeah! Yours is hardly there at all.

Royce: Dermatillomania and things?

Courtney: Well –

Royce: You have a lot of OCD tics.

Courtney: I wouldn’t call the dermatillomania a tic.

Royce: It’s a compulsion.

Courtney: Yes. But, like, I don’t know. I don’t fidget in the way most people think of as fidgets. Like, actual fidget toys and fidget spinners and things are not things that I benefit from. But I do have – like I said, my OCD, I tap out certain patterns that coincide with the room that I’m in, and things like that. And I guess the rocking is one, but I don’t know. But why is your so low? Because –

Royce: Mine is incredibly low.

Courtney: Yours is. That can’t be correct. [laughs] ’Cause you fidget in a different way than I do, but you still do.

Royce: I don’t think that I have very many tics. I think I move a lot, and I think a lot of that I’ve always just described as sort of restless energy, where I just – if I move a bit while I’m doing something, I feel I’m better able to work out whatever it is I’m doing.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: Which I guess is – I don’t know if that’s how rocking manifests for people?

Courtney: I don’t really know. I feel like the rocking, for me – when I was kid, I noticed it while I was eating. If I was ever, like, eating lunch and not conversing with people, or eating on my own, I would notice that I was always rocking every time I was eating.

Royce: You still do that a little bit.

Courtney: I do, but I also think I do that when I’m not eating now. [laughs] So yeah. My autism spectrum symptoms are moderate, according to this test. I’ve taken other tests that, uh, beg to differ and think it’s a bit higher than that. But they are little explainers for what each of these things sort of mean. According to this, I have more autistic traits than you, and I don’t think that’s correct.

Royce: Really?

Courtney: Yes. [laughs]

Royce: I guess –

Courtney: They’re just different.

Royce: I guess I do have a couple of the high-profile ones, like the arm position when walking around and the toe-stepping.

Courtney: You have the T-Rex arms, yes!

Royce: But I think with the… in terms of broader neurodivergence, I think when we start to look at, like, OCD tendencies, and you’ve started looking into things like how ADHD manifests –

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: – and, like, sleep patterns and patterns of energy throughout the day and things like that.

Courtney: Yep. Yeah. It is interesting, too, because, you know, tests like these I think are a bit stereotypical, and some of the questions can be read or interpreted [laughing] very differently person to person, so that’s potentially a drawback to a quiz in this format.

Courtney: But I do find it funny, with all of the TikTok videos that TikTok has been showing me, there are certain just things that I would have never thought could have possibly been at all related to autism that will just pop up, and I’ll be like, [laughing] “Is that autism thing? I guess the consensus from this portion of the community is that yes.” One of them, the most unexpected one I saw recently, was like, “Oh, here’s how other autistic people know how to see other autistic people, and you only need two questions.” And first is, here’s a, like, tin of yogurt, and here are two spoons. One’s a normal-size spoon and one is a small spoon, and you just set them in front. And taking the small spoon was one. And it was, you took the small spoon to eat yogurt with. And then it was like, “Stand up for me,” and it was someone who had the T-Rex arms like you do.

Courtney: And I was like, “Hold on. Let’s investigate this spoon situation here.” Because my grandmother had yogurt spoons. That’s what she called them. They were yogurt spoons. They were tiny, teeny-tiny little baby spoons, and that’s what you use to eat yogurt with. And when I was a kid, I did not like yogurt. I didn’t eat yogurt until I was maybe 16 years old, I found a yogurt that I could eat with a yogurt spoon. And so, like, my Grandma and I, we were just like, “Yeah, it’s a yogurt spoon! [laughs] Tiny spoons are yogurt spoons.” And so the number of comments on this TikTok that were like, “Wait, the small spoon is part of it?” And everybody coming to this shared realization was wild to me. And I even Googled, like, “autism yogurt spoon” and I found, like, a Reddit post where someone was talking about how the only two options if you’re autistic for eating yogurt is either you never eat yogurt under any circumstances because the texture is wrong or you can only eat yogurt with a tiny spoon. [laughs] I was like, “Okay.”

Royce: The situational usage of utensils. Like, you definitely have that that. Like, “this is chopstick food,” “this is fork food,” “this is spoon food.”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: I don’t care. I tend to use whatever makes it the easiest, which is often a spoon. But I’ve also had times where I’ve made a comment about oversized silverware. Do you remember one time at, like, a group gathering where I made a joke and someone, like, went to grab a big serving fork thing?

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: And I was like, “Well, this is a bit now. I’m gonna eat this snack food with a massive fork.”

Courtney: [laughs] I mean, I appreciate that you committed to the bit. I would have done the same for the for the sake of the bit. For the performance aspect of it, I would have done the same. But just at home, yeah, like, there are specific utensils that need to be used. And man, even one of the comments on this TikTok was someone who was like, “My grandmother and I both have a yogurt spoon.” And I was like, “Wh– Hello! How many of you out there also have grandmothers with yogurt spoons?”

Courtney: So, yeah, this was a fun little thing. I hope you all found it interesting. Tell us what quiz we should take next! Are there actually any funny or amusing couples quizzes out there that we should know about? [laughs]

Royce: Things like these do prompt interesting discussions, sometimes, for very specific things that you wouldn’t have a reason to bring up and talk about otherwise.

Courtney: I have so many stories I feel like I need to share now. I need to share the carnie story. I need to share the gyro in the purse story. The ideas are flowing. But we’re already so, so far into this episode, so those will be for another time.

Courtney: So as always, everybody, thank you so much for being here. We really, really appreciate you. Do the things you gotta do for whatever platform you’re on. Likes, comments, subscribes, reviews, ratings, retweets, you name it. And we will talk to you all again next week.