Man with a beard and angry face had rammed his head through a wall

50 Reasons why an Autistic Adult may be in a Bad Mood7 min read

1. Maybe they’re too hot. They may not be dressed appro­pri­ately for the weather, to be honest. I struggle with this, having my favourite jeans that I’ll wear without thinking during a heat­wave, and spend all day grumpy as a sad badger. 

2. Maybe they’re too cold. Heavy woolly jumpers can be anathema to autistic people, as can any rough mate­rial. Some of us hate wearing coats. We may need looking after with this, espe­cially if we like the cold — we may not notice it’s now too cold!

3. Maybe they really need a haircut. Autistic people may avoid these dev­ilish tor­ture cham­bers from Satan’s bottom, but we really also need our hair not winding us up con­stantly. Help us find a nice salon with ide­ally quiet staff.

4. Maybe they need to shower. Often show­ering can be a sen­sory night­mare, or if not, just over­looked as a waste of prime interest time! But having a layer of dirt & grime can feel awful, too, so this is worth con­sid­ering. Be sen­si­tive, too, for good­ness sake. 

5. Maybe they need to wear their sun­glasses. The feeling of glasses, perched like an unwel­come pigeon on the bridge of my nose makes me want to scream, so I avoid sun­glasses, but some­times I admit I could do with them, when­ever bright­ness is worse than nose-feel. 

6. Maybe they have ill-fitting clothes on. This can be mas­sive for me, as it doesn’t reg­ister apart from very slowly, throughout the day, as my rage builds because my trousers are too tight. Favourite clothes can shrink, we can put weight on, this hap­pens easily. 

7. Perhaps they are over stim­u­lated by stuff– still hap­pens to autistic adults who may not notice until it’s too late. This is a par­tic­ular problem away from home when fewer recharge oppor­tu­ni­ties are avail­able. We need quiet spaces in towns nation­wide! 

8. Maybe they need the loo. Seriously, it’s not just kids. I can sud­denly realise I need to go do my grim busi­ness with a kind of shock of awak­ening, espe­cially if engrossed in some­thing cool. But it’ll make me irri­table. 

9. Perhaps there’s a really nasty smell around. This can cause mas­sive prob­lems, espe­cially if the smell is not easily iden­ti­fied and sorted out. God, I’ve had dreadful weeks thanks to a hidden, subtle smell I couldn’t remedy before. Nightmarish. 

10. Maybe they’re embar­rassed from a recent autistic act or trait dis­play that they’re ashamed of for some reason. You may not even have noticed, but they know what hap­pened. This, I think, is quite common.

11. Perhaps they were right in the middle of thinking about some­thing nice and interest-based, and you inter­rupted them with some request. This may seem dis­pro­por­tionate, but it can be very annoying. Sorry. 

12. Perhaps they had nearly made a deci­sion and were inter­rupted by someone asking what they had decided. Patience is an absolute neces­sity when dealing with autistic people.

13. Perhaps they’ve had too little time with their favourite inter­ests. This is extremely common in adult­hood, as respon­si­bility increases and time seems to vanish. This can lead to burnout, I believe. 

14. Perhaps their favourite interest has sud­denly suf­fered some set­back. Like a new video game has been delayed, or worse is updating and unplayable… Best avoid your autistic person if this is the case!

15. Maybe they need to make a phone call or knock on some­one’s door. This can totally ruin my *week* if I’m not careful. 

16. Maybe they found out some mas­sive news that they’re strug­gling to make sense of, even to the point of not being able to explain it to anyone. This can create real iso­la­tion. 

17. Maybe they’ve found out some small news that they’re strug­gling to make sense of, even to the point where they can’t explain it to anyone else. 

18. Maybe they’ve just remem­bered a really sad thing they saw once. This is a thing, right? Like, I get flashes of a little cat I saw on hol­iday once, and it always kills my mood. 

19. Maybe they are feeling a cer­tain emo­tion, and they’re aware you and others feel dif­fer­ently. This can be dis­con­certing and upset­ting, again cre­ating iso­la­tion. 

Common at emo­tional moments like funerals, wed­dings, births, foot­ball matches.…

20. Maybe they found some­thing really funny but no one else did. Or vice versa. Again, this can feel dreadful, as it high­lights your dif­fer­ence, so an autistic adult may be a bit shaken or upset by this. Especially if they thought some­thing was really funny.

21. Maybe a cat or dog has recently rejected them. I’m deadly bloody serious, people

22. Maybe it’s too noisy wher­ever you are. Your autistic person may be extremely irri­table or even angry, seem­ingly at nothing at all, if this is the case.

23. Maybe they really need to do this par­tic­ular thing right now and you’re not let­ting them– because, to be fair, you don’t know… but arhggghhh, this thing needs to be done right now stop making me not do the thing!

24. Maybe they need to be alone right now. They may not realise this for them­selves, which can make things dif­fi­cult.

25. Halfway there — phew. 

26. Maybe they have tooth‑, stomach‑, head‑, ear‑, muscle-ache but haven’t realised it and thus haven’t taken any painkillers. This hap­pens a lot. 

27. Maybe they have lost a bit of con­trol over their finances and are scared or very wor­ried. 

28. Maybe they’ve gotten them­selves into debt or some­thing, almost by acci­dent. This hap­pened to me years ago as I assumed it’d be easy to pay back. Some autistic people can be quite *ahem* bad at money. Others can be really anx­ious with any uncer­tainty or loose ends, even if they are great with money.

29. Maybe they had to make a snap deci­sion ear­lier, and they’re still grap­pling with the ram­i­fi­ca­tions. This might weigh on their mind for ages. 

30. Perhaps they’re exhausted but com­pletely unaware of this fact, as they may feel ener­gised by their hyper­fix­a­tion. This can be a recipe for misery very fre­quently. I’ve had nights playing GTA: San Andreas at uni until 5am without real­ising how knack­ered I was. 

31. Perhaps they’re not sleeping very well. It can be very common for autistic adults to have var­ious sleeping issues.

32. For autistic people who men­struate, hor­mones and periods can be par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult, espe­cially if their sen­sory issues are wors­ened or stress levels are raised. 

33. Maybe a plan has sud­denly changed and there’s no time to re-evaluate or pre­pare. This is bad for autistic chil­dren and autistic adults pretty much equally. Trouble is, neu­rotyp­ical adults are often fine with changing plans at the drop of a hat.

34. Maybe they’re strug­gling to get them­selves under­stood. If they’re speaking, this might be because they can’t find the words or clarity; if they’re non-speaking or non-verbal, it may be because their means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is lim­ited, and they’re unable to get across their thoughts. 

35. Maybe they’re masking twice, three times. They could be des­perate to com­mu­ni­cate that they’re non­bi­nary, trans, gay, asexual, demi… but far too scared to say any­thing. 

36. They may, how­ever, just need a bag of crisps or an apple as there’s every chance they will have for­gotten to eat. Or drink. 

37. It’s pos­sible they may be nursing some injury or ill­ness that they haven’t com­mu­ni­cated to you, thinking it’s nothing, or that it’ll sort itself out. So maybe they’re expe­ri­encing con­sid­er­able pain or dis­com­fort. 

38. They may have been mocked or bul­lied by someone. The bul­lying of autistic adults is pretty wide­spread and is a huge problem. Autistic people can react in a self destruc­tive way to this, as it dam­ages their already prob­ably shaky self-esteem.

39. They may be replaying a con­ver­sa­tion they had ear­lier in their head, ter­ri­fied that some­thing went wrong that they hadn’t realised at the time, wor­ried they’ve put their foot in their mouth– or worse. 

40. They might be in burnout. 

41. They might be lonely but not realise it, assuming they don’t need human con­tact when actu­ally they do. 

42. They may be really upset about things hap­pening in the wider world, espe­cially in the cur­rent polit­ical cli­mate. 

43. They may have realised that some­thing they were plan­ning intri­cately in their heads won’t work for some reason and are frus­trated. This is often related to hyper­fix­a­tion. 

44. They may have eaten too much and are feeling dreadful– I can’t be the only autistic person who strug­gles to reg­u­late por­tion sizes. This is due to poor inte­ro­cep­tion.

45. Maybe there’s an earth­quake or tor­nado coming– autistic people can detect such things, like horses. 

(This one’s a joke, sorry. I just can’t help myself.)

46. Perhaps they need to listen to some music. Music can be very soothing but it seems autistic people, even those who love music, some­times forget it’s a thing.

47. Perhaps they promised some­thing they couldn’t quite deliver as they tend to over­es­ti­mate their energy levels and now feel silly or inad­e­quate…?

48. Maybe they were qui­etly looking for­ward to some­thing; but, now that it’s here, they are over­whelmed by a com­bi­na­tion of fear it won’t be as good as they hoped and panic that some­thing could go wrong. I hate this feeling. 

49. They might have recently had someone touch them. For many autistic adults, most touch will prob­ably be unwanted, espe­cially from strangers or mere acquain­tances. Shaking hands, that kiss-kiss thing posh folk do– all a bit much. 

50. Maybe they mis­un­der­stood some­thing you said and are upset, even though no harm was meant. 

Pete Wharmby

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  1. Every one. Still dis­tressed over that time two years ago when my friend’s dog gave me the cold shoulder.

    1. Sometimes dogs get over­whelmed or don’t feel very social, just like people. It’s pos­sible that you did not do any­thing wrong.

  2. Absolutely.
    Here’s a hint I learned from my autistic nephew — wear your undies inside out! Then the seams won’t irri­tate! Wear your socks inside out too.
    If you are like me, avoid any­thing poly­ester like the plague.

  3. Maybe people kept asking over and over “what’s wrong” because they assume you are upset of angry even if you are not, to the point that they really piss you off! Well, facial expres­sions and moods are a match now. Mission accom­plished!

  4. “Maybe they’re masking twice, three times. They could be des­perate to com­mu­ni­cate that they’re non­bi­nary, trans, gay, asexual, demi… but far too scared to say any­thing.” As with every­thing you write, this is so incred­ibly per­cep­tive.

  5. Please add bisexual to #35 (we freq get left out :/)

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