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!