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.

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.

Get READY now

What if there is an emergency?

Recent events have been on my mind lately. A good friend spent hours watching firefighters battle a huge blaze in an apartment complex across the street. An area the size of a city block was lost. All the people who lived there lost their homes and belongings. Certain surrounding areas had to be evacuated as well. Others were put on “standby” alerts.

People in the state where I live lost everything when an old dam burst and allowed water from the recreational lake it had created to inundate the subdivision and part of the large sized city just downstream from that location.
People who lived there lost their homes and belongings. Somebody I knew there was without utilities, including water and sewer for several days as the area began to recover.

There are chemical spills, forest and urban fires, floods, earthquakes, violent damaging storms, civil unrest, and many other reasons why people must suddenly leave their homes , evacuate certain areas, and try to begin new lives in places that are strange to them.

Do you have plans for such an emergency? Now is the best time to think about it, as terrifying as it might be.
Emergencies do happen in every part of the world, every day.

Our autistic inflexibility can be an extra problem for us in emergency situations. We can be so shocked by rapidly threatening events that we become ‘frozen’ and unable to act for ourselves. We may not be able to do the things that need to be done quickly in such an emergency if we have not planned and thought about what we would do and made certain things ready “just in case”.

The flood issue struck close to home. We live in an area close to one of the Great Lakes in the USA, and there is a river through the heart of town, much beloved, tamed by no less than 4 dams in regions above town and in the middle of town as well. If one of those dams broke, would/could the others follow? The government agency that inspects the dams says they are reaching the end of their span of usefulness and they are not completely stable. I have been thinking about what we would do here, if there was a flood situation and we had to be evacuated.
We have important papers we would need to take with us. We do not have a trailer or access to one to bring large items with us. By the time we got our files, our pets, our clothing and medications, food and water for 3 days, sleeping bags, etc. we still would have to find a safe place to go, figure out a safe route to get there, and figure out how to proceed to live our lives from there.
I am making a check list and gathering things we might need into one area of our home, and packing up what I can ahead of time.

Something that might help you think about emergency preparedness is the usa government website ready.gov What possible threats are most likely to cause emergency evacuations near you?

I began to prepare for emergencies even before I knew of my autism. I lived in an earthquake prone area in the south of my home state and there had been a lot of publicity about “the big one” – a huge earthquake being possible on a nearby extended-area fault zone which had been inactive for well over a hundred years. I had small children and the stories of possible damage worried me. So I began preparations.

I packed an emergency bag for each family member, one complete change of clothing plus a couple extra socks and underwear, and shoes. Shoes are so important in case of night time evacuations and possibilities of having to walk in areas with broken glass, damaged buildings, down trees, etc..

I remembered to pack clothing that could be used as night clothes in a public sleeping situation. I packed a towel, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc in the emergency bags (these were backpacks). I packed a comfort toy and non perishable snacks in the kids’ bags.

I packed a bag for the pets with collars/ harnesses/ leads, dishes, food enough for 3 days. I packed the contact number for the vet and included letters for “permission for emergency treatment” as well as all health records for the critters.

I packed food and water for 3 days for each family member as well.
I made sure we had copies of our birth certificates, our social security numbers, emergency phone numbers (family, friends, etc we would need to contact in case of emergencies , doctors numbers, health records, records of all the places we paid our household bills, so we could terminate service, ask for extensions or help restoring services, tax records, etc.
Insurance cards and copies of plans plus contact numbers went into the bags, as well as all the contact numbers and account numbers for the bank, credit cards, etc etc.
I got extra prescription drugs for family members and put those in the bags too. I had a little first aid kit and a small radio that ran on batteries, flashlights and extra batteries. I had sleeping bags and blankets and pillows stacked and ready to pick up and put in the car.

I began to be very conscious about the level of gas in my car’s tank.
If we had to evacuate I had seen the television and news articles showing long lines with waits for gas and people’s cars abandoned by the side of the road due to running out of fuel.

Especially if you live in areas that are prone to ‘weather events’ or known hazards, please consider giving yourself a huge advantage by insuring you are ready ahead of time as well as you can be.
Emergencies can happen at any time. They happen to everybody.
Being older and autistic does not mean we can not give ourselves the accommodation of being ready to react and save precious time and perhaps our own and /or our loved ones’ lives.
I do not dwell on scary thoughts surrounding these “what if” scenarios, but I have peace of mind knowing I will know what to do if the time ever comes that I am called on to act and react quickly for safety and well being of my household.
Do you need an emergency plan? How will you respond?

Who am I ???

Finding your authentic self after diagnosis


There has been much discussion lately, in the online forums I attend , about masking and finding one’s own identity.
How to drop the mask and be more authentic? How to know who I really am beneath all the adaptive and self protective behaviors I have learned over my lifetime? How do I know which parts are “real” and which parts are camouflage for self protection or ease of coping?

I was at a loss for a long time about these questions. For me a lot of these questions did not apply because as I had aged, I had adjusted my style of dress, my social behavior, my willingness to put up with discomfort, etc.
I had become more authentic to myself for the most part before I learned of my autism.

It might be a process of ageing that we become less willing to put up with social and physical discomfort or meaningless rituals or distressing social situations, or I might have been lucky to have sorted out sources of discomfort and to have allowed myself to discard those things that were most difficult and distressing to me.

I understand the need to sort it all out, and to self accommodate in order to have the best experiences that life has to offer and to eliminate pain and discomfort where we can.

May I suggest we start with the things that we find most difficult and distressing? By figuring out different ways to do things, we can eliminate at least some of the things that are hardest for us to tolerate.

I learned to avoid physical discomfort first. Stopped spending hours on clothing, hair, makeup, and worrying about being “in style” or if I looked right. Flat shoes, loose fitting clothing, easy hair cut, minimal makeup applied only for very special times. Works for me! Even within dress codes, unless a certain specific uniform is required, there is usually some leeway.



I got rid of the scratchy couch that I could not bear to sit on, the bright flickering fluorescent lights. When I lived alone I did not use TV or Radio. I now remove myself to my quiet zone if my husband wants to participate in things that drive me wild (TV and Radio for example).
I have bright clear lighting that doesn’t flicker in places where I need it for reading and close work.
I stopped forcing myself to go to concerts, listening to podcasts or videos, trying to interact in large groups (4 or more is a large group to me), stopped going to restaurants, shopping malls, and other places that caused my sensory struggles to make me anxious and put me in ‘stampede mode”. What was the point?
If things like wedding receptions, anniversary parties, retirement parties, etc send you into panic or meltdown, consider a congratulatory card, note, email, or phone call along with polite regrets.
( you don’t have to explain, just say you are sorry you missed their big day but wanted to send congratulations or whatever message you’d like to give).


I found new ways to get a lot of things done, adapting them to my sensory struggles so that I no longer suffered loud noises, chaotic surroundings, etc.

In replacing those old painful experiences I found joy in solitary walks in nature, taking photographs, doing crafts, listening to my choice of music (peaceful or upbeat and not dissonant, no lyrics since I can’t readily process spoken or sung words), I found the ‘real’ me.

I lost a lot of anxiety and anguish by simply declining invitations to loud parties, noisy social gatherings such as dinners in restaurants, classrooms, malls, etc and substituting meeting with one or 2 people for quiet shared activities.

It may require others in your life to make adjustments too, or you might need to compromise to keep peace, but I urge you to find your most distressing activities and find ways to eliminate them or change them to things that provide pleasure or at least reduce discomfort.

Change clothing, change shopping habits, change the way you socialize or interact with others, change decor or arrangements within your home to accommodate your worst struggles. Many of us have it in our power to make adjustments that can make life so much better. You do not have to do anything one certain way, or in many cases you might not have to do it at all.

Sometimes we need to just stop and consider alternatives. Change can be scary, but taken in little bites, and not all at once, sometimes changes can bring about a lot of relief and comfort in exchange for the pain, anxiety and frustration.

What can you do, one step at a time to remove painful experiences from your life and to substitute or build new and pleasant experiences for yourself?

What happened to all the autistic children?

They grew up to be adults!


Awareness is rising about autism and most people have heard of autism. Autism is primarily thought of as a children’s issue in the eye of the general public. What happens when these kids grow up? What happened to all the children who grew up before autism was commonly diagnosed in kids? They are now autistic adults!
If the CDC is right, there are well over 4 million autistic adults in the United States alone, and most of us have never suspected we are autistic.

How do we find autistic adults today?

Autistic people are more likely to be suicidal.

Autistic people are more likely to be victims of crime.


Autistic people have a higher rate of depression and anxiety.

Autistic people account for about 10 percent of admissions for treatment in rehab centers for alcohol and drugs ( compared to 1 percent of the general population admitted) This is truly stunning when you understand that autism is believed to affect 2.2 percent of the general population.

Autism may account for up to 10 percent or more of the homeless population.

Autism may be involved in those admitted to jails and prisons although very little or no research has been done specifically on autism. Intellectual disability in general has been studied as a factor in prison populations and shown to be present in higher than normal levels among the general population.

Autistic people tend to have poorer health and to die younger. Life expectancy in some studies is as low as 38 years. Other studies say around 58.

From these statements one can see how knowledge of autism would be particularly useful to certain groups. Doctors and health care workers of all types, law enforcement professionals, social workers, can you name others?

Diagnosis of autism as an adult can change lives. Self understanding is one of the keys to finding a new life amid common social struggles. Autistic people seem to have more than our share from a statistical reporting level at the very least. I can not tell you the huge difference my understanding of my own late diagnosis has made in my mundane and every day life. I can only imagine how useful such self knowledge can be to those struggling with such difficult issues in their lives, and how useful it would be to know and understand about how autism may have been involved in so many lives of pain and hardship.
I am reading of mandatory screening for autism in new hospital admissions for suicidal behaviors. I am reading of mandatory screening in clinical situations for care of those struggling with addictions.
I am grateful that professionals in some places are using today’s understanding of autism to help recognize and diagnose autistic adults. So much more needs to be done. Please help spread the word.

Autism executive function

Getting things done


Disorganized, lazy, procrastinator, negligent, sloppy, messy, always late,
late bills, late for appointments, late for work, cluttered, dirty, overwhelmed!

This is the life of many autistic adults. Although we love details, many of us need help with every day life due to struggles with executive function. Executive function is the part of us which is used to organize, start a project and follow it to completion, to do basic household chores in a regular and frequent manner, to follow up on paperwork , balancing a check book, paying bills, keeping files so that we can find important records when we need them ( or in case we need them). Executive function is getting work done in an orderly way and keeping up with due dates, project deadlines, keeping within guidelines or following directions.

There are many things that can contribute to our struggles with executive function. Like everything in a spectrum, there are some very vague areas of functioning from deep struggles with everything or not needing much help if any. Struggles with executive function are not diagnostic of autism, but many of us (autistic folk) need help sorting it out one one level or another.

Proprioceptive difficulties can add to our burdens… how do we know and recognize when to do any specific job? How far should I go with cleaning? Quick wipe down? Deep clean? How often?

The ability to even begin a project can be held back by several different issues. We could have Demand avoidance, performance anxiety, learned helplessness, troubles with memory either or, or both short or long term. There may be need to see an occupational therapist to help devise strategies that are useful to assist functioning levels. Psychologists or other therapists may be able to help with the anxiety, helplessness, and avoidant behaviors.

Some of us are great at finding details, but not at sorting them or ranking them in a way that can be useful. We might need help deciding which details are important and which are of less importance, and ranking them as priorities.


Struggles vary and each of us will need help with different things.
I might know I should do the dishes and clean the bathroom, vacuum, do laundry, change the sheets, etc. but how do I know when to do these things, and have I learned how? I needed to learn each of these tasks individually and was fortunate to have been taught much of it as a child. I had to get books on household administration and read them, advice on auto care, information on lawn care, household maintainence and how frequently to have things like the furnace serviced, etc. There are lots of informational resources on line! We can ask others to teach us or help us sort out the details of almost anything. We do not have to struggle along and make do, there are usually resources available.

With autism, we can break each individual job down to its smallest components.
Naming Tools needed for each job, and supplies needed. ( how do we choose them?) Then we learn how to go about doing each task. How to use the washing machine( what kinds of things go in the wash water, cleaners, brighteners, scent, softeners?) and hang clothing to dry, our use the dryer ( do I use dryer sheets?) How do we treat stubborn stains and spots? How do we fold the clothing and do we have a single certain place to put it every time ? It is more complicated than it may seem. If we missed those lessons as children, we need to find a way to learn them today. The same for every single thing we do to take care of ourselves and our possessions, and our households.



A project such as “housecleaning” can overwhelm us until we learn to break it down into small steps.. instead of “cleaning the kitchen” as a job, we can break it down to small tasks. Collect all the trash and take the garbage out. Wash the dishes. Put away food/spices and utensils. Do we have one specific place where each item belongs? clean the counters and cabinets, wash the floor. We learn individual things like cleaning the oven and cleaning the fridge as separate tasks and make sure they go on our list of things we don’t need to do daily, but less frequently. we can use lists, schedules, electronic devices, calendars, reminders in the form of post it notes or a cell phone that might call you back and remind you.

The same goes for individual paperwork tasks… do we know where we keep supplies, what supplies do we need? Where will we work (desk, kitchen table, ???) Do we have adequate light? What dates do we need to be aware of? Bills and other deadlines can not be ignored, but must be planned for and this is something that we can learn. Many management techniques are available, from credit, debit, electronic banking, using an accountant, etc. If you don’t feel you can do it yourself, please ask for help. We can get easily overwhelmed or frustrated, and letting these things go can cause such major problems.


If you are not able to sort executive function issues on your own, there is no shame in reaching out to get help from others or to rely on paying others to make sure some of this stuff gets done. I must point out that I do not know what resources are available in other countries, I am speaking from the perspcective of a person living in the USA in a small and relatively poor and rural community.

I suspect some places have nothing at all to help. In this case, talking to others and asking how they handle specific issues may get some guidance or insight.

Who do we go to for help? Talking to a friend, family member, therapist, social service agency, your doctor or minister, and explaining your struggles can get suggestions, help you find ideas the might work for you, and get referral to others who can help if they can not. Many areas have senior citizens agencies set up to help seniors with daily living struggles, senior centers usually have information services. government agencies, on city, county, state levels may have programs to help seniors with issues of daily living, including cleaning, keeping appointments, food plans/ meals or food programs, etc. If you need help, there is no shame in asking for it.

Millions of autistic adults

undiagnosed in the USA today.

Per the USA’s Center For Disease Control (CDC) there are 5,437,988 autistic adults as described by those being over age 18 upward in the USA today. CDC claims this statistic as 2 percent of today’s population in the USA. Census numbers after 2020 may drive that number still higher.

A notice posted April 27, 2020 claims the CDC has determined these numbers so that states can be aided in budgeting and planning funds, etc. regarding diagnosis and support (“treatment”) for autistic adults. All states now require insurance plans to cover diagnosis and supportive therapies for autistic adults. Children ageing out of the system, which used to close at the age limit of 18, are now going to be supported as adults as well.

The happy side effect of parents of today’s early diagnosed children’s and young adults’ activism ( this was entirely unintentional, I am sure within myself) is the new availability this could give older autistic adults in this country for access to diagnosis and support.
Support plans will soon be in place for adult autistic folks. Will elders once more be overlooked as focus is on the younger generations, with most Americans never suspecting the hidden millions of autistic adults struggling without diagnosis and support that many so desperately need?

Educators of those already practicing diagnosis and those now just learning how to diagnose and recognize autism must learn how autism displays differently in all adults and how diagnosis of adult females may be more complicated than today’s standard diagnostic criteria.


Statistics posted by the CDC show that males ( children) are still diagnosed at much higher rates than females.

There are no known statistics on how many adults have been diagnosed, or the proportion of males to females who have received late diagnosis.

I see the CDC’s post as a ” first light ” showing in the attempts to find diagnosis for all age and gender groups who have struggled lifetimes with autism and never knew, never had help, never suspected.

I have been feeling frustrated and discouraged lately. My personal plans to offer local talks and information to local groups likely to encounter un-diagnosed autistic elders has been completely shut down by Covid restrictions.
Now I am considering a different, possibly more effective approach to gaining more diagnostic and support structure for older adults with autism.
College classrooms are the places that need to offer more information about autism and how it presents in adults and the elderly. Professional groups for individual practices need to be alerted to the presence of adult autistic people. Political entities who plan and portion out those huge budgets need to know about adult autism. The list of places to raise awareness is practically limitless!

As a group, older autistic adults need to speak out about finding diagnosis, and need to bring attention to the need for support, to organize much as the parents of autistic children have.

If population statistics are correct, the adults in the USA who are autistic out number the children who have been diagnosed up to age 18 .

Time to speak up and ask for educated diagnostic and support systems.. Laws for insurance coverage have changed. Colleges and other schools need to be aware and make changes to provide for the future.

Baby boomers will all be over the age of 65 by the year 2030, just 10 short years from now. Will elderly autistic populations get the support they/we will need as they/we age and rely on others for our medical and physical decline as we grow older?

Will young adults “ageing” into the system get the support they need? CDC has taken the first step by providing numbers and an “authoritative” source of information on which individual states will be basing plans now required by law.

Many of us will be watching with interest.
If we are able, most of us ( ageing adults who are autistic, whether formally diagnosed or not) can help raise awareness and place social pressure by making lots of noise to legislators, planners, providers. Call, text, write letters, email, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, contact local TV or radio outlets…. whatever you can do, we need each other right now.
The demand is there, we know it, but I am not sure that those in the places we need to reach are hearing us. Please do what you can!