Autism and Daydreaming

Greetings Earthlings! 🙂

In today’s post, I’m going to discuss the subject of daydreaming (or as my sister likes to call it “staring into the abyss”) and autism.


*Cue six year old Aoife singing the Monkees ‘Daydream Believer‘ at the top of her lungs!*

Image result for daydream believer gif

All of us daydream at some point or other in our lives, but according to researchers, autists daydream differently to others. When we daydream during times of rest, certain regions of the brain (known collectively as the default mode network) are activated to help us reflect and process emotions. However in the autistic brain, it appears that activity in these daydreaming regions is dampened due to lower levels of brain connectivity. As daydreaming is an essential component for self reflection, researchers believe that autists struggle to create a “normal” internal picture of themselves and others which could be linked to social issues often experienced in autism.

On the other hand, autism and ADHD have also been linked to maladaptive daydreaming. First described in 2002, maladaptive daydreaming is a mental health issues where someone daydreams excessively, sometimes even for hours at a time. People who tend to daydream like this conjure extremely vivid and detailed daydreams, often developed as a coping mechanism or a form of escapism. There is limited research on this topic as the condition has not been officially recognized yet, but some estimate it to effect as many as 20% of those with ADHD which often overlaps with autism. It is thought to be a compulsive issue, which given the issues of impulsivity and autism could explain the link.

In my own life, I’m a terrible woman for daydreaming. My mind is constantly drifting in and out of focus to daydream about potential future scenarios or to create elaborate fantasies to escape from my problems (so many nights spent dreaming of Hogwarts as a child!). There were certainly periods during more turbulent times where one might consider my daydreaming to have been maladaptive. If I’m being honest though, I think I tend to daydream more out of boredom than anything else- I just fill my head with all these interesting scenarios to keep my brain stimulated when I’m not doing much else with my time 🤣

So who knows- maybe daydreaming is a spectrum within the spectrum! 🤷‍♂️

Hope you enjoyed this post dear Earthlings!

Have a lovely weekend! 🙂


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