Where do I start?
What if you have just started thinking you might be autistic? How do you go about finding out?
Lots of us muse and speculate, remember, sort and mull ideas, emotions and information we already know, or think we know before we decide to take a closer look to gain deeper understanding. Some of us never get beyond the “what if” stage. That is OK.
For those of us who want to know more there are thousands of pages of information and thousands of hours of podcasts and videos or other visual media available. There are at least a few hundred books, articles, blogs and pages about adult autism available today.
I just jumped in and began looking for information from all of them. Since I am most comfortable with books, I started there, looking for “training wheels” sort of “beginner” books with simple basic information about autism.
I soon learned autism is a heavily divided and contested topic, with many very strong opinions “out there” trying to shout each other down and to claim their way to address autism is the best or only way and to attempt to erase other ideas or positions, opinions or outlooks.
Each of us must form our own opinions about the politics surrounding autism.
I looked first for very basic information. I quickly learned about false information and controversial “cures”.
Be skeptical when you start learning, question everything and see if claims hold up in the light of other’s input.
Look at all possible sides of claims and opinions expressed and use your own judgement.
I did not suspect all the surrounding political and unscientific hooey that I would find.
Being aware it is “out there” can help sort fact from fallacy. Don’t take anything at face value. Look for studies, documentation, references, links that agree and back up claims.
Start by gathering basic information about the nature of autism, how it works and expresses itself in individuals, watch for ways which you might have experienced some of the autistic struggles and differences described.
Most of what is written about autism is aimed at children and at parents. With this in mind, I found it very useful to look at my own childhood/growing up and to compare my experiences with descriptions made on articles addressing childhood autism.
You may find many of these before you find the 400 times as rare articles on older adults and autism.
There simply has not been interest in older adults having autism until very recently. There are a few on line forums for autistic adults. There are articles addressing “late diagnosis” of autism. These articles are generally by 15 to 30 year old individuals! The information and insights in them may be helpful to you none the less.
The pages here are intended to help those older adults new to the idea of autism find basic information all in one place. There are online forums like this and also several other blog pages which have insights and information as well.
If you prefer to view information or listen to it, there are podcasts and videos available too.
Once you have basic information you will have loads of questions. Getting more input will usually answer most of these, but I found that joining a group page where I could ask specific questions about autism helped me tremendously.
I got a lot of “whys” answered by others who shared their experience and insights of being older autistic adults and having been diagnosed or self identified for much longer than I was.
Getting input and building an information base and a foundation for understanding was the first step. I think it is good to continue to seek out new information and more insights as you grow in self understanding and begin to sort your past with new perspective. If you are like me, you will be so interested as you go through the process, that you will keep seeking more understanding. So many “whys” of the past answered, finding “how to” is so helpful!
I am about 6 years in from my first “I wonder” thoughts through diagnosis 3 years ago. I am still having “aha” moments as I learn more about autism and remember things from my past experiences.
Things keep getting better. I’m here cheering you on as you begin your journey, knowing the information you obtain now will be useful for the rest of your life. You are definitely not alone!