What happens when older adults are diagnosed with autism? Are there supports or therapies
which can explain this surprising diagnosis and help us understand our new autistic selves?
How will life be different? What do we need to help ourselves transition to this new definition
Recent discussions in some forums I check out each morning have given some great insights
and not all of them are good.
On the question asking how knowing our autistic diagnosis has helped us, the great majority responded by saying it has not!
I must say this surprised me, considering how much better I feel I am doing now I know myself better and now I better understand my struggles.
For the majority giving answers, simply understanding how one struggles and why has not been enough. Those struggles still exist, even though they have been given a name (autism).
Most respondents said they needed more help. The great majority wished for available therapy to help them adjust to the new information and understand how to cope with the changes this brings.
Many said they could not break down the information of knowing their struggles to understand how to make adjustments and accommodations for themselves; they sought insights but struggled to find those new coping mechanisms on their own.
Many thought they could use another person to help in day- to-day functioning, actions requiring “executive functioning” struggles were the ones mostly named: household tasks such as cleaning and laundry, self care including bathing and other hygiene issues, food preparation and shopping, bill payments and financial struggles were all mentioned.
Finding affordable housing, and transportation issues were also discussed, as well as seeking persons to advocate for them in many transactions, medical, legal, etc. and for helping with filling forms, making applications, finding the services needed. Many services may be available, but finding out about them and applying for them seems insurmountable in difficulty. Even learning of local connections who might help is difficult at best.
Many wanted training in job skills, specialized education, and help finding jobs, perhaps getting accommodations for some sensory or other issues they were dealing with.
Some of these services can be provided through the state level insurance mandates in the United States that now say adult diagnosis and therapies/treatments must be covered (medicare too).
Others may be accessible without the word “autism” ever being raised. Locations where individual help is available vary considerably from place to place, so there is no general outline to tell us which steps to take to get what sort of help.
Getting ourselves connected to the networks used by other groups is complicated and for those who struggle with social issues, can be overwhelming/terrifying.
The forums I attend are international. In other countries there may be nothing at all to address autism . In some there may be agencies where one applies first. Here in the USA we ( autistic elders) are lost and on our own for the most part. Raising awareness is the first step.