whats the difference.....my dad the other day asked me if i was on the autism spectrum, i didnt know.....i know i have bad social anxiety buut autism, whats the difference?
Autism is on a spectrum, hence the name "autism spectrum disorder". There are mild cases, and severe cases. I don't think you're a low-functioning autist, because if that was the case you (and everyone else) would know. Typically, autistic individuals have a very poor grasp of social skills and have difficulty understanding subtle cues when interacting with others. It's also difficult for many people on the spectrum to feel empathy towards others (although there are many who are very empathetic!). People w autism also tend to be fixated on one or several hobbies or interests, as opposed to being interested in a wide spectrum of things. Again, these are generalizations; everyone on the spectrum is different.
Social anxiety on the other hand is simply described as a fear or aversion of social interactions. This usually stems from a fear of rejection from others. People with severe social anxiety usually depend extremely on being liked, accepted, and approved by others for their self-esteem. Because of their low self-confidence, people with SA often have difficulty initiating social interactions. This could range from: approaching a potential employer at a networking event, making cold calls, asking someone out romantically, asking a friend (or potential friend) to hang out, starting a conversation with a coworker or classmate, giving a presentation at work or school, and so on. Like with autism, social anxiety is also on a spectrum. Everyone feels SA to some degree, but if your SA is so severe that it interferes with your well-being or even living your day to day life, then we call that social anxiety disorder. Me personally, my SA is moderate, and I've missed out on a lot of opportunities because of that, but it's not so terrible that I cannot leave the house. (There are those in Asian countries called 'hikikomori' who are unfortunately in such a situation. They also tend to be quite depressed, which further damages their situation.)
Many people with autism tend to have social anxiety, likely because it was hard for them to feel accepted by their peers in childhood. Kids can be quite judgemental, and often don't really understand autism (or ADHD), which makes it hard for children on the spectrum to make friends. However, it's quite possible for an autistic person to not have SA, and it's certainly possible that a person with moderate-to-severe SA does not have autism. Ultimately, you'll have to talk to a doctor if you're looking to get properly screened, though many doctors are reluctant to diagnose adults with autism. I think it's because "autistic behavior" is less noticeable in adults than in children, but I'm not sure of the exact reason.
I actually took a test for autism called RAADS that my doctor gave me. I scored above the threshold for "autism", though not by much. Despite this, my doctor didn't want to diagnose me with ASD, and basically told me to take the results with a grain of salt.