Old people and autism

Getting older and learning about autism at the same time

When I started this blog it was about my hunt for diagnosis , trying to understand autism, and to provide information for other older adults all in one place regarding finding diagnosis, learning about autism, and all the adjustments, self understanding, and finding our way as we age.

When I first started this blog, there was very little “out there” on the internet about Old people finding out they are autistic so late in life.

There is still very little information about the ways we change, the ways we age, the things that are different about us from young people diagnosed as autistic earlier on. I see many blogs and articles right now about “late diagnosed autism” from those in their late teens through their 30s.

We go through so many changes as humans from infancy through our very last days on earth. None of us are the same as we were when we were 6 months, 6 years, 16, 26, 46, 66…. we continue to adapt and change. Finding we are autistic can give us so many insights into our past , our self image/self perception and self understanding, even at this very late age.

Recently I have been applying for work, trying to find a part time job that can help with expenses which keep going up and leaving our fixed income more and more inadequate to cover anticipated costs. So that is the background. Here is the point of my story.

As I put in applications and communicate with potential employers,( on line, on the phone, in person) I am bringing up the fact that I am autistic. ( Advice from some quarters says do not reveal diagnoses, struggles, or personal problems until after you are hired. Fake it. It just doesn’t seem right to me to do that. )

I have got some interesting responses.
Some simply stopped messaging or communicating.
“In person” responses include “I never would have guessed” and told me how well I communicated.

One person said “oh we can help you with that”. ??????? Next came an explanation about special needs training programs (ignoring the fact that not everybody can be trained over their neurological impairments /struggles back to my analogy about teaching a fish to climb a tree. Sometimes the things we have been given to work with will not work as intended for certain applications) I shuddered inside and thought about how often I would be written up after I had the training because I was outside the guidelines spelled out and trained up for) Simply telling me I need to do something to be more effective may not help me perform as expected. I know full well some things expected of me have been woefully above and beyond the performance I could provide, or that performing them took a huge mental and emotional toll.

I have explained to potential employers that I have learned how to look “normal” but tried to enlighten how difficult it is for me to maintain that performance when my visual and auditory processing is so slow and inadequate. I always fall hopelessly behind to my consternation, distress and anxiety and the employers or co workers disappointment and maybe anger. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I understand what is expected of me, sometimes I just can’t deliver. I want to avoid setting myself up for that sort of problem now I understand my autism and the reasons for so many failures of the past.

Of course that immediately makes me unqualified for certain jobs. I would be unqualified for a job as a rocket scientist, a ballet dancer, marketing pro, etc too, so that does not hurt my feelings, everybody has strengths and weaknesses.

The other day I was actually offered an alternative job than the one I interviewed for, more in keeping with my processing abilities . I am interested, after 50 years of applying for jobs and working them as neurotypical, whether I can get a job as openly autistic, and also whether my newfound insights into my self will help me negotiate the social hazards and avoid the eventual bullying and frustrated insulted aggravated and offended co workers I seem to garner in spite of my best intentions and trying to be a “team player” etc.

I have no way of learning if my old age is also a factor in my perhaps not being considered for work.
I know many individual are overlooked for both their late ages in spite of work experience and good work records, their appearances or other unverifiable judgements being factors in the hiring process.
I suspect that many employers when learning a potential employee is autistic will leap to judgement and avoid hiring simply because they “don’t want to deal with that” even if they would not have to contend with the imagined problems they conjure up when they hear the word “autism”.

I am very serious about finding a job , this is not a blog experiment or a way to explore social issues, it is desirable for me to find work and bring in income, but as in all my other experiences since learning of my autism, I report here because I have hope that others may gain some insights or self understanding in their own growth after learning of their autism as an elder.

Heading into the holiday season of 2022, late year best wishes, may next year be the best yet.

4 thoughts on “Old people and autism

  1. In my mid-50s, I recently was hired by a smaller company that provides counseling services and services for those with intellectual differences and autism. When I interviewed, I asked if anyone in the company was neurodiverse. My (then future) boss replied that there probably were a few and one person who had disclosed that she was. My question suggested to her that I might be neurodivergent, yet it wasn’t seen as a problem, and I was hired. Once I was hired, I decided to disclose, and it wasn’t a problem. I am thankful to have found a place that truly celebrates differences. I hope you find the same!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. this reply is for both Beth and Kathy, thanks so much for the compliments. I won’t charge for sharing information if I can avoid it. Anything I post here is available for quote or copy/paste as long as folks do not claim my words as their own. I spend hours every day searching for information on adult autism and so many studies and informative articles, even blogs are behind pay walls or dunning for “tips” or “buy me coffee”. I want folks to feel free to seek info here and to share it so that other older adults can discover their own autism diagnosis and the life changing perspective diagnosis can bring. Truly, finding out about my autism, even at this very late stage of my life has been one of the best things that ever happened to me. I appreciate your comments! Thank you! deb

        Liked by 1 person

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