What world are we talking about here?


A quote by an autistic person has stuck around for a long time in my head: I don’t get “lost in a world of my own” either. I don’t need to take a bloody compass with me when I am having a think.

The “in their own world” stuff has always been completely lost on me. When I first heard it, I thought people were talking about astronomy or something. But I hear it again and again, by people who are supposed to know something about autism.

The latest autism podcast is about moving your child up the autism spectrum. The problematic concepts don’t seem to stop with the title. The basic idea of autism is something like, “Here’s the triad of impairments. Here’s what we call low and high functioning for each one of them. Here’s some really odd ideas we have about what all this behavior means in the first place. Here’s how we act on those odd ideas to change the behavior to things more towards what we consider high functioning.”

But it’s one of the odd ideas I want to talk about.

They talk about a thing they call “our world,” and how they want to get autistic people “out of their own worlds” and into “our world”.

Some quotes (the bold used for emphasis is my own):

He wasn’t completely in his own world with the flapping or the swaying back and forth, like I’ve seen other kids.


A lot of kids are on the low end of the spectrum because they don’t have that communication piece, they don’t know how to get their wants and needs met, they’ve found their own ways to get out of our world.


Kids have a lot of ritualistic behaviors and that repetitive movement stuff because of a lack of understanding of what they’re supposed to do in the world, and when you increase their ability to communicate, and when you also increase you as something social in their life, then you start seeing that ritualistic behavior go down. Because they have more of an understanding for the world. […] So without the stress you stop seeing them in their own worlds with the repetitive movements, you start seeing them a little more in your world, less repetitive movements or ritualistic behaviors and more communication.

Okay… am I getting it correct that apparently when my body is moving in some repetitive way I’m supposed to disappear to some other planet or something? And I’m not understanding as much of my environment, or something? And if I stop moving in assorted repetitive ways, that’s supposed to mean I’m more engaged with… something or other?

Because that makes no sense to me. I’d almost start to cynically wonder if “in their own world” is a filler term used by people who have no explanation for something and therefore want to invent one, but I’d like to know what it’s actually supposed to refer to, because I really, really don’t disappear anywhere just because I’m rocking or flapping my hands or something.

I’ve asked people about this, and they’ve pointed me at people. And I’m somehow supposed to just understand by looking at people what this “own world” thing is that the people I’m looking at are supposedly in. Or it’s supposed to immediately convey a sense of urgency. And I don’t see interdimensional portals around most of them, nor do I feel urgent needs to feel urgent around them or something. So I’m going to ask again:

Where is this world we’re supposed to be in, and what does it have to do with flapping our hands and stuff? (As a bonus question, I guess, why would understanding my environment better supposedly have made me stop doing all the repetitive motions I never stopped?)


About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Developmentally disabled, physically and cognitively disabled. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died in 2014 and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

32 responses »

  1. I don’t know… but I think it’s that some people are saying (and I think I have used it this way) that when a person is staring off into space (which I did when I was a kid and do now) and not responding to sounds or activity going on in a normal way… then they appear to have “checked out of their body.” The “own little world” thing, the way I have used to describe my kid in the past (I don’t do it too much any more)… is also something about the fact that xe is not interested in the same things that NT kids are interested in.

    It’s like a normal baby is born into a social milieu where we see them trying, not only to fit in, but to rise to as high a position in any particular group as is possible. If someone totally doesn’t want to play that game they seem otherworldly… I think that’s part of it.

    A kid who is flapping is probably not spending much time thinking about how to build alliances on the play ground or how to get mommy to do this or that for him if he’s too young for the playground.

    At any rate, the whole idea of moving your kid higher “up the spectrum” is bizarre.
    I’ve read where parents have tried and probably succeeded at moving their child “down the spectrum” by not feeding him and depriving him of sleep before some kind of assessment where the parents wanted him to score badly and look really impaired to get more services ordered.

    I guess, overall, the goal of the podcast people is to keep the kid from acting like the normal social rules don’t count at all. The kid needs to be aware of what’s going on around him (in the eyes of the NTs) at all times… never mind what the NT’s are missing.

  2. Not 100% sure if this is a serious question or not, but I’m happy to make a fool of myself if it’s not serious and happy to attempt an answer if it is. :)

    The phrase “in his own world” is supposed to convey the idea that the individual has separated himself from reality. “Reality” being, of course, the physical world. It’s about separating from, being apart from.

    So, my understanding of its relationship to repetitive motions is that the movements are understood by non-autistic (and non-autistically-oriented) people to be more about separating oneself from the situation than (a) a tic; (b) sensory regulation; (c) anxiety reduction.

    It can be used as a term of endearment when describing a non-autistic person who daydreams a lot: “He’s in his own world again.”

    I think it goes along with the term “spaced out” – I get “spacey” sometimes, and it’s not really voluntary; I can’t always control when my brain is going to turn off my eyes, or make my facial expression go flat, or simply decide to think about something completely different from what’s actually going on around me. (That’s just part of ADHD, of course.)

    So, I don’t know if that makes things make any more sense.

    But for the bonus points, I would expect that if the repetitive motions really were about distancing oneself from the “real world”, then as one began to understand the “real world” better, the need to be distanced would lessen, so the repetitive motions would also decrease.

    Of course, that’s not what such things are actually about, so the phrase is being misused.

    It’s about psychologizing something that doesn’t generally have a psychological basis, and misattributing a behaviour to a non-correlated cause. (Sorry, that was fun. I like big words.) In normal words: It’s about making something physical into a psychological event, and it’s about making up a reason for a behaviour that “doesn’t make sense”.

  3. nt i guess.

    i don’t like that world ( ” ” i am typical )

    i hope this goes.

    i don’t know how to use blogs

    will someone be my friend ?

  4. Ya know, maybe a little–I hesitate to say–educational ad campaign might be in order. “Autism isn’t what you believe it is. Learn more.” The problem with that is (1) no money, and (2) if there was any the motives would be suspect. Maybe something very low rent, and it could be heavily qualified with something conspicuous along the lines of “paid for with donations from social-justice and liberty minded auties and neurotypical confederates.”

    I remember reading Time magazine in the early eighties where they were writing about autism and mothers with heavy hearts dejectedly wondering if they were even loved, and saying things like “he doesn’t like to be held and he seems more interested in the pattern on my shirt than he does in me.” That’s where that concept of being off in their own little worlds started to evolve. The jigsaw/mystery bit is a culmination of all of that. (Later on, I would read about developments in the “treatment” field in which people would get in someone’s face and scream “Stop stimming!”

    It’s fascinating that a large part of what occurs in a mortal world is so much confusion and misunderstanding about one another.

  5. Somehow, I get the “in own world” thing. It simple means to me when I’m in a bit of a catatonia/daydream or involved thought process / perseveration mode. Sometimes, I get “lost into a game”. These metaphors I finally got a handle on when I was about 17 because I heard them so much. I figure the analogy is that I’m not in the “environment around me” or “paying much attention to it”. That part for me is true. The entire analogy of being in one’s own world however could be a bit false in the way some others mean it. I honestly don’t know what *else* it could mean but then again, I’ve never understood other concepts thrown at me like “being sure of myself” or “happy go lucky” or other things I supposedly “need to be”. People assume “insecure” for example by my behavior and I have no clue why they mean that. Sometimes they want me to “relax” when I’m stimming. They don’t realize that to me, I am secure, relaxed, sure of myself (or what I’m thinking, very stubbornly even according to other people who figure it out) and often happy go lucky (generally euphoric when outside or playing with animals or into a game or good project). The judgements have actually sometimes put negative concepts into my mind that didn’t need to be there. The problem never was me but the person interpreting me. Some say that my parents “gave me a complex”. Alas, all this is junk from my past and I only relate it by way of expressing how I am relating to what you might be saying. It doesn’t have to be validated or anything (ugh, that word can be psychobabblish and so I apologize but I can’t think of another word here). Anyhow, I understand what I’m saying isn’t always what another means but it’s what I link up to when I hear it. This gestalt thinking (another one I think but it could have some truth to it), or rather, rambling from thought and metathought here gets me into trouble with losing my original thoughts. So back to what I was thinking, I’d like to conclude by saying that sometimes, the statements could have truth for some people and are not generally wrong or perhaps, the context they were used in had some analogy somewhere to it and so it can be related to by some autistics to be “in one’s own world”. It could mean something some how very different. My assumption here is that there are all these negative connotations with such phrases and that perhaps I don’t understand the depth of that and so I must be careful and perhaps go along with you in trying to defeat the inappropriate assumptions that every autistic is necessarily in an own world…often, it’s a deep focus on something outside the world or just as outside the world as anyone else’s “world”. It’s just that I don’t feel obliged to communicate it the way others do. But, I could be visualizing something else and not in outside world from time to time. People I guess do not understand this like I’d hoped and would rather be negative about us and assuming.

  6. I think I would understand it more if autistic people, at the times being told they were “in their own world,” were consistently daydreaming or in the “interior worlds” some people I know have described, and so forth.

    But usually they’re not, which leaves me at a loss for what the metaphor means.

    By the way, when “catatonic,” as in not moving, it can make me more aware of my surroundings than usual.

  7. Ah, I think I know what you mean. Most of the time for me, it’s been a kind of an altered focus visually but sometimes, that allows me to see in just about all directions but it often has a center focal point. Hard to explain the experience. I could explain it as relaxing magic eye state that allows for a deep state of a sleep like pattern in terms of breathing and relaxation, it has some of the hyperphrenic state turned down and I feel like I can access my subconscious mind better but still able to think at some level cerebrally like a dream but one that is more “reality” inclusive. It seems like it also allows for some of that “background” awareness too. My body won’t move either btw…it seems like a response sometimes to some stress but also just a regularly scheduled episode.

  8. Should add too….some have now told me that I do rock sometimes when I’m like this. I never knew I rocked. I’m not aware of it. It seems to match my heart rhythm. Sometimes, I think it’s being in tune with my body to the point my body is listening to my heart and moving to allow optimal flow. The relaxation I feel is sometimes very good even when I’m supposed to feel very stressed. I sometimes just go into this state. Some might call it “deer in the headlights” state…but it’s a very negative / assumptive description I think even if there is similar “appearance” or even if the state were the same as a deer’s might be. It is true thought that sometimes, excess light that I can’t escape from will trigger (?) or prompt me rather to do this. I sometimes do it consciously as a need.

  9. What I mean is, it’s not an altered state of consciousness of any kind, whatsoever, at all. It just frees up my processing from body awareness, to be able to process the rest of my environment. Meaning, my body isn’t doing any moving, because it’s being cut out of “things I have to process”.

  10. Wharever myself being a philosopher and all, I am inclined to dispute what goes on in the uninhabited forests, if you herd a tree fall I am not necessarily going to take it on evidence that it did fall either.

    What is a world anyway, even when reading the John the evangelist, he has more than one sence of the Greek word cosmos.

    I myself am in the world but not of it, there is the cosmopolitan sense of the world being the society, discours and exchange of humans and the world being a physical phenomenon of materiality.

    You can all have your worlds and keep them, colour them purple for all I care so long as you leave my trees alone. (some of them have metal leaves, we call them electricity pylons)

    No I want or don’t want need or don’t need discours, concours (elegance notwithstanding) procours antecourse anticours and causal confusion in the stadium of course perforce to remain rooted in my own interpretations of that which deigns to dare and sparingly desports in my perception peripherating in my ambience (call an ambulance)

    There you see if anyone can make the slightest sence out of that lot, you might have meat upon to debate a decade or two (an TS Eliot has kept them going for far longer than that)

  11. and back in other peoples somewhat more regular (but unregulated) worlds to address some of the points in the responses for fear that folk will feel I have lost all 29 of my marbles, and the thirtieth to boot which naughty anne probably stole to give to Elgin.

    Yes I was going to be sensible but I drift again.

    Rocking, well having a poor sence of balance I think that is vestibular in me, I can’t stand up straight for the life of me, being in dynamic motion preserves me upright

    Staring off beam, well I think the that even neurotypicals need to do this to actually concentrate, there was an article on the BBC website about children lerning better and paying more attention if they are not looking at the teacher.

    Imagination, I have loads of it, I create images and certainly used the ability to create images in my mind as a survival strategy when I was much much younger in the same way one might meditate upon a warm fire when one feels cold. Certainly I would have been characterised as being in a world of my own, basically because I did not communicate, did not share gazes and that sort of thing. I was quite aware of the external world, I liked the bits of it I liked, the trees, the natural things and did not like these children beings and teachers that got in the way. I am not actually any different now except that my world is a lot more accessible to “the” world in the same way that any artist, writer, film maker, has made there world available for others to gawk at.

    WEll you know what (now maybe you don’t) but what I use for words and mean by them is not going to be what you read into them, and never will be and vice versa, this whole notion of communication is essentially flawed, it is at best a compromise and inspired guesswork. But then I would say that as a post modernist, and there is nothing harder to define than that.

  12. I *hate* the whole ‘A world of their own’ thing and I am glad you challenged that pod cast. It is such an easy but meaningless throw away comment- I would accept that ‘to the untrained nt eye, it APPEARS sometimes that autistic children are in a world of their own’ to the untrained eye with no understanding of autism I think it could appear that way. I would accept that ‘because of the frequent misunderstandings and insistence that there is only one path to happiness (normalcy), many of autism WISH they could live in a world of their own’

    The irony to me is that some parents will see the intense focus of their child on something that interests them and interpret that as being detached and something to aba away. As a child that focus might be helping them make sense of the world and to stay calm amidst nt chaos…as an adult that intense focus might translate into a meaningful career. Yet with the ‘autism is a disease’ set nothing is noticed or accepted and everything is assumed and prejudged.

  13. I think I would understand it more if autistic people, at the times being told they were “in their own world,” were consistently daydreaming or in the “interior worlds” some people I know have described, and so forth.

    But usually they’re not, which leaves me at a loss for what the metaphor means.

    It’s the appearance that we’re dealing with here, as opposed to reality.

    People have difficulty understanding others’ behaviours from a viewpoint other than their own (poor Theory of Mind). So they extrapolate from, “if I were doing x, what would my mind be like?”

    And so there’s a poor metaphor out there, based on non-reality but describing an apparent state if you have poor Theory of Mind.

  14. Laurentius is an exception to the rule. He definitely lives in his own little world. or maybe it’s his own little forest. Sherwood or something. :-)

  15. NT here, attempting to deconstruct a metaphor.

    Every living thing on this planet lives in a world of its own in the sense that no two living creatures share exactly the same experiences or perceptions. If you and I are sitting right next to one another we will perceive the world around us in different ways — even if we are both NT or both autistic. We may be paying attention to the sounds, or the warmth of the sun, or the pretty girls, or the cars, or the lightswitches, or we can be totally absorbed in our own thoughts and have little awareness of the outside world at all. We aren’t literally in different worlds: we are sitting right next to one another. But there’s a sense where we *might as well be* in different worlds because the world as I perceive it with my body and history is different from the world as you percieve it with your body and history.

    This metaphor can be applied to all people and animals and other organisms.

    In practice, the metaphor tends to be used when the fact that we experience the world differently is obvious. For instance, when someone is so absorbed in playing an instrument that they aren’t seeing or thinking about things another person who is observing them would be aware of. Or more precisely, that they don’t *appear* to be thinking about them.

    There’s nothing pejorative about the expression and it can often express envy that the other person has access to something significant that the speaker doesn’t.

    On the other hand, if I perceive someone to be in their own world, meaning that I think the overlap between their world and my world is noticably smaller than usual, I might become anxious. I might worry that communication will be difficult, for example that the other person will express something that I won’t know how to interpret leaving me unsure of what to do. Or that the other person won’t communicate with me at all.

    Usually if the other person appears to be focussed on something conventionally understood to have the potential for a lot of content — a book or music for instance — little or no anxiety is provoked. We may not share their world but we have an understanding of what *kind* of world they are in. Also, we expect that at some later time the overlap will be bigger again and we can check in with eachother and compare notes. They will put their book down or stop playing their instrument and look around and we will both see the same (for instance) spider crawling on the windowsill. (And then we will verbally argue about whether the spider is a beautiful and useful creature or a vile infestation. It’s the same spider, but it might as well not be.)

    In the case where I am NT and you are autistic, my usual cues for determining the level of overlap between our worlds don’t work as well any more. If you are looking away from me, does that mean you are looking at something else? Are you examining me carefully with your peripheral vision? Or are you just not using your visual field right now? (This is one reason NTs usually spend a lot of energy signalling in different ways what exactly they are focussed on so that everyone will understand what they are about and can relax. They will direct their gaze, turn their body and talk or point. All at the same time.)

    If you are playing with blocks, is that just to occupy one part of your brain and keep it settled while another part is busy doing something else? (If so, what is that something else?) Or are you getting a depth and richness of input out of the blocks that fully engages you, the kind of input a musician might get from playing bass in a concert? (This would be very scary for an NT person because they can’t imagine getting that kind of input from blocks.)

    If you are rocking, the same confusion applies. I don’t rock, so I don’t understand why you rock. You are doing things for motivations that I don’t understand and getting input that I don’t understand. Meaning that the overlap between our worlds might be pretty small.

    The big question is, if our worlds don’t have a lot of overlap then how are we going to coordinate and cooperate? This is why NTs get so bothered when they think that someone is usually or always in a metaphorical world that has a small overlap with theirs, or if they have trouble figuring out how big the overlap is. We need eachother to survive and if we don’t share a basic understanding of what the world is and what the important parts of it are then we’re in trouble.

    Does this make any sense? Does it address your questions?

  16. My forest is the forest of Arden and recently I went to see the young trees that have been replanted to recreate that in a couple of hundred years time, I hope they will survive global warming, but then if we can have Californian Redwoods in Wales, I reckon so.

    Cosmotheka, Greek for the World is a stage, and who but melancholy Jaques, the fool in “as you like it” did say that, and where was the play set, in the Forest of Arden, and what was the name of Shakespeares mom, Mary Arden descended from the only Saxon Erl not to lose his titel, Turchill (or Thorkill they had no regular spelling then) of Arden.

    Yep I am into forests and trees, my mum is memorialised by trees.

  17. Well mesdame aux camellias (you think autists are not into opera well I might not be but that is not the point)

    I “facilitate” if that is the right word at all, and I don’t really reckon it is. a neurodiversity group and though attendences are not always large we have some interesting times. Diversity is the thing autism is not supposed to be the centre of it, the problem being to my mind that it is too autiecentric, however I had to say that I my ASD diagnosis does not trump my eccentric diagnosis and I guess SBC would not dare try and draw up an ECQ test cos how could he, I might dance naked with my hair on fire to get a decent score on that :)

  18. I get “lost in my own world” all the time. I focus on a train of ideas so intently that I lose awareness of the physical world around me. Sometimes a drastic trigger is required to jerk me make to awareness of the physical world–say, the realization that I’ve just dropped a cup of boiling water on my foot. Other times the train of ideas comes to an end of itself, and I slip back into physical-awareness mode.

    But when I get like that, I never stim. In fact, I stim at those times when I have to maintain the awareness of the physical world. I stim when I want to get lost in my own world but circumstances dictate otherwise.

    Which leads me to believe that what’s confusing you is simply another instance of NT mis-use of terminology.

  19. I wrote something about this a while ago in an essay I never published anywhere.

    People will decide that you’ve “retreated into your own world” based on very strange, flimsy pretexts– for us, it was playing and fantasy that everyone was concerned about. Every time we didn’t appear to be focusing on anything, it meant “she’s in her fantasy world again.” (They always say it in front of you like that, as if they’re expecting you not to hear it.)

    I’ve, in many cases, seen concern that a child is “withdrawing into his or her own world” coupled with concern over the child allegedly “indulging too much in fantasy,” whether that consists in having a complex “inner world,” playing imaginative games, reading fantasy novels, or any number of other things.

    For autistic children, it often puts them in a double-bind, as well, since “lack of imaginative play” is often claimed to be a hallmark of autism (I think it’s more often the case that people around the child simply can’t recognize what he or she is doing as play), but, at the same time, if the child gets very involved in imaginative games or fantasy, this also is interpreted as a symptom of pathology and something that they must be “pulled out of.” People often suggest drugging as a “fix,” to “pull them out of fantasy and into reality.” I was once shown a post on a mailing list in which a mother was upset over her autistic son reading fantasy novels and wanting to know if Thorazine would help to “bring him back into the real world.” We’ve known people whose families expressed grave concern about whether they could see physical objects in front of them (such as tables, chairs, houses, etc) because they were too “lost in fantasy” and “stared into space.”

  20. I think to simplify everything it could be said in ” to be in this world you must focus your entire attention on being like everyone else-acting like everyone else and making everyone else happy by what you do” If something you do bothers ANYONE therefore you have to stop it. So logically (to a NT’s mind) if you don’t CARE about this obsession to blend in with anyone else therefore you are in “your own world”. and HOW DARE YOU DO THAT ? After all you are showing that all the manipulation and control doesnt work in making you conform. So if YOU get away with not conforming why society will just fall apart. So I dont think its the “centering -relaxing-stimming” that bothers people. Its the “we can’t manipulate you into doing what we (NT’s) want to make US happy. Does that make sense ? And if autistic children have the power to do that what will happen when they become adults ? Oh horrors then NT’s will have to rethink their whole system of how they relate to people. Your “being nice” post goes into that.

  21. Some things that give Alex peace or excitement are only vaguely meaningful to me- if I line things up, I just feel a quiet small satisfaction- to Alex, the meaning is profound. I see it not as being in another world but seeing different facets of the same one.

  22. Although NT, I often “go into my own world” when writing, concentrating on reading, beading. Always have done. This has been a contentious issue with my parents and coworkers and friends.

    NTs often ascribe emotional valence/motivation to acts that are at odds with the actor’s own motivations. Perhaps this is the down side of the “theory of mind” NTs are rumored to have. One’s claimed insights into others’ reasoning permit rampant speculation on the emotions/desires/impulses driving one’s actions.

    With hindsight, I believe a complaint of “you’re off in your own world!” + paraverbal signals of anger = “You’re not paying attention to me.”

    My theory: neurotypicality or diversity is only relevant to parsing the meaning of the “in [my|her|your] own world” complaint. Fundamental signal is “I’m not getting the attention I want.”

  23. I tend to become so focused and that bothers my husband because he will claim that he was standing right next to me and talking to me and I will not have even seen him or heard what he was saying. Not confidence building for him I’m sure. I told him if it is important to make sure he really has my attention and not just assume (lol). But sometimes because of sensory issues I need to become totally relaxed and choose not respond until I feel like I have quieted down. I am not unaware though – it is more of a coping thing. I used to do some pretty “strange” things when I was a kid too – but I didn’t have a label of AS (wasn’t available when I was a kid) so I was just weird. Weird gives you alot more latitude though to possibly being very eccentric or creative. Once people get a certain label though than others put their notions onto each behavior. If they think negatively about a label then their attitude about the behaviors can reflect that. Being in your own world could be a good thing if someone was thought to be a genius.

  24. The moving ‘up’ the spectrum thing is just odd. There are people who consider Boy has moved up the spectrum because he’s made very good progress, but I just call that very good progress. He isnt less or more autistic than he used to be, he just has more years of experience, education and maturity to draw from. Of course he’s going to be more capable at eight than two…

    On the other hand I know Asperger’s autistics who seem to have far more issues with sensory sensitivities, for example, are they somehow more autistic than my ‘classic/’low functioning’/ Kanner/ insert label of choice’ diagnosed boy?

  25. LB—we sound like twins. I think I’ll have my husband read your post so he knows I’m not the only one who is like that, and he’s not the only one to suffer.

    Ballastexistenz once again uses divine logic. It took me a while to see the simplicity of , “Okay…what world are they in?”.

  26. all i know is, i can be a lot more disconnected from the stuff happening around me without doing anything that looks autistic. like just reading or drawing or being online or something.

  27. PS: Must be that they say you are lost in a world of your own becos THEY can’t find YOU, but they assume the reverse.
    I am pretty sure i have said this of autistic people before, back when i didn’t realize…

  28. Straightforward projection in my case, which I hadn’t really questioned until now. When I look like the autistic kids I see (in terms of odd movements, or lack of response etc) I’m daydreaming, and very much in the world inside my head. The identification is made, and so the assumption is also made. I wouldn’t make that assumption for stimming though – I’d probably be looking for what was exciting/upsetting the person then.

    We’re back again to ‘NTs are these weird people who are deluded enough to think they can mind-read’ aren’t we?

    Because of personal projection I also wouldn’t see it as a negative thing; I’m usually very content while daydreaming, and think daydreaming is very important (only way to stay sane in long meetings), so I’d see being off in your own world as positive.

  29. My mom would complain at me, “You’re always off in your own little world!”
    At which point I would wonder to myself, “Whom else’s world would I be in?” Duh!
    I think a lot of that whining on her part was her narcissism — I wasn’t paying attention to HER, or I wasn’t acting appropriately for her to show me off to others.

    Maybe NTs are actually a bit jealous of being able to focus and think so deeply about something, dunno. Frankly, the daydreaming & hyperfocus is something I would never want to lose. Therein is where I am able to corral the confetti of miscellaneous thoughts that otherwise swarm about me in the wind tunnel that is being involved in the everyday sensory world, and I can put those thoughts together into mosaics of new ideas.

    (I have no idea if I rock when I’m doing this.)

  30. I’m so happy to have found this blog :) (errr…. this is natureloverchris from ASA if you remember me)

    I can also actually be more aware when I appear “lost in my world”. It’s not a phrase I like. One of the replies said there’s nothing prejorative in the phrase, but I’ve certainly had it used as such.

    It’s odd, because I just came across a post in a different group that really annoyed me. The poster was talking about choosing her type of mental illness. “I would also like be autistic so I wouldn’t connect to people and their emotions and end up hurt, I would prefer to be in the closed world of an autistic.”

  31. On the topic of moving ‘up’ the spectrum, I think one of the best rebuttals I’ve seen to that whole concept is Zilari’s unsent letter to her psychiatrist.

    On the topic of being ‘in one’s own world’… yes, I can understand its use for when someone really is daydreaming or otherwise retreating into private thoughts, but you’re right, that seems to be a false assumption on the part of the NT writer in this particular case. I am quite well known for retreating into my own thoughts, but my behavior in that situation is notably different from what’s described in those quotes, and I’m generally quite calm; when I’m doing things like stimming, that’s usually because I’m trying to deal with the external world!

  32. This article cracked me right up. You have a great sense of humour.

    Ritualistic repetitive movements? Playing tennis, that’s repetitive, not to mention the audience members who rock side to side and turn their heads left, right, left, right. Members of the clergy performing the same ritualistic words and motions numerous times in one week. Nail biters, thumbsuckers, pencil chewers. You get the picture. We all do it.

    As for going into “your own world.” We all do that too if it means thinking our own thoughts while staring into space and not engaging others. I do it all the time. I was at a meeting with a fiend recently and she mentioned at the break that she got a bit bored and “went into her own thoughts.” Her words.

    Next time someone accuses you of being in your own world, tell them if they were not so effing boring you might be more willing ti listen to them.

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