Autism after adult diagnosis

adjusting to our new understanding 5 things that might help!

Finding out we are autistic throws “everything” we thought we knew and understood about our selves, others, our past, our nature, our lives right up until we are finally diagnosed late in our lives, into new perspective.

Suddenly learning how autism has been working within us all these years without our knowing can be stunning, disconcerting, upsetting, exciting, a huge relief and also a huge disappointment causing grief for our past self, time we now see as lost, and shaking us to the core because of new self perceptions.

The longer we have gone without knowing our diagnosis, the more there is to sort!

Here are things I have figured out that helped me through the rough days following my self identification and 3 years later professional confirmation of my autism diagnosis.

Learn as much as you can about autism: This helps with self understanding , we can figure out exactly what our neurology is doing through autism, figure out our best strengths and help support our worst weaknesses, once we understand our own neurological “wiring”.

Books, blogs, online videos, articles from groups and organizations, reading studies “about” autism can help us see ourselves both as we are now and as we were in childhood, young adulthood, middle age, etc. Knowing more helps us understand all those “whys” of our lives, helps us see ways we can make our current lives better by making adjustments in the way we do things every day. Information is power we can use !

Find emotional and social support : There are many online autism support groups, they can be local or international, the culture and intent of each group will be different and you may have to try several over time to find a group that is right for you. There are groups for parents, groups for those with multiple diagnoses, groups for gender identities, groups for those with autistic parents, groups for those who do not speak, for those with interests in certain topics, etc.
Joining such a group provides support and assurance that we are not alone, that others have gone through similar struggles, had similar issues, needed certain specific explanations, and reassurance that if they have got through this, you can too!

These support groups are generally especially for problem solving and asking questions about personal struggles. They are generally private, closed groups, so you may have to sign in. sign up, agree to abide by the group rules and stay within the group guidelines. It might take several tries to find your on line home, but it is worth it!

Where else would we find insights and experience, and the combined years of wisdom got from living autistic lives to help us find solutions to our problems? If we live in a higher populated area there are also often local “in person” support groups , which again feature special focus on support, information, recreation, specific age groups or other limits and rules we will need to be aware of.

Seek counseling or therapy:: if we have emotional pain or struggles with anger, self injuring behavior, addictions, eating disorders, multiple diagnoses, destructive behaviors around food or other bad habits or if we have constant depression or anxiety. We can figure out where we can change things.

Living a life of distress and frustration, filled with misunderstandings and emotional hardships seems to be more likely than not for most adults who have made it to old age before discovering our autism.

We may have learned to cope with our struggles in many unhealthy ways. Therapy can teach us new ways to communicate, help point out things we might not have understood in our history or present lives and help us substitute healthier ways of living and “doing life”.

Due to our autistic rigidity, we may not be able to see we have choices and alternatives. We may have to try several therapists before we find one we can communicate with, but they do not have to have experience with autism, only the willingness to work with us to find solutions to our day to day struggles, our trauma, or other problems that need better solutions.

If what we are doing is not helping, we can learn to do something else instead.
There is almost always a “better way” and therapists are there to help us find those ways.

Give yourself time! It has taken all our lives to get here, it will probably take some time and lots of emotional “homework” to sort it all out with our new perspective, to figure out how to make our lives better, to find new ways to “do life” with our new understanding. Your best life starts now. Take good care of yourself, keep trying, consult others who have “been there- done that” , get advice, consider options, we will find that although our basic struggles have not changed, our ability to cope, our self understanding , our new insights to others and our own personal history will begin to grow and change as we move forward to our new lives as “actually autistic”.

Make a “safe place” or a haven, a nest, at home: . We need a place where we can refresh our minds and souls in safety and comfort. It can be a quiet corner anywhere, a special chair, a bedroom hideaway. a den, a place that is filled with things we can find comfort in.
We almost always need a refuge/retreat or a sheltered space where we can re charge our emotional and physical “batteries” after a hard day, an argument, a meltdown, any upset. The nature of autism makes this important for self regulation and self care. You can make mini-safe places while on the road, at the office or workplace, and find new ways to give yourself comfort and escape or rest when you need it. Try brainstorming with others in your household, group, or those online problem solving forums. The ideas that others have come up with can be so useful!

Making progress?

Autism diagnosis and ageing adults blog

I missed it, passed the 200th post in this blog!!!!

We are entering the 4th year of the blog and just celebrated our 3 years since my diagnosis anniversary.

The format for these posts puts the most recent entry on top, so to read the whole thing in chronological order, you will have to scroll to the last entry and read backwards! This will be the 209th post .

If you find the information here useful would you be so kind as to share the address?

It seems urgent that autistic adults ageing in frustration and confusion and emotional pain be found so they too can finally experience the relief of having answers to all those painful “why” questions of the past.

I am feeling as if I am running out of time. Old age is creeping up and poor health is looming… I want to try to reach as many older adults as possible to inform about diagnosis of autism even in the latest stages of our lives. There is no way to measure the difference in self understanding diagnosis can make!

I know how much help it has been to know my diagnosis and how much my self understanding and understanding of others has grown from this new perspective. I know how much diagnosis has helped me improve my every day living through making so many adjustments and self accommodations, being able to see old problems “with new understanding” I wish this for others who have lived all their lives without knowing about their own autism.

I have been able to mostly overcome the many struggles and hurts, damage due to trauma, and for so many years simply not understanding just about “everything” due to my autism.

It has been such a relief to learn everything was not, after all, “all my fault” . I have learned new ways to “work around” the autism struggles I have to find new ways to live a better life with less frustration, struggle and discomfort. I have made a new network of friends, I have begun to live my “best life ever” since I finally found out about my autism.

Although diagnosis does not change a thing about our unevenly developed neurologies, it allows us to have the understanding we need to move forward with our lives and to make adjustments to all sorts of things which used to give us struggles… self accommodation is possible in many ways, once we know about our autism.

This blog was established as a sort of “adult training wheels” or beginners collection of info about the nature of autism itself, about the vocabulary, the neurology, the social struggles, rigid thinking, and repetetive behaviors that we all must have in order to be diagnosed as “actually autistic”. I wanted people new to autism to have explanations I was finding all in one spot, not to have to hunt all over the internet, the library, etc. to glean bits and pieces of information as I have been doing since I first suspected my autism6 years ago.

The blog is about how we can find diagnosis and then adjust our lives once we learn about our autism, even in very old age .

I hope you find what you need!

Please look on Facebook for “Autism for Older Adults” a public informational study group page about diagnosis, autism’s core features, and adjusting to diagnosis as an older adult.

There are lots of links and discussions about these things as well as references to studies, articles, groups, the latest autism information, and more. Some of the blog posts are referenced and re printed there as explanation, too.

Still feeling hopeful about the future as science learns more about autism and we obtain diagnosis and adjust to new and better lives because we have done so. as January 2023 draws to a close, may I wish you a better new year.

Becoming a victim Autism

autism and being a target

Autism and vulnerability, autism and trusting nature, autism in old age, autism as targets of crime.

I probably have your attention now!

Statistics from internet sources confirm that autistic individuals report being victims of crime more frequently than the general population.

There is much speculation about why this may be so. Those with autism become easy targets once our trust is gained, and since for many of us, our “social radar” and ability to detect hidden motives is poor, we can be tricked, conned, lied to, manipulated, pressured and intimidated into situations that others may more easily be able to avoid.

One way we can help ourselves to stay safe and be less likely to become victims is to learn about the types of crime and how we can spot it, protect ourselves, what measures we can take to be safer in public and or at home, this includes the internet and email/ forums/ things like dating services, social groups, and any interactions we may have with others.

Especially as we grow older, we become focus of predators who may want to use us for their own benefit. Younger people need to watch more for sexual predators and how they may be placing themselves in jeopardy physically. As we grow older, adults need to watch for those who want access to our bank accounts, credit cards, household valuables, the drugs we may take to alleviate pain in our poor health as we age, and the multiple ways scammers use to access us and play upon our lack of social skills, lack of self confidence, our trusting ways being usually non suspicious by nature, etc are amazing.

Simply being aware that there are predators “out there” may not be enough! Learning about the ways they work can help us spot unlikely behavior and questionable motives.

Home improvement scams and home help scams : Predators gain access to your home and may present you with what seems like “cheap” help , fix a roof or paint the house, put in new steps or drive/walk? Sign this contract, and oh, by the way I need at least half of this in cash as an advance .

Dating and romance: sometimes people pretend to be romantic interests in order to get you to give them money. I just need $$$ because I need surgery, my son is disabled and needs an operation. I’ll by the engagement ring but I don’t have enough for the deposit, I need money to complete school when I graduate I can fly to you. I need money for rent, for tickets to fly to meet you, for helping my poor granny…. any plea for money online or the phone before you have ever met somebody “in person” (or even after) especially if they promise love love love and tell you repeatedly after only a short period of contact how much they care about you… that should set of huge alarm bells.

Photos of the handsome/ beautiful person you are talking to are not likely to be the actual individual. No matter how lonely you are, no matter how much you want companionship or a partner…. think it through. Can you find them in city/state/records or other places on the internet as proof of their actual claims (address, phone number, employnent history, tax or voting records?) Romance scams may be the most painful of all. Guard your heart and your finances.

Need somebody to clean or cook or help take care of household needs or personal things such as toileting and bathing/ dressing? Watch them go through your things and take what they want, including what may be in the medicine cabinet . They may give hints that they are poor and needy and ask for loans, ask for forwarding of salary and then deny they recieved it and demand payment. Might want reimbursement for things they claim you asked them to purchase (food, meds, something for cleaning, car care, etc) Might want to bring a friend to visit … might look through your personal files to see what your financial status is, steal checks or pass books, ask you to sign papers and try to keep you from reading and understanding what they say.

The best thing you can do is talk to others to learn how these scams and theft are done. The internet can help, sometimes senior centers or police departments can help with instruction or more information.
Your local librarian may be able to help you find more information, and of course there’s always the internet.

Phone scams: somebody calls claiming to be a relative in jail, medicare, your bank, your doctors office or pharmacy, your credit card company. Anybody who asks for information about your bank account number or your credit card number is probably fraud. Tell them you will call them back, hang up and call your bank, etc yourself from the numbers on your own records (don’t use recall feature or phone ID number from which you received the call)

Internet scams: Beware of

People who post sad stories about needing money for medical bills, dental work, their mission work, home fire, family problems, etc. wanting money to find a lost family member or a lost pet. Wanting you to give your money to them for any sad reason at all. even If you have lost a pet and somebody claims to have found it, or another lost item and says they are far away and need money to return the lost item. Postage, shipping, travel expenses?

Somebody who sees you are a golden person with a good heart, a beautiful smile, how much they love your posts, but they are not anybody you ever interacted with before. Be my friend, I am so glad I found you!!!! beware!!!!

People with good deals especially for you. Just send a deposit for shipping , handling, taxes (you have won the lottery!!!!) etc.

Emails from a foreign prince telling you he needs your help… ( this has become a joke, but some people must have fallen for it at some time because the scam in many forms still exists and if it had failed and was not profitable, predators would have changed their methods)

Surveys on the phone or on line: Can gather huge amounts of information about personal possessions or habits, security measures, bank accounts and investments,

Do educate yourself on the ways fraud and theft happen especially to older folks. We might not have learned about personal safety when we were young, but we can do our best to protect ourselves in our older age by learning basic safety not only for our personal well being but also how to protect ourselves against the sea of metaphorical sharks “out there” who would like nothing better than to have access to our homes, our savings, our possessions, our health and credit records, etc etc. You have it in your power to prevent these things from happening.

If you feel inadequate to do your own research, reach out to social service agencies, the police, your local senior center, the library, or trusted others to help you get the information you need to protect you life and assets from predators. Autism may make us more vulnerable, but we can help ourselves to see beyond the friendly voice, the smiling face, the helpful “friend”… I hope this sets us to thinking about finding new ways to be safe as we age.

After Adult diagnosis

It is never too late !

Reports of older adults finding diagnosis are becoming more frequent.
Many elder adults suddenly discover that they have spent a life time working to understand

WHY they have always struggled socially, Why it seems so hard to do social things that others seem to do naturally and easily. Make friends? Mix and fit into a social group? Be comfortable in social situations from school, meetings at work, group gatherings of family, or for business purposes, or while participating in clubs, societies, organizations, church or worship activities, or simply being around a lot of others.

WHY it seems so difficult to understand the motives of others, explain yourself and your intentions or thoughts, to find “common ground” and to seamlessly without awkwardness negotiate any interaction with anybody at all?

WHY it is so difficult to deal with sounds, scents, sights, the sensory feelings of doing daily things that others never comment on and seem to do with ease and comfort?

Why doing physical things have always been difficult, being called accident prone, clumsy, thoughtless or careless all our lives?

Why we have always struggled with so many things others seem to do with ease, been awkward and difficult and “outsiders”, and being the focus of struggles, blamed in any and seemingly every distressed situation, even among family and those who know us best?

Suddenly so many things begin to make sense! Our neurology is different and makes many things in live much more difficult for us! ( Nobody knew! What a relief! Now what????)

Adjusting to this new insight and the perspective it brings to the past, our present situations, and our ideas about the future can be overwhelming. Sorting out everything we have known and thought we understood from this new perspective can leave us shaken, upset, disoriented, confused, and full of re-lived emotional pain and well as suddenly grieving our old selves and understanding so many things about our expectations and limitations. So much to sort and understand. So much to learn, so much might change!

We can find many ways to help ourselves at this time.
Knowing our diagnosis can help us get in touch with others who may also be autistic. we can seek support of professionals in sorting emotions, finding help or aid for struggles with jobs, housing, food, or medical struggles such as addiction or other health issues. We begin to see how autism had its works in everything all our lives, amazing! Everything was not, after all, “all our fault” but autism had its works going on without anybody knowing or suspecting. Nobody knew!!!!

There are so many support groups available in so many places, either “in person” or on line. It has been a huge relief to understand that I am not alone but that there are many others who understand, and who have lived experience and insights and suggestions that can help me in many ways.

WE can seek insights into our past and learn about the ways we “self adjusted” to cope with our hurts and struggles. Many of us have spent a life time mis understanding what healthy choices and healthy living, both physically and mentally and emotionally can do for us. We may never have considered we could make other choices than those we learned as young people in frequently unhealthy family/group situations.

A therapist, psychologist, counselor, or social worker can be helpful to show us where we have the opportunity to work our lives differently, make healthier choices, have better and healthier communication with others, learn new life skills that will be less painful and more helpful going forward.

Knowing ourselves seems to be one of the best things that come with diagnosis. Self understanding is so important and so many of us have been so busy defending ourselves and avoiding and hiding from our struggles, trying to hide hurt and misunderstanding so much!!!

WE may not have thought ourselves important enough to take the time to do the work of self understanding, we might have tried and given up in despair at finding ways to change anything at all in our lives.

Something that can help tremendously is to know how autism works in us and to be able to see how much it affects us every day in so many ways.

This may take some time to discover, but the more we seek information about autism in general and learn how others arrange their lives in healthier ways around their own autism, the better we can understand ourselves and see how so much information can apply to our own self.

There are an abundance of books, blogs, audio podcasts, videos and memes available.
There are tons of support groups on the internet and in “real life” in many places.

Start with local, county or state associations and ask for referral or information.

You can do this by email, phone, or on line, or in person.

If what you find is not helpful or comfortable, keep trying!

There are so many opportunities to get information and support today. You may have to spend some time in getting experience with “real time” groups and interactions to find something helpful and comfortable for you. Please keep seeking information and asking questions. There are so many ways we can get information and support today. We have choices and alternatives!

“AHA” moments happen frequently as we suddenly see how some of our quirks, struggles, behavior, emotions, joys all fit into the ways autism can work inside of us. Behind “aha” comes self forgiveness and often forgiveness of others. Nobody knew!

First of all learn as much as you can about autism and see how it personally fits patterns of your life.

Second seek others who can help you understand autism and explain and support you in the hardest parts of your emotional homework. It is a lot to sort, and the longer we have lived, the more we have to examine and understand from this new perspective.
Others can offer insights. experience, explanations, and make suggestions sometimes when we are at a loss to figure something out.

Third practice your best self care right now. Life will be upset, emotions a whirlwind and others around you may also be feeling overwhelmed and lost, may have to adjust to this new perspective and the ways you will want to change life from what it has been to what it “can be”.

Make sure you are patient and kind to yourself and others as you all go through it, get enough rest and proper nutrition, etc. You are worthy of finding peace and self forgiveness, forgiveness from and for others, and you are worthy of finding the best ways to go forward as you (all) adjust to the new perspective of diagnosis of autism.

See also “tools we can use” posts elsewhere in these pages.

Happy new year to all, may it be the best and brightest yet!

Autism as disability

my autism is NOT a gift or a simple difference, not an “alternative” I would ever choose.

Yesterday was a mixed bag of experiences, overwhelmed by the loud Christmas music my husband delights in playing this time of year, I figured out that the booming base was what was the most triggering of my anxiety and was able to lower the setting so that I could cope.

I was working next door in the kitchen and the base was simply overwhelming while my poor audio processing garbled all the vocals and left me scrambling to try to keep up with the tempo of the constant change of tunes. This is difficult to explain if you have not experienced it… sound can be simply overwhelming in many ways.
I did better after adjusting the volume and especially the bass settings to very very low.

At lunch my husband spent a lot of time explaining the setup of a “new to him” comedy he has begun watching on TV and really enjoying . His delight at the setup and the performances was so evident!

It was hard to keep the multiple characters sorted in my mind, lots of players in this program.

I generally do not watch TV because the audio and visual input are usually way too quick and my understanding and processing of images gets left way behind.
I confuse characters as soon as the set changes, the location of the characters or the costumes change. (prosopagnosia does not help here!).

I feel I miss out on so much and I see how much pleasure he gets out of some of these programs. Let alone the enjoyment we could otherwise share by doing something together, even as simple as watching his favorite tv programs.
So when spouse invited me to watch his program, meaning to share the fun with me, I agreed.
I would love to spend more time with him and it was so obviously important to him that I appreciate this!
I was able to watch about 7 to 10 minutes of it before I became completely motion sick.

The camera did quick switch and focus for every interchange of the many characters as they spoke.
I had to keep asking spouse for explanations of what the characters were doing, which one was which, etc etc.
I had to beg spouse to excuse me and forgive me, I felt physically sick and growing sicker, nausea, dizziness, headache…growing worse by the minute, although I could see and appreciate his enjoyment of the program.
He was kind and understanding and I don’t think he was hurt or offended since he does understand my perception problems . I think we were both disappointed.

I went to my quiet nest ( recliner in the bedroom where I sleep far away from the TV) and I began to recover and then began to read, but felt overwhelming sadness at the fact that I must be so limited in so many things that might help our relationship build strength and develop deeper companionship and understanding. I have missed so much over the years! We have missed so much!

I was sad, am still sad, for all the missed input I lose by not being able to process videos, movies, tv programs, etc and all the ways that I could have to share time and pleasurable experiences with my partner and others through shared activities.

My inability to process visual activities and sounds related to entertainment and education leaves me far behind many people who use these venues daily with never a thought.

Yes, that is a true disability. Not understanding or being able to keep up with what is happening in “real time” or using these things to enhance and share experiences with others is truly difficult and when I stop to think about it, and I can see so completely the many ways this inability is a huge loss of opportunities, insights, information and shared experiences.

I am stopped, blocked, frustrated, sad and sometimes so very sorry for my personal losses due to my sensory processing problems. I do try not to dwell on things that can’t be changed, but sometimes I am forced to notice how very “different” I am.
Yes, I am disabled . There, I said it!

Today I went to the Facebook page I moderate/admin and somebody had put a huge video up about how ” autism is not a disability, it is just a difference”. I took it down. This is a political football that some autism activists are pushing in many media formats today. You can find multiple posts, arguments and discussions all over the internet. Is autism a disability?
Take a look and decide for yourself.

When I am so different that I must find ways to keep from being physically and emotionally distressed, being both sick and overwhelmed, when I must ask for help to be understood and ask for accommodations for helping me be accepted, to communicate, and to function satisfactorily in ways that others may be able to take for granted, I do not see how in the world this is just “alternative neurology” and NOT a disability.
Perhaps others have more imagination. I simply can not find a way to appreciate that “just different” thing. There is way more to it than that simple dismissive statement.

The videos and writings of this sort are so frustrating and humiliating, they declare loudly that “we are not disabled”, then ask for special attention and accommodations because they are so very different. but it is just an alternative neurology, not something that we struggle mightily with every day in so many ways where others do the same things completely and easily, fully naturally without special setups, supports, accommodations, tools and accessories, special training, programs, etc etc etc.
I think of the autistic individuals who are brothers and sisters of my heart and soul who have so many more struggles than I do, so many really intense problems from intellectual disabilities, inability to speak, or read, or write, I could name a thousand ways so many of us struggle every minute of our lives with our simply different neurologies, no its not simple at all.

Nope, this does not compute. People of all abilities and neurologies deserve respect and compassion, kindness in an ideal world would always prevail.
But to deny that our disabilities are not disabilities at all is to deny our struggles, our painful interactions, our difficulties in doing what comes naturally and more easily to others, and to deny our existence and our histories, our painful interactions of the past, and the very difficult passage through our lives that so many autistic individuals have all our days on earth. That denial is so painful and distressing on so many levels!!!!

My autism is a disability every single day.

I can’t be the only one who experiences autism in this way, even though our individual neurological struggles may be very different.

Autism test results?

Have you taken ” Autism tests” ? What do the results tell you?

There are many places on line that offer free “autism tests” that you can take, from a simple yes and no format to one of those complicated things where you grade each reply to the intensity of response, from greatly disagree, partially disagree, slightly disagree, neutral, slightly agree, partially agree, or greatly agree.
I have a lot of difficulty with many of the tests because they are not specific enough. “what do they mean by that”??? is my response for a lot of questions in these things!

After learning more about assumptions and ideas about autism (which are so rapidly changing today). I got better at figuring out what was intended, and better at understanding the questions and “what they meant by that”.
Some of the tests I took several years ago are being proved to be based on false assumptions or using completely wrong criteria and “double empathy” mistakes in how results are tabulated, deductions of meaning in scores of these tests are made.

More diagnosing professionals are beginning to rely on things beyond test results and “observed behavior” . There is much more emphasis today (at least in up to date diagnoses) being placed on observing and discovering our neurological processing struggles.

In some of the forums I have participated in recently, newly diagnosed individuals report their professional is referring to processing problems in any of the senses.
Proprioception seems now to be playing a much bigger part in informed and up to date diagnosis, with professionals beginning to look especially for processing troubles surrounding proprioception physically, and also with interoception.
(the latter would also have a great deal to do with one’s social interactions!)

We can obtain test scores for most of the available on line (and most are available!) used for diagnosis, but we need to learn the significance and meaning behind the questions to understand what has been tested and how the scores relate to our individual ways in autism.
Most test results give scores, but do not go beyond that to explain the how and why behind them!

Professional diagnosis process usually is summarized at the end, when your diagnosis is explained. Frequently the results are in writing, may even include a graph or chart. Test results may be explained.
The results I got included summary of neurological testing explaining that I had 35th percentile audio processing and 25th percentile visual processing.

This means that I am not good at all when it comes to things I see or hear, especially in “real time”. I had to think a while to understand what a true disability this is! So many painful past “whys” were answered. Autism! Nobody knew!

My word understanding and usage was in the “brilliant/gifted” category.
I have since reasoned that this is because it is the only part of my sensory processing that actually “works”. I have relied on reading and writing a great deal over the years to help me understand and interact in the world. It is my pathway to understanding when so much else has failed me.
I developed my word skills like a heavily used muscle.. it grew with use!

I always knew I loved reading and did better when I read things such as instructions or explanations, maps, graphs, and charts. Now all these years later I can understand finally “why” I rarely succeed in group interactions, “why” I often got so many things wrong when being taught in the class room from lectures and discussions or when movies or demonstrations were done without printed support/supplement. Knowing the extreme weakness of my sensory processing in vision and audio related interactions made perfect sense. ” So that’s why!!!!” Suddenly I understood so much of the painful past when looking at it from this new perspective.

My poor proprioception and lack of facial expression were noted and commented on as was my way of speaking ( stilted, didatic, lacking emotion) Although I feel very strong emotion it doesn’t usually come through in my verbal communication.

The summary has been very useful because it not only interpreted the test results but it explained them in ways I could use to make my life every day easier.

I have been able to understand how so many misunderstandings arose from my autism, so many “whys” answered when I learned how very poor my visual and hearing processing are.

I now know to be extra “wary” and careful if and when I expose myself to potential social or professional interactions. If problems arise I can understand how that might have happened. It doesn’t necessarily keep me from making mistakes when trying to force myself to interact in any setting with people in “real time.” Yes, that really is a handicap or a disability. ( I don’t agree that my autism is a gift as some people claim). Everybody’s opinions may be different.

I know to ask for instructions or communications about directions in writing. I know I will never have much success at interactions with a lot of people in noisy places, so I have figured out how to avoid those as much as I can and substitute other communication or interaction in other ways whenever possible. By doing this, I am better able to prevent myself from becoming overwhelmed, stressed and anxious.

Doing so many social things is incredibly hard when I miss so much. Now I know why!

I hope if you get a professional diagnosis, that you will ask for a written summary and explanation of the diagnosis and what weaknesses and strengths were noted. Talk it over and ask as many questions as you can, if given that opportunity!
By knowing these things we are better able to do self accommodations that will help us every day. By knowing and understanding how autism affects us (this is going to be very different for each of us) we can forgive ourselves and others for life long struggles and hardships, and we can figure out new and better ways of doing things today.

Autism Diagnosis can be life changing.

Approximately 6 years from my first suspicions about a possible diagnosis of autism, and 3 years from actual professional diagnosis, I am taking inventory.

How life has changed! It is difficult to be specific, since changes have taken place gradually as I learn more about myself, the nature of the neurology I have been given and how it has affected everything in my life from my birth onward.

Diagnosis first of all , self understanding of my autism, was a series of “aha” moments, small discoveries that added up to the conclusion that I was/ am indeed autistic began with those descriptions of autistic thought patterns, physical and emotional struggles with misunderstandings, misperceptions, and poor performance. One by one, the light went on. “I do that” “so that’s why” “Oh, that makes so much sense” as the series of autistic diagnostic criteria and discussions with others revealed details about the ways we experience our autism .

At first it was very difficult to understand that each of us experiences our autism quite differently, and that we experience certain aspects of “performance deficit” “problem behavior”
“processing problems” “brilliant and highly above average performance” in varying aspects of our lives. It was hard to figure out what I had in common with so many autistic folks on the websites with autism descriptions, on the blogs I read, on the discussion groups where people talked about autism in so many ways.

One thing that helped a lot was to try to remember all the problems I had in childhood. Misunderstandings, Hurts, discipline for being “bad” even though I never believed I was doing deliberately all the things I was blamed for, Problems at school, being bullied, all went under my mental metaphorical microscope to be examined closely. I came up with loads of struggles and hurts from the past.
This exploded to upsets of my young adulthood and right through my present day more recent problems. It seems certain experiences followed me right through my life, being uncoordinated, being bullied, making people angry without a clue as to why, diligent research and activities directed at specific life long interests (horses, humane issues surrounding domestic animals) super high word skills both in reading and writing, very very poor performance in other areas of life skills.

It started to add up when I was able to compare what other autistic folks described and explained as their autistic experiences. The diagnostic triad, social struggles, communication struggles, and rigid patterns of behavior and thinking added up to my own brand of autism once I was enlightened enough from painful search of my past to see it.

Suddenly I could see how autism was behind so many of the painful experiences of the past. Everything was not, after all, “all my fault” as I had believed in my soul… I had been told and punished for misbehavior, deliberately being bad, causing trouble, having disappointing school interactions and grades, being in general a nuisance and a problem which must be punished repeatedly and still failed to perform or conform. I was a huge disappointment, a behavior problem, a bad person! No longer!!! What a relief to finally understand how autism had its works in the past and nobody knew!

I have less emotional pain, since I learned how to sort old painful experiences that replayed constantly in my mind, causing anxiety and emotional upset over and over. I learned how to file such memories under “finished business” in my mind after sorting them from the new perspective of how autism had worked without anybody knowing or understanding. If there was nothing to be done about the specific painful memory today, it went into that metaphorical mental file. Every time that painful memory came back up after that, I simply stopped it as best I could and said to myself “that is finished business” and sent the memory back to the file. There is a detailed description of this process elsewhere in these blog pages.

I have been able to see how autism worked, file old memories that caused repeated pain (so many of them it actually impaired my life) and best of all I have been able to forgive myself and others for all those events because of course, nobody knew!!! Such a relief!

Knowing my diagnosis finally gave me the perspective/platform to see all those old events and the beliefs and emotions surrounding them in a new way. So healing!

Learning about my autism neurology, and finding my worst struggles, gave me the opportunity to think about how I could do the things that were hardest for me in new ways. I could adjust my activities, my surroundings, my ways of doing things to make things go more smoothly and be less distressing every day. I recommend that we tackle the very hardest and most painful things from every day life first, and as we realize we are stressed and distressed, continue to make adjustments in the way we do things for daily living, for special events in our lives, special projects or holidays, vacations, how we handle anything that is physically or emotionally distressing for us.

Having made many adjustments to my schedule, my activities, my social interactions, etc, I am feeling far less stress and anxiety, and finding more peace and ability to give myself comfort and adjust even small details to make life continually more “doable”. I don’t spend all my time worrying about “what if”. I am learning I can handle almost any situation I choose to put myself into and that my life will go on usually with no permanent damage if I make a mistake. ( that was a huge one! )

We can make so many choices over the way we want to “do life”. First we need to understand we do have that power within us, that we can figure out better ways to do almost anything. We can ask for help if we feel we can not do this part alone.

Others in your life may resist change or cause difficulties for adjustments we may want to make. Things can generally be negotiated and compromised and support can be gained, but it is unfair to make demands on others that everything in their lives must change completely as well.

Find yourself a good support group of older autistic adults, there are many many of them “out there”.
Ask for insights and suggestions about how others have solved problems surrounding their autism.
Ask first, if you need to, for explanations about whether the struggle you are facing is somehow common to other autistic individuals.
Forums are such a great source of so many years actual lived autistic experience and it is great to find out you are not alone, that there are others who actually understand!

I will not name support group forums because there are hundreds and the ones I like may not be helpful for you at all.

There are all sorts of autism support groups from age related, gender related, politics and social justice related, medical basis groups, and more.
I had to try maybe 15 or 20 of them before I found one I consider my autism home on the internet.

Make sure the group you join for support is just that, a social and emotional support group. There are information groups, study groups, news groups and of course thousands of blogs and social media pages. See which sort of group it is in the group’s rules and descriptions for best results!

There are chat groups, in person support groups, and so much more. You don’t have to do this alone, there are so many resources and options available. don’t give up, you will find something just right for you out there.

If you are just getting started, I wish you well on your journey of self discovery. Even after 6 years from my first self understanding of my being autistic, I am still having insights and learning new and better ways to do things. Even at this old age of 71, things keep getting better, less painful and upsetting and healing. I’ll be sorting the first 65 years for the rest of my life, but it has been so helpful to know. Diagnosis can be life changing. May all good things come your way in the impending new year.

Autism for older adults

Facebook page compliments this blog

Find the public group “Autism for older adults” on Facebook
Autism for older adults is a study group around finding diagnosis, understanding the nature of autism. and adjusting to an autism diagnosis.

Not for social purposes, not for political based autism discussions, not for emotional support, but a place to gather more information and insights about these 3 topics, which I address here in this blog.

Consider the face book page a supplement with more information and links to current autism information all in one location. May you find what you need to keep you informed as you find yourself in your new understanding of autism and your adult diagnosis. Thanks for looking.

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.