Introversion VS. Autism: Know The Difference

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It’s very common for introverts to be diagnosed with autism at an old age. some people spend years thinking they are introverted only to find out that they have autism. But does that mean every introvert is an autistic person? Autism can have a lot of overlap with introversion, so it makes sense that people get confused. This is mainly because they share some common symptoms, such as social awkwardness and preferring to be alone. However, there are key differences between the two conditions that should be considered before diagnosing someone with autism or calling them an introvert. In this article, I will cover what separates an introvert from an autistic person for a better understanding. First, let’s get some simple definitions out of the way

What is introversion?

Introversion is defined as the state of or tendency toward being inward-looking or directed within.

  • Introverts are typically people who focus their attention on the internal world of thoughts and feelings rather than external stimuli.
  • Thus, introverts tend to seem quiet and shy at first.
  • They are more likely to focus on their own thoughts than seek attention from others.
  • They often prefer to be alone and think before they speak.
  • It is common knowledge that introverts recharge their batteries by spending time alone.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that affects how people perceive the world, other people, and themselves.

  • People who are autistic have trouble understanding what others are thinking or feeling. This causes difficulties in communicating with others.
  • They may have problems relating to other people, take things literally, have trouble with change, and have poor motor skills.
  • The disorder was previously split into different conditions but is now all grouped under ASD.
  • They include Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder.

Both introverts and autistic people deal with social awkwardness. But how do they differ?

6 Key Differences between introversion and autism

  1.  The level of self-awareness

The main difference between autism and introversion is in the level of self-awareness. People with autism aren’t able to understand what others are thinking. However, people who exhibit introverted behavior can sense when they may be annoying or not welcome. For instance, an introvert can read into a person’s body language so they know when to stop talking. An autistic person will just continue talking without realizing that the other person doesn’t want to talk anymore.

  1. Social skills

People who are introverted have no problem understanding social rules. They just tend to prefer to avoid social gatherings because they tend to lose their energy during these gatherings. On the other hand, autistic people often have trouble with social communication and don’t know how to behave in different situations. Thus they can often seem rude, insensitive, or ignorant of social rules.

  1. The need for routine

People with autism like to know what is going to happen in their day. They need to have a routine so they can predict the events that are coming up. This is similar to introverts, who like to know what they will be doing later on in the day. However, while introverts don’t like unexpected events, if an unexpected event happens they can quickly adapt. In contrast, people with autism get very anxious if there are unexpected events and become overwhelmed by their environment.

  1. Sensory sensitivity

Both introverts and autistic people can be sensitive to loud noises, touch, and taste. However, autistic people find it quite difficult to take their attention away from such stimuli. This can result in autistic people experiencing sensory overload and they can react quite aggressively. Introverts, however, can tune out these stimuli to recharge their energy either by going to a quiet place or by doing something they enjoy such as listening to music, watching TV, or reading.

  1. Moodiness

Introverts tend to be moody because of their internal state while people who are diagnosed with ASD get mood swings depending on their external circumstances. What I mean by this is that introverts react to their surroundings depending on their internal level of overwhelm while autistic people act according to the situation they’re put in, they’re not as much aware of their internal state as introverts.

6. Diagnosis

In the DSM-5 introversion is not considered a diagnosable mental disorder, while autism spectrum disorders are considered to have a range of signs and symptoms that can be diagnosable. While both introverts and autistic people experience social awkwardness, an important differentiator is that introversion is not a mental disorder while autism is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder (a subcategory of mental disorders)


Are introverts autistic?

Not all introverts are autistic, but many do have autistic traits. This is mainly because introversion is part of the autism spectrum since a large number of people who are diagnosed with autism prefer spending time alone in a quiet environment rather than going out and socializing.

Am I pretending to be autistic?

People tend to misdiagnose themselves when they struggle with socializing and they can often mistake it for autism when they may just be introverted which is a personality temperament and not a mental disorder. The best way to find out is to get a professional diagnosis from a therapist.

Can introversion be confused with autism?

Yes, but only if you don’t know how to distinguish between the two. Because the two overlap, it is possible for a person to misdiagnose themselves. However, there are some key differences between the two that might help you distinguish between them, I already listed some of the above.

Is Introversion a form of autism?

Extreme introversion may characterize autism spectrum disorder, but that does not mean that all introverts have autism. If you’re struggling with social anxiety and interpersonal relationships, it might be more beneficial to make an appointment with a therapist rather than concluding that you’re on the autism spectrum. You might just be introverted, which is not a mental disorder.


I hope you find this article helpful. I tried to shed light on the difference between introverts and autistic people. Introversion should not be mistaken for autism since they are different things that require a different approach. I hope the information presented was useful and that you learned something new today. If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with your friends and family and help them learn the difference between introverts and autistic people!

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Sarra is a behavioral science student and HS science teacher ( also a cat mom! ) who obsesses over typing people but can't seem to type her own self. Let's just say that for the time being, she's a cross between an INFJ and INFP!

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