Short term memory

poor memory or sensory processing struggles?

Maybe these are the same thing?
All my life I have been accused of not paying attention, of not listening when I was spoken to, of not trying, of not caring to try. All of my life I thought I was just lazy and careless. I was told this from an early age by adults surrounding me, my parents and other family members, teachers, employers.
I was used to exasperated sighs, eye rolls, frustrated lectures and threats telling me to “shape up”, “try harder”, “pay attention”, “or else”. Sometimes “or else” was punishment, failing grades, dismissal from a job.
I cared desperately, I wanted to please and I struggled to pay attention, to try hard, to listen carefully, to do better, to do more, and in many ways I failed.

I took the labels to heart.
I was simply not meeting expectations, I was not doing well, I was supposed to do better, and in all those things according to the folks around me, I failed.

Imagine my surprise when my neurology was tested at age 68. I learned my sensory processing was not “normal”. I had very little ability to understand spoken words or to understand visual input such as demonstrations, videos, movies, tv, live conversations, or anything in motion, in “real time”.

In talking with several people online lately, they have told me how they struggle with poor memory. They have been told they have almost no memory, yet these are autistic people who communicate very well using printed words and who have great language skills, large vocabularies, and who can discuss all manner of issues in depth.
I have been thinking that they have been told they have poor memories because they were tested using one of the standard psychological tests in which the test administrator gives a series of words and asks to have them repeated by the subject, who is then told to remember those series because they will be asked about them later.
Later in the verbal tests, the test administrator then asks the subject to repeat the series of words given them. Transition from one test series to another is unexpected and performance is wanted immediately without hesitation.
I always fail those tests. They require me to process audio and visual input and retain it using only my ability (or lack thereof) with those two senses. And my ability to find and store information recieved through sight or hearing is very very poor.

Somewhere along the line I was lucky enough to learn that if I wrote down anything I wanted to remember, or if I read something, I had almost total recall.
Once I was old enough to be assigned reading classwork, I was able to keep up with class and to out perform almost all other class members where assigned reading was required.

Now I know why this is so. My neurology will not process spoken or visual experiences well. But my ability to understand the written word is unimpaired. If you have been told that you have a poor memory, try this. Write down anything you want to remember. If you can recall it later, then maybe you do not have a poor memory after all, you may have struggles with neurological processing of information you receive through audio or visual means.
Not all of us are lucky enough to have the gift of words. Some of us have other neurological processing issues making it a struggle to read or write, etc. I get it.
Keep looking for different ways to do the tasks required of you. Using only one sense or ability in one way might be almost impossible, but by changing modes of input and self expression, you might uncover a whole new way of doing things.
I learned through trial and error long before I learned of my autism that reading and writing were what I understood best. Until my autism diagnosis and neurological testing, I did not understand why that was so.

I hope I have perhaps opened insights into the many ways we can approach any given struggle in our lives. There is no one set way of accomplishing a task or a project, there are multiple ways that could be used to reach a goal. If one way is blocked due to our neurological setup, other ways can be looked for and new ways may be found. I wish my parents and teachers, employers and co- workers had understood this earlier in my life. I wish I had known. It might not be too late for you to apply these ideas to your own life or that of somebody you know, who struggles.

You are not the same

Addressing a common misconception about “functioning levels”

I visit many autism related group pages and read blogs, participate in forums, seek studies and information in many ways. I found this blog link here: https://neuroclastic.com/2020/11/06/myth-if-you-can-use-social-media-you-are-high-functioning-or-have-mild-autism/ addresses something I have been trying to say and explain very well.

One of the main diagnostic features of autism is our extreme profile of strengths and weaknesses in our neurological functioning. We have certain areas where we are able to perform the way an average (Neurotypical) person would, sometimes we function on an extremely higher or lower level than “average”, and the huge difference in the way we function in every day life is that we work in peaks and valleys continually because our ability to function varies so deeply from function to function, time to time, day to day, moment to moment. Our neurology is not reliable and consistent.

I have been working on a blog idea trying to explain this in regard to tests I have recently participated in. In 3 of the 4 test forms, the persons doing the tests wanted to set up “face time” for interviews and assessments using video live streaming and conferencing programs. Two of them explained to me that as part of their study I would answer a battery of questions and the group of people would watch and record manner of speech, vocal tones and nuances, body motions, expressions, etc etc. I tried to explain to them that I would be happy to answer questions in an email, but that due to my neurological processing I was not able to be effective in ‘real time’ conversations, discussions, etc. Oh, sorry then, you can’t be in our study.

OK, but I tried to explain that they were missing input from the people whose struggles their study was allegedly set up to help/ understand/ analyze. I tried to explain the extreme discomfort such interviews would have for most autistic people, how being expected to answer questions, knowing we were being closely examined by many people, and attempting to understand what was wanted, attempting to explain what they wanted to know, and trying to perform under the immediate pressure of questioning and being the center of focus in a group online would be avoided by the very group they were setting out to study.

I expect their study will not garner very many participants and that very many conclusions regarding the nature of autism in adults will be drawn using very few subjects who are able to participate in these sessions.

I see once again the huge flaws in most of the information we will get from these ‘studies’ because those setting up the studies to begin with are not inclusive, and have built in barriers to autistic participation in studies of this sort by not allowing for accommodating the very neurological struggles they claim to want to help.

Please read all of the comments on the link I posted earlier in this article. It illustrates the huge variety of ways in which we struggle as well as explaining that yes, we do function very well in certain areas of our lives, but that using those gifts to meet “normal” expectations takes a huge amount of energy and self will to perform.

What you see on the surface and make assumptions about regarding our ability to function is most generally not what lies beneath and surrounding the appearance of ability to deal with other aspects of our lives. So eloquent. Read those comments and understand that autism is not what you think it is, and I am not who you assume I must be.
I am much more like the autistic person in your life than it seems on the surface. “functioning level” labels is a fallacy, a myth, and impossible to use to describe any autistic person’s struggles.

Undiagnosed Autism

and social struggles




go together. There are over 5 million adults in the USA today with autism (age 18 to 100).

Two tenths of one percent of adults in the USA are homeless. ( Gov’t statistics)
Some studies ( or ask a social worker in the field of homelessness) suggest the actual number is much higher.

Long term unemployment in the USA is around 1 percent.

9.3 percent of the population has a problem with substance abuse.

Studies link autism to a high ( up to 36 percent) percentage of autistic people within the socially struggling groups listed above).

Statistics in studies show that autistic people are more frequently victims of crimes.

Autistic people can be prone to trauma/cptsd/ptsd because of sensory differences and struggles to understand many social interactions or situations.

Admissions to hospitals for suicidal behavior/thoughts/ treatment have been documented to be so frequently related to autism that many hospitals now make mandatory testing for autism part of the initial admission procedure for this struggle.

Studies of autistic people related to health and longevity show greater risk for multiple health problems and shorter life expectancy.

To learn of our autism diagnosis is to open new opportunities for self understanding, self compassion, and self care.

Diagnosis provides insights that allow us to use new tools for self care and healing, both emotionally and physically.

Many autistic people struggle with missed or misdirected diagnosis, frequently reporting having multiple diagnoses which had been treated sometimes for years and don’t respond in the expected manner to psychological treatment, therapy, or drugs. When autism is discovered, many of the old diagnoses are no longer explanatory of the struggles the person experiences, autism fits the criteria better. (not always, it is very common to have multiple diagnoses and still be autistic) .

Knowing we are autistic allows us to get help for our struggles in a constructive manner with our self understanding and accommodations for our neurological struggles.

If you are struggling with social problems in any of these ways, or perhaps in multiple ways,
please check out the possibility that autism might be the answer you have been looking for.

New tool I can use

what I learned while rock hunting


I have written about how useful it has been for me to use the internet to find connections with like minds. I joined a local forum group of rock hunters a few years ago, and have developed internet relationships with some of the members. Some of us like to find the same things, some of us like to research and share info, others seem more interested in other stuff. With a forum having thousands of members, there is a lot to sort.

I have discussed how as a branch-off from the internet group, local people gathered to follow our interests at local sites to hunt rocks, to share specimens, to explore our interest and activity together. I found others who wanted to skip the formal gatherings of large groups for meet and greet/dining etc… and just wanted a couple of buddies to look for similar kinds of rocks together.
Eventually it has filtered down to just a few local folks with similar interests and none of us drive more than a couple of hours to spend time together. Usually.

I have interacted with a teacher online for several months now and have admired his curiosity, his genuine interest in people, his desire to find certain specimens for his collections, his generosity in sharing with others, etc. He contacted me over one of my rock finds and said he was coming from several hours away to hunt for the same rocks. I expressed interest in meeting him to help him find what he was looking for.

This is the background story. Here is what he taught me, and I think it is valuable. I had not thought this out for myself, being autistic I sometimes need to have things explained to me which seem obvious to others. My internal thought and idea processing is not ‘standard equipment’ but relatively unique. I digress.

As we looked for rocks we talked, and he ( a teacher by trade) talked about other forum members and how he had sought them out to learn what they knew. He traveled long distances to meet people from the group to find out about the rocks and minerals/fossils etc that interested him and that he wanted for his collection. I suspect he was collecting people as well.
It dawned on me that he was teaching me how to make friends and showed me that I could take the initiative to reach out to others to find things in common. Light on in the attic!!!
I was grateful that he explained it, for I needed to know this badly. Others may have understood it intuitively, but I needed somebody else to point it out and explain it in order to understand.

Now I know I can find others of similar interests and ideas instead of waiting for random contacts
( or for them to reach out to me as my teacher did).

This is a tool I can use to move forward. I am so glad to know this, and so grateful for the explanation.

This is just one small example showing why parents need to explain absolutely everything to their autistic child.

No detail is too small, no action to simple to be ignored without explanation.

To me and to many other autistic folk, reasons behind other people’s behavior are hidden and complex, difficult to understand, or simply unknown and unseen… motivation is the most difficult thing for me to understand in any interaction with others.

Why does he ask that? what does she want me to do? What reaction is expected? What does that comment mean? Is it sarcastic, encouraging, meant to hurt, meant to be funny?
Help comes with detailed explanation. Knowing how to ask others to join me and ask them to teach me about what interests them will help me grow ideas, intellect, insights, and if I am lucky create a few new friendships as I go. How did I miss this??? ( autism)

What if somebody had explained this to me as a struggling teen 55 years ago (when the photo above was taken of me) ???

Thank you, my teacher, I am truly grateful for the insight!

Overload, Burnout, Stress and Distress

Its OK



I have gone into a mini depression lately. Not sure if it is the change of seasons, the culmination of my frantic search for information and the feeling of the need to reach others about adult autism and how diagnosis can be of so much value and usefulness even in old age.
Maybe everything in this world combined at the moment is overwhelming me, what with Covid, politics, etc etc.
I want to hide. I want to escape, I want to find peace.

I have learned that its OK…. to put self care ahead of everything else.

I am spending lots of time sleeping, reading, cuddling with my fuzzy blankets in my favorite spots.
I have given up going onto forums and web pages discussing so much pain, angst, hurt and anger.
I have taken up indoor gardening and am involving myself in growing things.
I am walking again on the lake shores and in the woods and glorying in the peace and being completely alone.

I am not keeping to my strictly healthy diet lately and feel both guilt and relief, probably in equal doses, knowing that what I snack on directly affects my health. That is OK too and I will resolve that problem in the future, just not today, and maybe not tomorrow.

It is OK to shut the door on the world for as long as you need or want to.
It is OK to spend time alone.
It is OK to shut off the media, to avoid the internet, to give yourself time and room to process the things that are causing such difficulty and pain in your life.

It is OK to reach out for help if you find yourself stuck and overwhelmed and unable to meet responsibilities.
Make sure those you are responsible for are safe (children, pets, property, jobs, etc) ( of course you will) and ask for help if you can’t do this alone.

It is OK to be human, to have needs and to have struggles.
Being autistic predisposes us to struggles, and sometimes we need more time and “space” to sort our lives and figure out new ways to deal with the things that are hardest for us.

Deal with, cope, negotiate, approach, contend, are all descriptions of conflict and struggle.

It is OK to have struggles, to need time to find ways to make life work its best for you.

You are important and you are worthy of peace, safety, rest. and self care. Don’t let others tell you what you need, don’t let others tell you “you should” do anything or that you “ought to be able to handle” things when you are overwhelmed.

Seek help to find ways of getting your needs met, doing things in better ways, finding paths that aren’t as painful, solving your problems creatively and finding self compassion along the way. You are worthy. It is OK to have needs, to need help, to have problems so overwhelming you can’t contend with them alone.

If you are struggling and in emotional pain, please reach out and ask for help.

One Year Anniversary

the first year of my life as officially diagnosed Autistic


Today, exactly one year ago I was given a diagnosis of autism by a wonderful doctor

who came out of retirement to finish the process he had begun before he retired due to ill health.

Subsequent test results compiled and explained 3 months later were so helpful in understanding my lifetime struggles and gave such great insights to my worst problems, allowing me to arrange my life to accommodate the things that were most difficult for me and to make my life easier, less stressful, and more comfortable. I will be forever grateful to the kind doctor who gave of himself amidst his own personal struggles and very serious ill health to reach out and help me at this late stage in my life.

What good does it do to have diagnosis as an adult of any age?

WE are already “out in the world”, have places in society and are in situations in life not knowing. Why does it matter now?

Diagnosis can explain why we struggled all our lives, it can give us insights into the struggles we had socially, at work, in the family, help us understand how our neurology worked against us time and time again in situations that we may not have understood or that might have been helped by knowing our limitations, our strengths, our neurological processing needs, and that above all, our pains, hardships, struggles, and limitations were not “all our fault”. We were not to blame for our inability to keep a job, to find a mate or a friend, to interact with others, to care for ourselves or others, the list goes on. So many people struggling on the edge of society might find new ways to do things and new ways of understanding if they knew they had a neurological reason or reasons for their struggles and that they are not bad, wrong, stupid, thoughtless, or many of the other labels we have been saddled with in our struggles. By using the tools of analysis, we can discover what accommodations, helpful therapies, special schooling, housing, care arrangements, etc may work best for us and help us to be productive, healthy and to find peace as we sort out how autism had its way in our painful social histories and how we can proceed with healthy understanding as we sort our pasts and move forward. I Know how much it has helped to know and understand my own autism. I deeply wish to help others struggling with self blame, self doubt, self hatred, fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, desperation and defeatedness to be able to say to themselves also. Aha, that was autism! And to use the knowledge of self diagnosis to grow and thrive instead of merely to survive.

Coping with anxiety

Autism anxiety, old age, trying something new

This is going to be more personal than a lot of my attempts to provide general information;
I am going to be teaching a little class for the “lifelong learners” group at my local community college. The title is “Discovering Adult Autism” . It will have basic information about autism’s history, what autism is and how it affects us, why undiagnosed people have needless struggles that could be helped by diagnosis, etc.
When I volunteered to teach this class I was offered live streaming or to wait until I could do the presentation in a classroom. Being old and unfamiliar with technology and being totally not visual in nature due to my autistic sensory processing issues, I asked to wait until class opened for personal participation.
I thought I would be teaching a very small group and have generated an outline, 5 pages of “handout” printed information.
I do not have the capability/access or experience, etc to produce visual format using today’s programs and graphics, etc. Very low key. Set it up as simple talk to local folks in a small classroom situation.
Just a week or so ago the ALL group leaders told me (did not give me the option) that they would be doing live streaming video. ( panic ensues)

I was not thrilled, having many self image struggles, and having avoided even photographs being taken of me for most of my lifetime.
I am adjusting to the idea that this is going to take place and have been told that the group moderator will do all of it without my being required to monitor screens, etc, which my visual and audio processing would make extremely difficult and stressful.
Instead she is supposed to tell me if the observers online have questions and to ask those questions for me to answer.
OK, I agreed to that.
Maybe I could pretend that was not going on and just give a presentation to the people present in class.
At age 68 (almost 69!) and being autistic, I am not too flexible or comfortable with new experiences… I see so many opportunities to humiliate myself. Lifetime of experience tells me this is likely to be the case in this situation too.

It is less than a week away and my program coordinator /moderator has not contacted me yet.
I only noticed that they had posted an online link to the thing for the group.
I repeat it here if anybody thinks they might be interested in watching.
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85307062424?pwd=RnQrZGRVRm9qYVF4bVE3N2xRa0J1QT09
Meeting ID: 853 0706 2424
Passcode: 863872 1PM Eastern time USA, September 30.

Evidently it will also be perpetually available on Youtube through the links of the group, ALL of Alpena.
The only thing keeping me from complete stampede and backing out is thinking about the possible audience that could be reached to explain about adult autism and how important it is to find the lost generations who missed diagnosis in their youth.
I think about how much life has improved for me with my new understanding of my own autism and how much diagnosis meant to the difference in my life from “survive” to ” thrive”.
Remembering how important diagnosis has been to my own life will give me enough determination to go through with this, in spite of my super anxiety and the desire to hide and withdraw from the potential disaster I see lurking, and which my mind is only too willing to dwell on.

Autism and Stigma

How do autistic adults experience stigma?


According to the neurologist who examined me first, autistic people are unaware that they are being bullied, stigmatized and socially isolated.
Almost all presumptions he was taught in the 1970’s and 80’s about social experience for autistic people has proved to be wrong.
Today even science recognizes that we are aware of being stigmatized due to our autism.
We feel isolated, we feel lonely, we feel it when we understand we are being avoided, patronized, mocked, bullied, selected for persecution and unwanted aggression due to our differences.

A few weeks ago I accepted a friendship request on Facebook from a man who belonged to a special interest page that I am also a member of.
I looked at his posts and decided he was safe. OK, friend request accepted. Now we can share info, see each other’s posts, and interact with each other on our personal pages.
I have many online friends and enjoy the interactions immensely. Since I do not do well in “real time” interactions due to my slow visual and audio processing issues, facebook and other internet web pages really do work as my “social life”.

Hours later, he sent me a message asking me to ” unfriend him” . It seems that he had his facebook page only for close friends and family members. (untrue, I had seen his page and some of the other friends were also members of the same special interest group). Well, I can be grateful that he didn’t just “block” and “unfriend” me, I suppose. I think he saw my link on my personal page that shows my blog address “old lady with autism”. and it scared him off.

It is unlikely that my politics or my random comments offended him, I keep my political ideas to myself and don’t randomly rant about sensitive issues, I find all of that too upsetting and I don’t like to fight or to justify myself, I have said before, I am a lover, not a fighter. I do off and on post links to diagnosis of autism in adults but it is not even 10 percent of my normal content. I have drawn others specifically, I think because of my being open about being autistic.

Thinking about this experience, and also reading about how another neurodivergent friend was harassed and bullied and mocked because of her posts on another special interest page, I thought I might do a bit of research on how autistic folk are affected by stigma.

Guess what?
There were pages and pages of rants, commiseration, sympathy, empathy, discussion and suggestions for parents, siblings, caretakers of autistic children and one which also included caretakers of adult children.
There were studies and pages of blogs, support groups, “educational pages” planted to draw business for therapy groups and institutions, etc. all about how families and parents and partners and caretakers experience stigma over the autistic individual’s differences and stuggles…….
and, ( you know what I am going to say next) not ONE page about how autistic people experience stigma, not one study, only a few blogs by autistic folk like me.

Draw your own conclusions. I have no answers, but I can see a problem here…. can you?

“you can do it if you try”

Well, no, not always.. in fact not often. I have neurological struggles which keep me from understanding expectations and from recognizing situations or intentions that are completely obvious to others. I frequently do not understand “what they want” under many circumstances.

“Your’e just not trying”. “You just don’t pay attention”, “You just don’t care”

I have heard versions of this all of my life. I suppose it is meant to be encouraging or to stir me on to even greater achievements or make me feel guilty because I have not accomplished something others believe I “should” “can” or want to do.

Here is what undiscovered or misunderstood neurological struggles may be like. Your experiences may vary.

Witness the child in school, always in trouble for “not paying attention” when what is really happening is that she has difficulty processing ( understanding) anything she sees or hears in ‘real time’ classroom lectures, presentations, videos, movies, or podcasts. She is trying as hard as she can, in fact, she is overcome and fearful that she will be chastised again and again when she once again fails to meet expectations. She has had her hearing tested: perfect, even better than normal. She has got a recent eye exam and new glasses. Now she can do better in class, there is no excuse for poor performance. She tries to fake illness to avoid class, and is punished and sent to school anyway. Class is maybe safer than staying home, she is fearful no matter where she is.
Somebody will find her and punish her for not doing things she should… she can do it if she would just try! She is sure she is a failure, does not understand how to do better, knows she angers and frustrates people no matter what she does, and oh how she wishes she could fix herself and make them pleased with her. She wishes she could be good so she could avoid all the punishment, correction, shaming, criticism, blame. Oh how she wants to please them.
Oh, she is so lazy, that girl. She absolutely will not clean her room, she is so lazy, she has to be punished to get her to even try anything new. That child is driving me crazy, I have to keep after her all the time, and she runs away and hides when I scold her. She hides whenever she gets home, and It is getting hard to find her when I want her to do something. She deliberately avoids her responsibilities, she does not do her homework, she dawdles coming home from school, it sometimes takes an hour longer for her to get here, and there is housework to do and kids to watch, and I need her to take responsibility for being part of the family, she is angry and has tantrums all the time.
I hate being around her, she is surly and uncooperative, she is slovenly, doesn’t care about her looks, won’t help other family members, doesn’t share, fights with the others, refuses to share or be a part of the family, and is uncooperative no matter what I ask or tell her to do. She never appreciates a thing I do around here.. So ungrateful!
I would send her to a children’s home in a heartbeat, maybe then she would appreciate her family. I tell her so frequently, maybe she will shape up then! Maybe then she would behave. This is so difficult, she is such a problem. She could do it if she would just try!

As an adult:

Co workers say you are difficult, you isolate yourself, you are not a team player, you seem to put others down and feel superior. You don’t participate in company events, you argue or criticize over work projects and how to achieve them. You question and pick apart every statement by others. You are overly strict about structure and keeping your files and information : or you are sloppy and disorganized, your workplace is a mess You better shape up, change your ways, or you are likely to lose your job. You can do it if you try. You simply don’t care enough/ think you are so superior, you don’t feel the need to change.

At home. I am the only one who ever cleans, does the chores, cooks, does the laundry… or: you have to control everything, why do you constantly yell at me because I used the wrong tool or put the mop back in a different way? Why can’t you just pitch in when you know there is a job to be done. Why can’t you help when I ask you? Don’t you care about my feelings? You don’t love me, you always, you never (fill in the blanks). If you just tried, you could : (fill in the blanks)

Does any of this seem familiar to you too?

Imagine being in a nursing home, being labeled willful, challenging, uncooperative, resistant, and having endured this sort of thing all your life, never having understood that it was not “all your fault” and that your neurology was the cause of so many struggles and pains of the past. This is the truth for so many elder adults today.


Knowing your autism diagnosis even late in life is key to self understanding and thereby learning to also understand others. It is also the key to understanding of others who interact with you!
So much of the past is suddenly understandable, forgivable because nobody knew Autism had its way all your life. Nobody could see it, nobody understood. Knowing your autism diagnosis now is the key to adapting, understanding, self care, and healing.

Every Day Autism

or: Autism Every Day


In the process of finding myself as I age, I have been able to make many adjustments to my life that make things more comfortable. Everybody must do this, arrange our homes, our schedules, our routines, etc to make things work for us.
I am often able to simply go through life without a lot of struggles because I have made accommodations for myself.

Over the past few days, we went to visit a family member in a place unknown to me. We joined other family members who were there as well. A joyous reunion!
We stayed several days and then drove home again. Not something that happens very often in my life.

Being newly diagnosed and still becoming aware of my own autism and its struggles and strengths, I thought about my newly discovered diagnosis related to this novel experience, and had a series of “aha” moments.

In my recent experiences I was reminded about how much of my life is affected by my autism and I am gaining more perspective on my own struggles and how it affects others as well.

We drove about 7 hours one way to get there. We stopped twice. We had our dog with us .

I definitely needed my sun glasses to help control the flashing light and glare of light and shadow. In many places sun through the trees made powerful strobe effects. I understand why I get car sick/motion sick… my visual and audio processing can not keep up! I was mildly nauseated to almost completely sick – fluctuating at various times. I felt definitely disoriented, and anxious through out the trip. These things have been true whenever I traveled in the past. Now I know why!
( autisim and associated neurological processing struggles)

I was anxious about getting lost, anxious about the high speeds my husband drives at, anxious about his driving (miles and miles of accident free driving in his history) hypervigilant and fearful all the way there (and back). The dog did not travel well, and this added to my anxiety and concern.

Wearing masks and trying to avoid people, cleaning hands and etc at rest stops (we brought our own food in the car to avoid extra contact with strangers, etc) , also added another unfamiliar and very uncomfortable dimension to trip taking.

When we got there, our other family members were there, and we had a happy reunion, hugs exchanged, and days of talking and eating ensued. I found I could not follow or understand most of the information being exchanged. Everybody talking excitedly at once left me covering my ears, asking for clarity, needing explanations or lots of repeated statements, etc.
After several days of working hard to follow, understand, communicate, reach out and interact, I have wiped out my “coping tools” and need time to re charge and process all that input. I suspect I missed about 90 percent of information exchanged. The love and joy of our being together at last overshadowed this and compensated for a lot of the things I know I missed.

I woke hours before everybody else. In my everyday routine, I rise around 4 Am, I go online for a few hours, prepare my coffee and make breakfast, go back online to catch up on my autisim forum groups, do research, visit pages I use very day. No computer here, mine is a desktop and not portable. I read the only book I had brought with me the first morning I was awake.
I had not planned on hours alone in a strange place without resources to help me through… no computer, it was freezing cold in the unaccustomed air conditioning ( welcome during 90 degree day times but frigid at night and early mornings.
I slept very little and felt lost a lot. I had no resources to self accommodate. I had not even brought a sweatshirt or warm clothing.
I was invited to go on a couple of excursions in the big city nearby, but I became anxious at the thought of it, it had not been planned, I was not driving, I did not know the city or anything about it. Too big, too scary, too unknown. If I had a few days to prepare and to study maps, write instructions, print or draw a map or two…. I might have done OK… as it was, everything was unknown and unexpected. I don’t often do things without previous plans and insights, “impropomptu” is not part of my usual life practices.


I go to bed when it gets dark. The others stayed up till the approach of dawn and slept 4 to 5 hours later than I did.

We ate together, we talked, laughed, remembered, shared love, memories, insights, and enjoyed each other’s company. We will all no doubt need lots of extra time to rest and recoup, adjust and return to normal. ( all of us have neurological struggles of all sorts)
I have once again become aware of my autism and how much it takes to step outside the safety net of routine and familiarity, isolation and structure, and of the exhausting effect of the attempts to keep up with rapid changes, attempts to understand new and different surroundings, and to understand and communicate within groups of people, even very beloved people in social interactions , situations, locations, routines and new experiences, solo or shared.

Now two days home and lots of hours of sleep, normal life resumed at our usual quiet pace, I am beginning to recover my emotional, intellectual, and physical equilibrium.

I suspect it is going to be even more difficult as I become older. I need to think a bit more about how to make the adjustments I will be needing. I am so grateful for the opportunity to see those I love and care about most deeply, also for my new and deeper understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses in the new context of my autism and the ways I must do things to be at my best.

I had not stopped to consider “every day” autism, the challenges I deal with every day when those challenges are suddenly transported to new situations, environments, experiences, etc.

I sometimes think I am doing very well.

Experiences like this, positive though it was, remind me of the limits to my established ways of coping.

How much more difficult for those brothers and sisters in autism who have so many challenges I don’t have??

How much more difficult for those who don’t have choices to participate or to travel, or to be thrust repeatedly into new and bewildering or frightening situations?

The thing that is different now is knowing I do experience “every day” challenges that others simply don’t have. Diagnosis is life changing.