By the time I suspected myself to be on the spectrum, I was turning 29 and about to get married. I also had (and still have) a stable career.This is a long entry but please make it to the end when I tell you how I coped.What traits did I display?Social awkwardnessI had difficulty fitting in as an adolescent. I couldn’t understand subtle non verbal cues. I kept very much to myself. In middle school- I just went for classes, studied, and came home. Did not mix around.In high school, we more or less had to mix. There were many class and school events and I struggled very hard to fit in.In high school people would also gossip about how this person did something objectionable, or talk about subtle interpersonal politics. A single word, a slight change in tone of voice, a simple gesture could all mean significant things to these other people. I couldn’t get it, for the life of me. I do now.Very rigid adherence to schedules and habitsAs mentioned, I’d go to school and come home. I’d spend my time doing homework or kicking a small ball around my living room. I never thought of breaking that schedule, go hang out with friends etc.Once in college, my friends wanted to go eat dinner after watching a movie. I told them I had to go home and run because that was scheduled. I remember sounding very intense as I said that, and they looked a little unnerved. I think they thought I was weird. (Luckily some of us still keep in touch)Extreme sensitivity to noiseI’m quite ashamed to say I fly into a rage whenever there is significant noise distraction. I couldn’t work in the hospital wards because my phone would keep ringing and that disrupted the tempo of my work. I’d pick up the phone and be nasty to nurses on the other end. Paediatrics posting was a nightmare. I couldn’t work with all these kids screaming. Post night shift, and I’d doze off in the cab, the sound of children crying ringing in my ears.I was absolutely murdered during my first Accident and Emergency posting because I couldn’t handle the multitasking, and verbal instructions flying from left, right, centre.Once I was filling in a death cert at 5am in the morning and the nurses had turned on the radio very loud. I had to tell them to switch it off. I opted for a career in the ambulatory healthcare setting. It’s a more quiet and organised environment. People go to your office instead of you running about. I adapt much, much better in that setting.Narrow interestsI like classical music and some rock music. I was resistant to listening to pop songs during my teenage years and obviously that compounded my social isolation.I did not like computer games like Counterstrike, L4D or DOTA, All my life I’ve only played two computer games repeatedly- Football manager and Age of Empires.I have a profound interest in history, more specifically Chinese and Roman history. I read a lot of Tolkien and was once also into Middle Earth history. Obviously these interests do not help you in a normal social setting. When people ask me about my hobbies, I just say I run.Stereotypical body movements and other quirksMy wife say when I’m angry I make a certain turning movement with my trunk, and I clear my throat loudly.I talk to myself a lot.As a child if I touched something with my left hand, I HAD to touch it with my right hand, in the exact same way, with the exact same force. My mother noticed this in both myself and my father.Also during childhood, I had to smell everything. That kinda freaked my classmates out.I do not display the latter two traits now.ClumsinessI am bloody clumsy. Full stop. My wife gets exasperated when I make a mess in the kitchen or dining room, though I never intended so. I make a poor chef’s assistant and sometimes she has to tell me to leave!What exactly did I experience?Profound isolationI just felt very lonely throughout adolescent years. These feelings still plague me occasionally in adulthood. Although I couldn’t put it in words, I had that perception that no one could understand or relate to me.How did I cope?My family or I never realised I had a problem big enough to seek a therapist. They may have noted some unusual, behaviour, but no official help was sought.I learnt social skillsFortunately, I have average to above average intelligence, so I used it to acquire social skills. Being thrown into the rough and tumble of high school, medical school, the army, the healthcare system- it makes you man up. I learnt the importance of non verbal cues. I learnt that not ALL details need to be accounted for when explaining something. From my wife, I learnt how to respond to the needs of another individual.I have definitely learnt to be professional when dealing with colleagues. And to read between the lines when finding out what exactly they want or need.I learnt how to speak to patients in a more engaging way.These are elementary to neurotypicals, I know. For me, these skills I’ve learnt do NOT remain instinctive. They are coping mechanisms I have acquired cognitively, the same way you learn biology or astronomy.However I still remain very sensitive to noise.I learnt to break my habitsWhen you follow a routine, you fall into a rut. Sometimes, I’d force myself to go to another restaurant, or watch another movie. Or vary my workout routine. In the past, all I’d do was to jog, jog, jog. Now I have taken on high intensity interval training (HIIT) and weights training.I’ve learnt how to use credit cards, without chalking up any debt of course.I get along fine with my current colleagues, much better than I did with my peers many years ago. I’d spot a group of friends and join in a conversation. I’d go for lunch with colleagues whenever the time affords it. These are things I’d never imagine myself doing 10 years ago.In retrospect, I probably had only a mild form of autism, seeing that I developed adequate coping mechanisms without seeing any therapist. I think life would be much tougher for those with a more severe form, or with intellectual disability.