This year has been one of personal growth.
I started this blog in January, thinking I could perhaps keep track of the things I am learning about my own autism and about getting older. I had decided that I wanted to share information about the things I have been learning just in case there are other older autistic people like me. At age 66 I thought I was most likely autistic, by 67 I was sure, but I did not get an “official ” diagnosis of autism until I was 68.
Everything in my life has changed due to my new self understanding and my knowing that diagnosis of autism. My disabilities are still there, I have the same struggles and the same weaknesses/ the same strengtsh. My unusual neurology has not changed, I was born this way, I will die this way.
Today I am looking at myself in new ways. I had not looked at myself or understood myself at all in the years before discovering my autism. I had learned to adapt my behaviors for survival and coping ( so very poorly with no understanding) and I can congratulate myself on living to the age of 65 without the knowledge of my autism. I am definitely a survivor.
Life is finally understandable with my knowing about autism. I can look back and see my traits through the window of autism and know that my failures, misunderstandings, pains, and sorrows were all affected by my autism and that nobody in those days knew or understood about that, any more than I did.
My life until diagnosis was an anarchy where autism ruled behind the scenes and nothing made sense because it was hidden. I was so busy struggling every day to understand what was happening, why, trying to keep my fears and anxiety and depression in check, and i went along putting out situational fire after fire. I did not have the tools of knowledge or the time for introspection.
Now retired and with much more time to spend on research, doing some soul and self thought searching and finally finding autism, I am anxious to share what I have learned and to attempt to share with other old folks the insights that set me free from all the years of self blame, misery, anxiety and desperation.
I was able to change the pattern because I could see how autism had worked in every corner and cranny, every dark and desolate place, every unforgiving and painful moment of my life.
It has been such a relief and such a freeing feeling to know and understand. I am not to blame for the way I was a spectacular failure most of my life. I am autistic and I did not have the tools or self understanding to make the adjustments I needed for a healthier and happier life.
Starting in January with this blog, I have tried to open the lid on the “toolbox” and to explain to myself as well as others how autism has affected me, how it works in others, and how I can have healing and better living now that I understand my autism.
I hope this blog has been useful and that it will help those new to autism at such a ripe old age to understand themselves and their history, their lives today, and to help improve their lives going forward with new understanding.
I salute you all as survivors, and encourage you to forgive yourself, take care of yourself, and to understand that it is not your fault, and you are definitely not alone.
What next? Now that I have my professional diagnosis, I can proceed with plans to reach out to other elders in my community, to raise the awareness of autism in the lost generations , particularly focusing on those who are of the “baby boom” generation. As elder autistics retire and need more support, I believe it is urgent to have understanding of their autism in order to provide safe and satisfactory conditions and to alleviate suffering and struggles whenever possible.
With self understanding we can become advocates for ourselves and others who are trapped in cycles of pain which they don’t understand and which might be helped with knowing about their own undiagnosed autism.
I will still write here about how autism can affect us and continue to try to explain the things I am learning. But I will focus locally on finding the 200 or more undiagnosed autistic people here in my own area. ( number based on population of people over age 20 in my county and city).