Fear on the Spectrum




It has been noted that many on the autism spectrum, especially those at the higher end,  have at least one irrational fear. I’m certainly no exception. In fact, as a toddler, I was irrationally scared of many things, many of which would be considered very trivial by most adults and neurotypical people. To this day, I still harbor irrational fears, but not nearly as many as I did back then. Here are three things that I was and/or still am irrationally afraid of.

  1. Bad Weather-

Between around 2010 and 2013, I had quite a fear of bad weather. By that, I mean that even if the Weather Channel predicted thunderstorms for a day, I would become anxious, always fearing the worst. Even worse was when SEVERE weather was predicted. When that would happen, I would literally hide under the covers in a room with window shades (to block out the brightness of the lightning). On numerous occasions, my area even got tornado watches. Those were, by far, the worst of all. Despite having essentially surmounted this overall fear of bad weather, I still get uneasy at the sight of lightning.


2. Certain Places-

As a toddler, there were several places that made me feel very anxious. The most memorable of these places was the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians at the American Museum of Natural History, which was only a block from where I used to live. I distinctly remember fearing that room so much that I was actually pulling the doors shut and screaming for my babysitter NOT to make me go in there. Another place I dreaded was near a church by the intersection of West 82nd and Broadway. I don’t exactly remember why I found that location scary, but I just remember that I would always get really anxious when I knew I was near it (there was a produce stand nearby). A third place that I found incredible scary was a small Mexican restaurant called Señor Swanky’s. The reason I found it to be scary was because of the weird paintings of some guy on the exterior doors. There was something about it that I found to be incredibly off. I was so frightened by those paintings that my father insists that when I first saw it, I screamed so loudly that he and my mother thought that I had been stung by a bee or wasp (funny enough, I did actually scream that loudly after stepping on a wasp in Florida).

3. Certain characters-

In the more recent past, certain characters, whether they be from cartoons, live-action shows, or films, have always been EXTREMELY off-putting to me. Due to the recent nature of these aversions, I will not be sharing too much specific information about them, as said information is fairly personal. I will, however, say that most of the characters I have found off-putting in the past were from Anime. I most likely irrationally feared these characters due to their very unusually shaped and large eyes, which I often associated with bad emotions such as anger. Perhaps I just find the sight of emphasized eyes in general off-putting because it triggers slight sensory overload (not a pleasant feeling).

As it would turn out, many people on the autism spectrum, especially those on the higher end, have at least one irrational fear or another. So if you feel marginalized due to an irrational fear, you don’t need to feel alone.

John Wise