Professional FAQ Series: Highly Sensitive People, Female Aspergers, Referred Emotion and the Superpower 6th Sense gift

Professional FAQ Series: High Sensitivity, Female Aspergers, Referred Emotion and the Superpower 6th Sense gift

My writings are based on my clinical work with now over 1,000 individuals of all ages, all diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (and some with co-existing conditions). I work full-time with individuals of all ages with Asperger Syndrome or Autism. I have supported hundreds of females with diagnoses of Asperger Syndrome. I also blog, write article and am now writing a book series. I am also in my Doctoral Studies program, specializing in female Asperger Syndrome.

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FAQ: My daughter was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome three years ago. Since very early on in her life, she has regularly told me things she couldn’t possibly know. She seems to just “know” things all the time. It’s spooky and I worry about her.

FAQ: I am a self-diagnosed Aspie and have known for a long time that I cannot cope being around people. I just get so emotional and at times, even break down crying. I broke down walking past an obese man the other day. I don’t know what it wrong with me.

FAQ: I am a diagnosed Aspie who has been told I “care too much” about the world. I can’t even watch the news anymore, without going into a meltdown over the latest war, injustice, or crime. How is it that others just don’t seem to care or that it doesn’t affect them like it does me?

I have interviewed hundreds of girls, teens and women with Asperger Syndrome who have talked to me about high sensitivity, referred emotion, a “sixth” sense, knowing things without knowing how they know them, “feeling” presences, knowing when people are lying (through their feelings), and much more. It appears that females with Asperger Syndrome have a unique way, or “channel”, of accessing information about others or about events, or another way of “reading” people. Many females I have seen have expressed difficulties reading people in the usual way, that is through reading others non-verbal communication (facial expressions, hand and body movements). However, all have discussed their unique abilities to accurately sense what they cannot easily explain.

When should you consider that you may have Superpower 6th Sense?

In interviews I have listened to females, who are extraordinarily sensitive to the pain and feelings of others, so much so, that they are unable to watch the news, read the paper, listen to the radio or watch horror or violent movies. They have discussed being able to feel other people’s feelings and being able to tell or feel when people are lying to them, even though they were given no indication through body language evidence, but had later on found out through physical evidence. They have described their sensitivity as akin to a “fragile flower with a gentle breeze blowing them right over”. They describe being in continual emotional pain in the presence of other people. Many females have discussed “feeling” the emotional atmosphere of the room, “feeling” someone’s anger (although the person said they were not angry, did not look angry, but were actually angry on the inside) or “feeling” someone’s sadness as they passed by the person on the street. They have also discussed experiencing referred emotion or others thoughts (picking up stuff from other people or being “invaded” by other people’s thought’s). Many of the females I have worked with have told me they have been told by others that they “care too much”, are “”too sensitive””, are “highly sensitive”, and/or “need to stop caring” or “harden up”.

Some females have discussed knowing about future events happening before they happened, experiencing “precognitive dreams”, experiencing extrasensory perceptions and describing their experiences as seeing pictures in their head of what they are supposed to know (a “knowing” of a future event, the location of an item or a person, where a person is).

Many females have discussed realizing that they need to limit the time that they spend around people or avoid social situations because they are overwhelmed by others moods, feelings, emotions and/or the emotional atmosphere or because they simply just “know” too much about the people they are around, even though these people are strangers to them. Some of them have discussed how they have immensely benefited from a medication to “take the edge” off their emotional sensitivities, learned how to harnass and utilize their extra-sensory abilities (including learning to differentiate between the emotions of themselves and those of others, how to shield and protect themselves, among other techniques), and what to do when they pick-up on or feel the pain of people or animals in their environment. There exists females with Asperger Syndrome who are professional psychics and/or mediums.

The Superpower of referred emotion, ESP, the “6th Sense” is a gift. In my experience, females with Aspergers tend to have this gift to a greater degree than others. This is not to say that males with Aspergers or people without Aspergers do not also have this gift. However, my research is on females with Asperger and so I write with this focus in mind.

Females with Aspergers are often much more aware of the emotional atmosphere that others miss. Many clients have discussed with me about their experiences in group, family, or conference settings, where they can “see” right through a person (their intuition tells them to be careful) whilst everyone else appears to really like them. Neurotypicals pay much more attention to other people’s words, non-verbal body language, actions, facial expressions, whereas Aspiens use a different sensing channel that tells them important information about a person. Learning to trust the “gut”, “ïnstinct”, “ïntuition”, “6th sense”, is crucial to overcoming naivety that tends to comes with being an Aspien, so that the individual is not taken advantage of.

Helpful Tips:
1. Knowledge and awareness. Believe your traits are real. Learn all you can about highly sensitive people, “empaths” and/or “ïntuitives”. Accept that you have this gift.
2. Learn about emotions. What are your emotions? What are degrees of delight and distress? What are other people’s emotions? How do you know what emotions are yours and what emotions belong to others?
3. Journal regularly. This will enable you to get to know yourself and provide a greater knowledge of what is yours and what is NOT your “stuff”
4. Learn to self-regulate your emotions
5. Learn shielding techniques, so that you do not ‘soak up’ others pain and emotions like a sponge.
6. Learn to separate your pain and emotions from those of other people, animals, nature.
7. Learn to trust and listen to your feelings, your vibes, your intuition. They are your guide in life.
8. Learn to embrace this gift, utilize it and trust it.
9. Take solitude (meditation, alone time)
10. Get enough rest and/or sleep.
11. Take one day off per week
12. Cut down on the stimulation (TV, radio, newspapers, advertisements)
13. Learn to say Say NO
14. Be preventative. Take breaks often. Eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty.
15. Learn about your gifts, strengths, assets and utilize them.
16. Reframe your life based on your high sensitivity, your Aspergers, your whatever. This will take time for you to do.
17. Work on healing your childhood, your upbringing, your sensitivities.
18. Meet and be friends with other highly sensitive people.
19. Embrace your spirituality, whatever that is.
20. Use your sense of justice in a healthy and empowering way.

Helpful Resources:
1. Aron, Elaine. The Highly Sensitive Person, http://www.hsperson.com/
2. Bogdashina, Olga, Autism and the Edges of the Known World
Sensitivities, Language and Constructed Reality. (2010). Jessica Kingsley Publishers

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CAVEAT: Generally speaking, my doctoral research is in the area of females. Having said that, males do experience these issues. However, I am writing about my specialization.

Tania Marshall©. 2013. Professional Q and A Series I. All rights reserved. Duplication in whole or part is explicitly forbidden. Thank you.

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21 thoughts on “Professional FAQ Series: Highly Sensitive People, Female Aspergers, Referred Emotion and the Superpower 6th Sense gift

  1. Wow…….I never knew why I ‘cared too much’ about the misfortune of others……I get so upset that I make myself ill sometimes. I can’t recall how many relationships have ended after an argument because I have a ‘feeling’ something is wrong. I can often pick up micro vibes from people I don’t even know and it makes me very uncomfortable. I often get upset about all the bad stuff that’s going on in the world and lose the ability to focus on my own little life because I don’t understand how humans can be so awful at times. I always knew I was different and never knew why, I have looked into the female aspie traits and I’m pretty confident I have Aspergers and am awaiting an assessment via my GP however this article is bang on and brings to light a huge problem for people that suffer with being highly sensitive of others emotions as its not something that is being discussed by many professionals. I felt that I was the only one that felt ‘bombarded’ by peoples emotions every time I leave the house lol. Tania your work and research will surely change the way females are viewed and understand themselves is the most positive way. xxxxxx

  2. In some ways I probably seem like a ‘typical’ male-type Aspie, rather than the sensitive female type, in that I seem very unemotional and uninterested in people and their feelings or problems. But I think actually that is a coping mechanism I’ve developed. When it comes to the people (and animals) I do care about, I actually feel physical pain when they are hurt or upset. Once when my husband had a knee injury, I developed ‘phantom’ knee pain myself so bad I could barely walk across the room. It was so ridiculous we were laughing, but it was absolutely real. I also physically feel other people’s emotions like sadness, fear, embarrassment, anger etc.

    So I think I’ve had to choose to be ‘unemotional’ and ‘unable to empathize’ when it comes to anyone other than the people closest to me, because otherwise I’d just be unable to function in life.

  3. I am diagnosed this is me to a point,i dont watch the news read papers etc i feel very deeply,to much sometimes,its like an emotional magnet. Also if a friend/family is upset,sad etc i instantly feel that emotion as tania as said above i feel so bad for them I also seem to know who is genuine and who is not,i am not sure how to explain it,its just a feeling i get
    contact is painful emotionally and physically,i am limited to few people who i am in contact with on a daily basis.

  4. I am a 44 year-old Aspie and this describes me perfectly. It also describes my mom and both great grandmothers on Mom’s side of the family. I’ve always been hypersensitive to high emotion and haven’t had television in 15 years because most of what’s on TV is too painful for me. I get migraine headaches after every social event I attend, even when I’ve had a good time. About ten years ago, my mother became physically ill and was hospitalized after reading a short account of a Holocaust experience in a book. No physical illness could be found, it was all “psychological”. All Aspie. Both Mom and I have had numerous precognitions, visions, and mystical experiences. It is comforting to know we aren’t alone in these experiences.

  5. My family has a history of precognitive dreams, so I thought it was just that. I started noticing that I “couldn’t handle” watching or reading the news, sad movies, or horror movies. I only recently became aware that I’m an Aspie, and now I’m fascinated. I’d be very interested in developing my dreams, but I can’t find anything on it regarding Aspies. My biggest issue is I know I’ve dreamed, but I can’t remember it (whoopie, short term memory!)

  6. I don’t believe in a “sixth sense.” I do believe that one can have too much empathy, no idea what to do with it and can feel overwhelmed by the emotions coming off of others.

    • @Victoria – There are many more than six senses; it has been discovered that humans may have up to 20 senses. We have been conditioned to believe the idea that “extra” sensory perception is bad or evil, and that is why many people are afraid of the “sixth sense” label. If you are empathic to the point of accurately feeling other people’s emotions, you have a “sixth sense”, whether you believe in it or not. (And, this is one of my “Aspie” traits, telling people things that will make them angry. Oh well. I still feel like I need to tell you this.)

  7. This is very accurate for me, except that I learned very young to turn off my emotion completely to avoid mutism when overcome with emotion. I have only recently learned maintain my own emotional state even when faced with the emotions of others. It is a precarious balance. Thanks for posting.

  8. There’s nothing mysterious or magical in here. Dreams show what’s happening in our subconscious. They display what we picked up with our senses but what didn’t reach the conscious.
    About emotional overload… It may be not being able to understand the situation fully, not being able to recognize your emotions and therefore feeling confused and frustrated. It may be because of sensory overload. Too much sound, smell, trying to process the person’s words, body language, trying to make sense of everything and therefore feeling anxious because you have information overload. Your brain is not capable of dealing with everything and you need to step back.
    Another problem is taking things too seriously and with too much depth. The way to protect yourself from too much empathy is through changing the way you think about things. Thoughts create emotions. You have the power to change how you react to things. Of course, it will take time to re-write automatic responses that were practiced for years and years but with consistent practice it can be changed.

  9. Okay Tania – you scary woman. You haven’t even met me and everything I’ve read of yours so far would suggest you’ve known me since I was little………..eeeek! =)

  10. Hello.
    I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s and relate to the majority of traits mentioned on this blog, except the part addressed here. I’ve always found it very difficult to relate to others and feel any sort of empathy. On one hand, it makes me feel emotionally deficient, isolated and undeserving of others’ concern because I’m unable to return it. On the other, I’m intimidated by overwhelming feelings and vulnerability, and feel more secure in a rather controlled aloof state of mind. I may, however, project strongly on fictional characters and sometimes animals, and experience profound emotions in other ways. On very rare occasions I’ll meet a person who may “be worthy” of my affection, and in these cases be prone to overwhelming emotions and crying, to the point where I have trouble functioning in daily life, which can definitely be unpleasant. Is this a coping mechanism or alternative manifestation that you’ve documented in your patients, or is it less common for female aspies to behave this way?
    Thank you very much for this lovely and informative blog!

    • Hello Mia and thank-you for your message. I have met women are have an ability to turn off/switch off their emotions. They have learnt this as a coping mechanism how to do this. I have met women who have a very “tough” exterior, almost too tough. I hope that helps and take care.

  11. I don’t think I am an aspie at all, I have a son who is though, but I get these senses going in the workplace and in general life. I feel the malice in the air when someone is hateful and being sneaky behind closed doors toward me. I even have had a warning sign the night before that something bad is going to happen the next day, it feels like something heavy in my chest that comes with a heavy anxiety too. Sure enough the next day something happens. I have learnt to know this feeling as an omen.
    I can sense things about a person when they are telling me one thing and I know for sure it is lies as a voice in my head says “they are lieing”.
    I can sense intent too.

  12. I must say just came out with it a few weeks ago. I have known somethings but try to brush them off. Like sometimes I wish I did not know that he was laying. I always try to think it was me being jealous or something, but always find out. Walking in to a place like a hospital where someone is going to die and the emotions….I get so taken into the emotions that I just drown it out with music. I know it sounds silly, but honestly I don’t have anyone to talk to about this without looking at me like I’m crazy. I feel so tired sometimes at the end of the day…emotionally!

  13. We believe myself and my teenage daughter have Aspergers but we keep getting told we don’t have it because we can express emotion. When are these therapists going to stop reading books that are 20 yrs old and written about men with Aspergers? How does a mother and teenage daughter Aspies survive the teenage years? We have tried several therapists but none understand that we see and feel the world differently then others. I also have this crazy ability to sense what others don’t want to admit to others and themselves. It’s hard to have a conversation with someone without sensing their “hidden” feelings”. Sometimes I think I am crazy for thinking these things but with close friends, over time, they almost always come back and say they were afraid to admit that I was right about something I said. Maybe the world thinks we’re defective because we can see behind the mask they want others to see.

    • Amy, you’re so right. I think that people are threatened by those who can see behind and beyond the mask. And I also think that people with Aspergers are unfairly projected upon.

      There was a TV programme in the UK recently about Autism and in particular the work of one highly regarded cognitive psychologist called Uta Frith. She basically stated that autistic people lacked empathy and couldn’t relate to others’ feelings because they couldn’t read social cues. She also stated that autistic people were more likely to be self absorbed.

      As an empath and a woman with Aspergers, I was highly offended by those comments, because I feel that they’re not true. I’ve met plenty of self absorbed people and they’ve mostly been neurotypicals (NTs), not those who are autistic or have Aspergers.

      As for lacking empathy, my problem is that I’ve had too much and can sense things without people saying anything. I don’t read social cues well when I’m in the midst of a group because I’m overwhelmed by everyone else’s hidden feelings and energies. But when I’m outside of that environment and looking on then I can read those cues and do so better than NTs.

      In “Introvert Power” by Laurie Helgoe she describes an experiment with introverts and extroverts which shows the above.

      Another good book is: “Quiet” by Susan Cain about introversion. She provides historical context about how introversion as a trait was highly valued in late 19th century U.S., but with the industrial revolution and the need to sell yourself to strangers-where personality becomes more important than characterr- then extroversion becomes more valued.

      What I’m saying is that people with Autism, Aspergers have always been here, but in modern industrialised societies, their traits aren’t always valued and in the case of sixth sensory perception, are viewed as quite threatening, hence the need to see people on the autistic spectrum as defective.

  14. Pingback: Empathy | Walking Inland

  15. I’m a male who suspects I’m an aspie. From everything I’ve read, I think I present more like a female with aspies. I think I’m extremely close to my feminine side for a straight male. I tend to have problems interacting socially, but I’ve learned to hide it, whereas people won’t think I’m autistic, but just “weird”. Sometimes i find myself crying and I don’t know why. Usually people thing is because of something that just happened, but I have a hard time explaining is something deeper than that. I often feel presences as well. I’m trying to find someone to check and see if I’ll get the actual diagnosis, but this really helps. Thank you.

  16. I’ve often intuited that people with Aspergers, far from
    being cold and unemotional, are using it as a coping mechanism to cope with being extremely sensitive and easily overwhelmed. I’m now in my late 40s and have just realised that I have ASD. It’s harder to detect in women because women are taught to be more social and connective and to please others. Whereas men don’t have that social pressure.

    But I realised that I was often seen as in control. one friend said that I was “self contained”. I had to because I would’ve been overwhelmed by her constant whingeing energy vampirism.

    But it was my way of coping and still is to a degree. I can feel others’ energy and hidden feelings. And it goes even further. If I’m feeling ungrounded and overly sensitive and I have contact with people, including family members, they act really strange around me. Hard to explain, but they can become quite manic, or harsh and cruel, or just lose the plot. A reiki healer once collapsed as she started working on me. I was ultra sensitized that day. My mother collapsed due to my out of control energy.

    Now I just feel like I want to live off grid, or at least as a hermit. When I feel good in myself, people are conspicuous by their absence.

    Still it’s reassuring to read that everything I’ve felt instinctively re: Aspergers generally and especially in women.

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