There are some autistic traits that neurotypicals may exhibit, while there are others that neurotypicals will never have.

But just because neurotypicals may, under certain circumstances, display traits that are commonly and even universally seen in Autism Spectrum Disorder, doesn’t mean that “everyone’s a little autistic.”

No autistic person has every single ASD trait. Thus, do not assume that the term autism trait means a feature that exists in every autistic individual.

For example, not every Autistic has sound sensitivities, issues with food texture, clumsiness or feels overwhelmed in crowds.

Let’s begin with autism traits that neurotypicals may sometimes have, and following that will be autism traits that a neurotypical can never have.

Features of Autism that Can Be Found in Neurotypicals

Avoidance of Eye Contact

An NT may find eye contact uncomfortable under certain circumstances such as when feeling defeated in an argument or being bullied, being chewed out by their boss or feeling an attraction towards a person they’re partnered up with on the job.

Difficulties with eye contact are mostly found in the autistic population, though can also occur in those with ADHD.

However, some autistic people give good eye contact. I’m autistic and can win a staring contest.

I’ve been around many Autistics who yielded normal-looking eye contact while in conversation with me and others.


©Lorra Garrick

Stimming is short for self-stimulating behavior. It also refers to self-regulating or “repetitive” behaviors.

Suppose an NT is holding a lanyard with a whistle attached while he’s chatting or waiting somewhere.

At some point he may start twirling the thing around and around. This can be seen as brief, transient stimming.

I see NTs stimming all the time at the gym in between sets, including while they’re busy on their phone while resting before their next set of bench presses.

However, it’s almost always the same repetitive motion: a bouncing leg.

This is a very socially acceptable stim and is also seen in neurotypicals who are sitting in doctors’ offices or otherwise waiting somewhere.

The foot flap is also a stim found in NTs – either done by the foot that’s crossed over a leg or by a foot that’s on the floor – while the person thinks, reads, knits, texts or listens to music.

Rocking, pacing and various finger fiddling may be seen in NTs who are under duress, such as waiting in a doctor’s office for an exam; waiting for a job interview; wondering how to break terrible news to a loved-one or sitting through a court case, to name a few unnerving situations.

NTs may also stim under more favorable circumstances as a form of self-regulation, but it differs from classic autistic stimming in terms of how it’s being done, for how long and the frequency.

For example, a neurotypical may rock in a rocking chair while socializing or watching TV.

An autistic person may rock without a rocking chair – and nearly every time they’re seated — and for extended periods.

Stims for autistic people are significantly more varied and include chewing on collars, sleeves and “chewelry,” spinning, walking on their toes, hand flapping, finger flicking, licking their nails, pulling on a lip or skin, facial twitching, sniffing their hair, clapping, flipping any object they happen to be holding, tapping their face, rubbing their legs, tongue chewing, teeth clicking, swaying side to side – the list is endless, and these stims may be done for prolonged periods.

Encyclopedic Knowledge

Though some autistic people acquire encyclopedic knowledge of their “special interests” or hyperfixations, there are many NTs who have encyclopedic knowledge in their chosen career or hobby.

Unusual Voice


Many autistic people sound normal when they speak, but a peculiar pitch, tone, inflection or rhythm is far more likely to be found in autistic individuals than in neurotypicals.

Nevertheless, there are NTs who have an oddly distinct voice. I don’t mean an accent, but the timbre or pitch is noticeably unusual.

Unusual Gait 


Not everyone who walks oddly is autistic or disabled. We’ve all seen someone who seems pretty typical, save for their unusual way of walking.

It’s a stereotype that autistic people “walk funny.”

Autistic Traits that Neurotypicals Will NEVER Have

Deep Masking

No, this isn’t a facial mask you put on before sleep. Nor is it doubling up on a COVID-19 mask.

Masking is when an autistic person behaves in a way to pass as neurotypical.

However, there are times that NTs mask – acting in a way that doesn’t feel natural to them to impress someone else, such as during a big job interview or a dinner out with potential new business partners or clients.

The NT masks transiently and usually slightly, while many Autistics mask chronically and in all or nearly all interactions with people.

Furthermore, the autistic person’s masking is much further removed from their true self than is the NT’s masking.

To summarize, a neurotypical will never study and analyze others’ behavior to mimic it in an attempt to fit in.

For the Autistic, this can mean a change in vocal characteristics and a complete overhaul in body language, plus frequent attention to facial expression, when to give and break eye contact, hand gestures, etc.

Essentially, a heavily masking Autistic is in job interview mode all day long, every day.

The NT may view YouTube tutorials on how to act in a job interview, taking note of body language tricks that can impress the interviewer, but when the interview is over, so is the masking.

Many Autistics feel a need to deep mask on an extended, frequent basis.

An NT is not going to go full-out to copy the behavior of other people to fit in.

Note: Not all autistic people mask beyond just a mild level. I myself never masked enough to fit in. This is why classmates and coworkers always thought I was odd, different, rude, blunt or somehow off.

Difficulty Reading Social Cues


An NT may occasionally miss a social cue.

If they’re really uptight and have a lot of things weighing on them, they may miss a romantic overture.

But generally, NTs correctly detect – either consciously or subconsciously – all sorts of nonverbal communications including subtle, as well as accurately interpreting tones of voice.

Meltdowns from Changes in Routines or Sensory Overwhelm

Neurotypicals have meltdowns – but not due to an unexpected or unwanted change in routine or structure, or a sensory overwhelm.

The NT meltdown will likely be triggered by an acute traumatic experience, particularly one that’s preceded by a chain of recent unsettling events.

Road rage may seem like a meltdown, but it’s more like a temper tantrum resulting from not getting one’s way (think about it).

An NT might not welcome an unexpected change in plans, but will not sink into a meltdown.

An NT will also not experience sensory overwhelm in the presence of typical, day-to-day stimuli such as bright store lighting, crowds or a room full of loudly talking people, let alone lapse into a meltdown due to this exposure.

However, not all autistic people experience meltdowns.


In autistic people, shutdowns are usually brought on by a big change in plans or daily stressors that NTs are also subjected to.

A shutdown is when an autistic person literally shuts down, becomes non-operative and may be nonverbal — requiring days to come back up to the surface.

It is not known what percentage of autistic people experience shutdowns, but many Autistics do not have them.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical and fitness topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. In 2022 she received a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder.