Non-derogatory DSM-5 diagnosis criteria for Autism

From ActuallyAutistic Wiki

Here is the link to this @Twitter threadđŸ§”

You might be Autistic if you meet the DSM-5 criteria for Autism, presented here in a non-deficient manner.

Category A: Intuitive Autistic Empathy[edit]

You have Intuitive Autistic Empathy instead of Intuitive Allistic Empathy

You intuitively communicate and interact using Autistic Empathy rather than Allistic Empathy, but you may have learned to mask, mimic, or emulate Allistic Empathy.

Three Requirements:

  • 1. You do not naturally reciprocate social-emotional Allistic norms.

Example: you Infodump.

  • 2. You do not demonstrate natural proficiency or acceptance of non-verbal Allistic communication.

Example: people ask why you always look mad because you are not smiling all the time.

  • 3. You do not demonstrate that relationships dependent solely upon Allistic empathy are fulfilling.

Example: You don't want to hang out with people you don't like "just to socialize."

Category B: The Four Identifying Autistic Traits[edit]

Beyond Autistic Empathy, there are four primary Autistic Traits.

Note again that masking, ABA, emulation, etc. may have eliminated outward manifestations of some or all of these traits, so when assessing, consider your entire life experiences (see Category C).

At some point in your life you must have demonstrated 2 out of 4 of the following:

1. Stimming or Self-Stimulatory Behavior[edit]

Does it feel "good" to repeat physical actions, vocal actions, or otherwise? Do you have a natural impulse to move your body or state things systematically that Allistics do not demonstrate?

  • Note that it is widespread to suppress this behavior to fit into Allistic norms, and one may need to practice stimming to re-access their ability to stim.
  • Note that Stimming might only manifest during extreme stress, such as rocking your hips or intense pacing.
  • Note that overwhelming muscle pain over your entire body may signify years of suppressed stimming.

Vocal stimming takes many forms:

  • Making animal noises (meowing, etc...)
  • Random sounds
  • Repeating what was stated by another
  • Repeating phrases Even more random sounds

Stimming is rooted in an Autistic person's need to relieve Autistic stress.

The desire to stim rises with Autistic stress and Autistic stress is relieved by stimming.

2. Demonstrating a Strong Preference for Predictable Outcomes[edit]

  • Strong desire for expectations to be set and met.
  • Able to excel in a static environment that Allistic people could not handle.
  • Resistance to illogical changes.

3. Special Interests[edit]

  • Deriving joy and/or personal fulfilment from exceptional exploration of a topic of interest.
  • Note that this may take many unexpected forms. For example, one might develop an interest in learning a broad spectrum of interests i.e. "collecting hobbies".

4. Hyper and/or Hypo Senses[edit]

An Autistic person may have any of their senses in whole or in part be more or less sensitive than the Allistic standard. Note that as this is related to perception, it may go unnoticed until a thorough assessment is made.

Note that the Hyper/Hypo Sensory aspect of Autism proves that Autism is a Neurological condition. Many people misunderstand Autism to be Behavioral or Psychological, but it is based on different brain wiring.

This Hyper/Hypo Sensitivity to the environment can take on a vast spectrum of phenomena and can be extremely broad or specific.

Category C: Confirm You Were Born Autistic[edit]

This is a nuanced category and is a bit of a "cover your ass" scenario with two major points:

  • People are born Autistic BUT Autistic traits might not show up until late in life AND can be masked.
  • Acquired Neurodivergencies can mimic Autistic traits, which would not be Autism.

People are born Autistic[edit]

You cannot acquire Autism, it is present in early development but may go unnoticed until late in life due to:

  • Masking


  • Lack of Autistic Stress


Masking is when an Autistic person consciously or unconsciously suppresses Autistic traits.

Lack of Autistic Stress[edit]

The intensity of Autistic traits is linked to Autistic stress.

Suppose an Autistic person is in a conducive and accommodating environment compatible with their Autistic needs. In that case, their problematic traits may not rise to detectable levels until Autistic stress exceeds the limited capacity of the person to manage them without accommodations and support.

To be extremely clear, people can become aware that they are Autistic at any stage of life. People in their 70s learn that they are Autistic without seriously suspecting it earlier in life.

Acquired Neurotypes Can Mimic Autistic Traits[edit]

The most relevant aspect of Category C is that Autism-like traits may be acquired through ptsd, tbi, and other acquired Neurotypes.

For an official DX, the diagnostician must try to eliminate the possibility that presented Autistic traits were not acquired from a non-Autistic origin.

Category D: Medical Diagnosis Qualifier[edit]

Category D is of no relevance to a Self Diagnosis.

Even if a person is Autistic, due to the limits upon which society is willing to accommodate the disabled, a society-based functional limitation is mandated on those who may be medically diagnosed as Autistic.

At the time of assessment, an Autistic person, even if meeting all qualifications of Category a, b, and c, must convince a licensed practitioner that at the time of the assessment, the net effect of their Autistic traits and their current level of ability requires support.

If an Autistic person manages to convince a practitioner that they need accommodations during any assessment, then that Autistic person is protected for life at that level of assessed need, independent of changing circumstances.

This means that an Autistic person receiving all necessary accommodations going into assessment may fail Category d and not be eligible for a diagnosis of Autism.

Category D is, by definition a social construct applied to limit the number of people who can be diagnosed as Autistic and as long as Category D remains part of the DSM, the diagnosis of Autism will not 100% match the number of people assessed to BE Autistic.

Many older individuals are identified by their diagnosticians as Autistic but are not given a DX on the basis that the diagnostician decides that they "don't need it."

Category D is inherently flawed in that an Autistic person's support needs are linked to their environment and other dynamic factors that can change at any time.

Category E: No "Better" Explanation[edit]

Category E is extremely similar to Category C.

The nuanced difference is that Category C is about acquired Neurotypes but Category E applies to other Neurotypes that arise in early development.

Category E boils down to "making sure another neurotype does not make more sense for explaining the displayed behaviours.


To summarise and simplify, If you have:

  • Intuitive Autistic Empathy instead of Intuitive Allistic Empathy.

And 2 or more of the following:

  • Stimming
  • Desire for Predictable Outcomes
  • Special Interests
  • Hyper/Hypo Senses


  • There is not a reasonable explanation for it other than Autism.

Then you are VERY LIKELY Autistic.

Video Explanation[edit]

Yo Samdy Sam has an excellent video that goes over this as well

Special Note on Stimming[edit]

For those who read this and were gobsmacked with the revelation that their muscle pain could be due to suppressed stimming, here is a guide on deprogramming stim suppression.

If you are suppressing stimming, it should become obvious pretty quickly.

Here is the link to this @Twitter threadđŸ§”