Who Is A Sensitive Person [The Qualities Of A Sensitive
Keen Sense of Justice; Unable To Lie or Manipulate Environment
Highly Sensitive to Stress
View Novelty (& Change) As a Threat
Connect Passionately With Suffering 1000 Miles Away
Difficulty Forming Personal Connections
Don’t Do Well In Crowds
Innate Sense of Purpose and Mission
Concrete Thinkers
Cherish Natural Laws; Little Regard To Manmade Laws or Authority Figures
Original & Integrative Thinkers Who Develop an Individual View of the World
Fascinated With Extensions of Nature; Shun the Unnatural
May Over-Interpret Seemingly Unrelated Events
Profoundly Emotional (Looking To Replace Childhood Bonding Deficits)
Try To Be Individual and To Customize Their Life
Understand That There Are Multiple Versions of Normal
Try To Feel Equal to Everyone Else; Often Struggle With Self-Confidence
Very Subtle Male-Female Differences in Appearance and Content Alike
Less Obvious Sexual Dimorphism (Very Subtle Differences Between Males And Females In
Morphology And Physiology)
Make Good Fathers/Mothers [Good Providers] But Not As Attractive Or Exciting Mates
(Stick Around, Nurture, Stay In Relationship)
Monogamous Tendencies

And Here Is What Sensitive People Are Unfairly Accused Of:
Lacking Emotions
Lacking Empathy
Socially Clueless – Inconsiderate & Awkward
Love of Rules

By Comparison, Insensitives Are Commonly Characterized By:
Regularly Lies and Embellishes To Manipulate Environment to Own Advantage
Less Sensitive to Stress
View Novelty (& Change) As a Thrill
Cannot Care About Individuals beyond Immediate Environment
Forms Many Shallow or Short-Lived Connections Relatively Easily
Thrive In Crowds
Purpose, Mission, Process Are Frowned Upon And Ridiculed Concepts
Abstract Thinkers
Follow Manmade Laws and Authority Figures Impeccably Even Verbatim
Reductive Thinkers Who Thrive on Breaking down Entities to Explore the Components
Fascinated With the Unnatural
May Not See Danger Until After the Fact
Emotionally Crippled (Looking To Distance Themselves from All Emotional Situations)
Love Uniformity & Conformity
Have the Monopoly on Normal in Current Times
Mentally Convince Themselves of Their Own Superiority
Very Marked Male-Female Differences in Appearance and Content Alike
More Obvious Sexual Dimorphism (Accentuated Physical and Physiological Differences
between Males and Females)
Make Good Short-Term Mates [Attractive Traits] But Are Less Likely To Stick Around For
Long; Make For Not As Good Parents (More Likely To Leave Spouse and Children, Less
Nurturing, Inconsistent Often Absentee Providers)
Polygamous Tendencies

And Here Is What Insensitive People Are Unfairly Accused Of:
In Command of Emotions
Socially Adept – Considerate & Caring
Classic, Not Trendy
Disregard of Rules

There are many myths surrounding autistic and sensitive individuals. Unfortunately medical
professionals entrusted in the care of autistic children propagate some of these myths. Even
worse, some parents and autistic adults believe these myths due to lack of better sources of
information. MAINSTREAM society is mostly trying to prove that sensitivity is a disorder and
autism is a disease.

Myth 1: autistic people observe all rules to the degree of

Autistic people do not like rules, especially man-made rules. They keep following the rules as
long as they cannot understand them. Autistic people are typically overwhelmed by novelty.
When faced by a man made law, they tend to follow since they have difficulty understanding
the logic behind it. They try to comply with the rule until they are sufficiently familiar with it.
Once this is achieved, they promptly proceed to try to make the rule comply with the natural
laws. If it cannot comply, they promptly proceed to change it, bend, stretch it whatever it
takes to get the man made law to comply with natural laws.

Myth 2: autistic people lack emotion:

Autistic people are balls of emotion, but only someone in touch with their emotions can
observe that. Autistic people have so many emotions, that they often have to withdraw in
order to process their emotions and sort them out. A “blunted affect” as the medical
profession calls it is in fact one of an overwhelmed person who is too confused and conflicted
about his emotions to display any particular one. Once autistic people are present in a safe
loving environment, they display a full range of emotions and they gradually learn to display
the appropriate emotion for each situation. The display may seem awkward or unorthodox for
most insensitive people. Emotions displayed facially or verbally by an autistic person are so
original and non-stereotyped, that most insensitives may not be able to recognize them or even
worse mistake them for hostility or discontent.  

Myth 3: autistic people lack empathy [cannot put themselves in
someone else’s shoes]:

Autistic people lose sleep over an anonymous person rendered homeless by a hurricane.
Autistic people cry uncontrollably over a tribe gone hungry due to drought somewhere at the
ends of the earth. We have great empathy for suffering far detached, but cannot get ourselves
to tune in to the agony of the person sitting next to us; close personal encounters are too
emotionally troubling and overwhelming to sensitive people. Many develop avoidance of
interacting with an immediate tragedy as a protective mechanism meant to prevent sensory
overload and consequently feeling overwhelmed and miserable.

Everyone can relate to a time in their life when they were pushed to an edge that prevented
them from seeing the other person’s point of view. Most people can relate to a moment when
a strong belief or extreme frustration prevented them from relating to a person standing right
next to them. Well, sensitive people, whenever outside their familiar environment, may feel
that for no other reason. Alternatively, since sensitive people are highly sensitive to criticism,
they might fail to appreciate other people’s feeling when they are feeling hurt themselves. For
example one of the main reasons sensitive people fail to pass job interviews is that while sitting
in a completely novel room with a bunch of strangers, they feel overwhelmed. When asked to
put themselves in a hypothetical situation and try to resolve a problem they fail to do so. This
does not mean they cannot do it. It only means they cannot do it while overstimulated. When
they go back home they can do it, no problem.

Another scenario for perceived lack of empathy is inability to detach which leads to
withdrawal. Most highly sensitive persons can be overwhelmed when dealing with others
especially when dealing with someone talking about their misfortunes. Sensitive people are
profoundly affected by other people's problems and they ironically look like they don't care. In
fact, they care so much that they feel the hurt and burden of the other person to the extent
that it overwhelms them. That forces them to withdraw. Detaching is a struggle to achieve in
the life of a sensitive person.

Myth 4: autistic people are inferior humans:

In fact, this is completely false. Most sensitive people I have met in my life become aware of
their intellectual abilities at some point in their life. When they reach this point, they look
around them and quite often they are intellectually superior to the average insensitive person.
They might be too honest to hide it sometimes, but more often they do not perceive
themselves as superior due to their low self-esteem. The truth is, most sensitive people strive
to look upon themselves as equal to everyone else and often do not get there due to their social
inhibitions. Many never realize the importance of their intellectual contributions.

Myth 5: autistic people are boring:

The core reason why the insensitive majority perceives sensitive people as boring is that when
they speak they seem interested in speaking about one, often very serious, and not necessarily
pleasant topic. Most are generally interested in very few areas, and specifically in areas related
to their own lives. Additionally, in social situations, when a sensitive person is overwhelmed
and overstimulated, she may be the slowest to follow and contribute to a conversation. It
becomes very difficult to keep up with the conversation regardless of the topic. This is part of
a learned coping technique that many sensitives use; completely tuning out the environment in
order to limit the stimulation.

We are commonly accused of acting superior to or intolerant of neurotypicals. This is just
how sensitive people appear when they are intruded upon socially. They tend to put on a face
that looks superior, when in fact all the face is saying, give me my personal space, I am

Myth 6: autistic people lack imagination:

Autistic people lack neurotypical people’s common imagination. That by no means implies we
have no imagination. Our imagination is more concrete consisting of extensions of reality. This
is completely different from a neurotypical person's more abstract, often unnatural imagination.

For example, a neurotypical kid may imagine a fantasy world with aliens and animals that do
not look like anything they have ever seen and environments that may never exist in reality. On
the other hand, a sensitive child may imagine a more concrete world, consisting of regular
people doing commonly observed things, yet trying to change the current reality in the process.

Myth 7: autistic people are not social beings:

For a bunch of people who are happiest when they are absolutely alone, collecting phone
numbers of twenty acquaintances is the last thing on their mind. Most sensitive adults are
happiest when alone. Being social like a neurotypical is, in the sense of having many
acquaintances with whom one shares very little for the purpose of social functions is not so
appealing to sensitives. When we meet someone we are looking for deep and broad
relationship and only that. We are looking for someone who can challenge us and someone we
can challenge. Unfortunately for most insensitives this comes out as offensive or unpleasant
behavior and they tend to feel repelled, or shy away from the challenge.

Most sensitive people enjoy and thrive on functions where they are or can be the center of
attention; these functions are mission-like where personal/social aspects are minimized in favor
of common goals like business, politics, and scientific conferences…

Myth 8: autism is a “disorder:, mainly of boys:

Autism is not a “disorder” of boys. Autism is a human personality characterized by innate
sensitivity and high reactivity to stress. Building on what we have learned earlier that maternal
care, its good and its bad, is transmitted from one generation to the next. It seems to me that
girls are socially expected to be a little sensitive and little shy. Low self-esteem coupled with
the sensitive persona is good old common sense that has been taught for literally thousands of
generations by women to their daughters. In fact, these properties being attractive to the
generic insensitive male have contributed to preservation of the species through thin and thick.
Even today, a shy girl who likes to spend a lot of time in her room, does not bring boys home
at age 15, and remains a virgin until college is considered an ideal daughter. The parents would
be talking up her wonderful self-discipline and raising her will be a breeze. No one will take
this girl to a pediatrician for an autistic “diagnosis”. On the other hand, a sensitive boy who
needs plenty of hugs growing up, and who cannot excel in any sport and who seems
withdrawn and never beats any other kids up is a leper who certainly needs “treatment”
because “there is something wrong with this boy”.

Some scientists believe that girls, on average, grow up to develop an advantage in verbal skills
and mental and physical dexterity over boys. While it is not known if this is universal and
whether this is innate or acquired it seems to be common in our society today. This advantage
in language and dexterity may help in part mask the discovery of the autistic personality in
more girls than boys. And therefore, we are missing this personality in many girls who have it
and who need the same delicate attention that autistic boys need. However they may not get
this attention because their brand of autism stays under covers until the girl is on her own for
the first time. By then it might be too late to offer much of the help available to children.

It has been my experience that girls navigate socially being highly sensitive a little better than
boys. With girls many of the signature personality traits are kept well below the surface in
public and are only evident in extreme situations or in intimate relationships. Besides some girls
seem to show the classic signs of sensitivity only at a later age than boys. My theory is that
the consistent teaching throughout the generations of girls to behave in certain ways, has
made girls more comfortable with being sensitive that they are able to hide [or subconsciously
ignore] a lot of it. This is only at the surface and in fact it is hurting many girls growing up. If
no one knows these girls are sensitive then they will be treated and raised without regard to
their core personality. Attention is typically denied these girls and they grow up with emotional
deficiencies and more importantly often unaware of the most defining factor of their life, their
essential personality.

During adulthood:

Although having a sensitive daughter can be very convenient and easy for parents, once the
girl grows up and has to live on her own, she is hit several folds higher than a boy since she
had not had time to come to terms with her sensitivity and she has to learn about it from other
adults who may not be at all nice about it. In fact the confusion about her identity can linger
on for years into adulthood and can be emotionally crippling. According to Eric erikson,
children who are protected growing up and do not face their essential personality through
interaction with other kids, might not develop the proper identity at puberty and that may lead
to difficulty forming lasting relationships, let alone getting married, finding a life partner or
forming a family. Worth mentioning is the multiplied pain one has to go through as an adult to
re-learn skills they missed learning as children, as for a sensitive girl, who takes pride in her
mystery, that could be heart breaking. Besides, many will shy away completely from
socializing or seeking partners and end up sinking into irreversible oblivion especially once
their mothers leave this realm. Always a dangerous time for these girls is at life junctures,
leaving home to college, graduating from college, and more importantly once everyone they
know is already married or engaged to be married. It is at these junctions that decompensation
becomes apparent and misery surfaces.

Try for goodness sake to distinguish between the insensitive girl who in learning to take on a
sensitive persona because she is picking it up from older women in her life and between the
sensitive girl who seems to have these properties no matter what. You can save your daughter’
s life.

A living tribute to Mia Hamm:

Mia Hamm may be one of the rare exceptions in recent memory. Signs of her sensitivity were
apparent early on but her family did not seem to make the connection. When her parents
adopted a boy several years older than her, the little girl found an instant ally. She could go out
and play with her older brother and his friends. These kids were considerably older than her
so she was given a break and treated sympathetically. Besides, her brother was always there
to protect her. She chose that as opposed to playing with kids her age who would be a lot
more judgmental and would take her to task on every move or indiscretion. As we discuss
earlier in the book, a child’s affinity to older kids or to adults is a sign of escaping the daunting
task of holding their own among their peers. This should have been an immediate sign of a
need for delicate treatment by the parents in order to help her adapt to dealing with kids her
age. This would have been very important to help her develop her self-confidence and
independence. Problems she admittedly still is working on today as an adult. Instead the
parents were happy that she has found a calling, something that occupies her and helps her get
over her shyness. As well intentioned as that was, knowing what we know today it was not
correct, but parents can only know what society offers them at the time. They had no way of
knowing any better like most other parents.

Mia did get away with it in the sense that she grew up to be a successful person whose name
is household name all over the world. Given her achievements, she had the best social support
network anyone can ever dream of. She still suffered so much at a very young age as an
adult. She by her admission suffered constantly and grappled constantly with changes
happening in her life. In addition, to self confidence and independence issues, she was
constantly conflicted about fame, and struggled in developing mechanisms to deal with loss,
on and off the field. On the field she was a slave driver, asking excellence from all her
colleagues even during an off-season practice session. This usually results from having an
infinite passion toward one area in life, as many sensitive people have.

Having said all this, I am as countless people in society grateful to have a Mia Hamm in our
generation as an inspiration for kids growing up and especially for girls getting their long
denied opportunity in sports. If Mia Hamm cannot take care of herself, she has generated so
much goodwill, that the rest of the world will take care of her. However, what about all the
other anonymous sensitive girls who did not have the outlet of befriending older kids or who
kept it all inside and just lived their childhood in a room? What about the ones who thought
they found this outlet only to find themselves getting abused and assaulted by vicious older
people? What about many anonymous proud girls who cannot express their true emotions at
an early age and end up treated like a less sensitive kid, while they need a whole different
paradigm of treatment applicable only to sensitive kids?


Autistic people have their brand for a sense of humor based in the natural or supernatural.
Autistic people are more concrete in their imagination and from that come a sense of humor
built on exaggeration or extension of reality. Insensitive people have a strong tendency toward
the unnatural driven by their brand of abstract imagination. They typically make arbitrary
connections not necessarily based in the realm of logic or physical possibilities.

For example, a dummy that can turn its head 360 degrees represents the type of humor
insensitive people appreciate. Jim Carrey contorting his body unnaturally is another example.
These things can be scary or at least unsettling to a sensitive person. Another type of humor
insensitive people appreciate while sensitive people cannot relate is humor based on social code
and etiquette. Many sensitive people take this type of humor seriously, not recognizing the
relationship between the presented behavior and the “socially idolized” behavior. I have no
examples to give on this one! Well, Seinfeld is supposed to be a prototypical example although
it was watered down so much.

On the other hand language based sarcasm (e.g. George Carlin, Lewis black) and imitations in
addition to physical humor (fumbling well-recognized activities; close calls) are appealing to
sensitive people. Autistic people both react well to and excel in these types of humor.
Insensitive people frequently find sarcasm offensive and often pitiful due to their social
predispositions. Sarcasm to sensitive people does not mean that we have given up on society.
Rather it often means that there is so much to change in society and therefore does not
warrant any pity or pets on the back.  

This is an excerpt of the book Psyche-Smart Autism TM available on amazon and other book
Copyright 2010 Rami J Serhan, MD
Author: Rami Serhan, MD
Medical consultant
Sovereign Research
(206) 659-1ASD (273)
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