WHY?

If autism had a mantra, this might be it. One word in my vocabulary is used more than any other to help me understand my world.

I wonder if that question could become part of diagnosis tools for those who screen for autism?

When I was young, I remember I asked why until everybody was just sick of the question. It was considered challenging and belligerent as a response coming from a child. Why should I do this? Why did you do that? Why questions have always been a big part of my life. I have even met others who agree they love to ask and find the answers to why questions. (now I suspect some of those folks might be autistic too!)

“Why” is a quest for information and understanding.
“Why” questions are:
Looking for reasons, facts, patterns or rules behind the statement, request, or directions, behaviors in others.
Why questions look for basis of intent, factual information, structure, parameters, or something to anchor understanding of my world upon.

I do not understand much intuitively or by ‘reading’ physical signs of emotions
or seeing the “big picture” from things going on around me.

” Why” is an honest seeking for information to help me understand.


This is as true today as it was in my childhood.

I use that word “why” so many more times daily than any other word in my vocabulary.
I love to find people who want to ask the same questions about topics I am interested in, and to try to pick things apart to find the answers.
I love to ask trusted companions why that guy said or did something just now, or why the group thinks certain ways to proceed are proper.
Why was that lady offended or angry when I said or did (whatever it was- I do this a lot!) ???
Many times I do not have a companion or a book or a therapist, a feedback or replay button to gain more information.
I must struggle to find the answer to my “why “questions alone in order to make sense of my world.

If somebody asks you why, please interpret it as a search for deeper understanding, and not as a challenge to your authority, your status, your person in any way.

If it comes from an autistic person, please understand that WHY is my most powerful tool to use with others to help my comprehension and fill in the blanks missing with my sometimes impeded processing of the information available to others just by observation.

I do wonder if a person screening for autism, especially in older people , might find a way to see if the very frequent use of the word “why” is common to the autistic population.

The Spectrum is probably not what you think it is

A new blog by C.L. Lynch on the Aspergian is being shared

https://theaspergian.com/2019/05/04/its-a-spectrum-doesnt-mean-what-you-think/

frequently by the autistic communities I participate in. I it a great and eloquent way to explain the endlessly varied expressions of autism in the human population. I wish so many people I know could have access to it and read to understand more about autism.

I don’t think I can add a thing to it, please just read and understand.

Diagnosis attempts continue

Yet another attempt to find somebody who understands adults, more specifically OLD adult women with autism.

This struggle is rather the norm for adults seeking diagnosis in the USA rather than an uncommon report.

I am blessed to have insurance that will help, but it still will pay for only a small portion of the diagnostic fees, and will not pay, of course, for all of the travel and personal expenses entailed in attempts to find somebody qualified and willing to work with older adult autism diagnosis processes.
The ability to travel or to absorb expenses not covered by insurance is non existing for so many adult elderly.

The best hope for ageing populations with autism is to familiarize the medical and supportive communities with autism struggles and the ways this might present itself in older adults. (We who have not had the advantages of diagnosis and support in youth, and who have largely had to struggle through life with little understanding of all the ‘whys’ surrounding our varied forms of disability and how those have affected us all our lives. )


I had talked briefly with my GP (general practitioner) DR about my search for diagnosis and she agreed she could not help, did not know of anybody who worked with adult subjects. She noted the input from my previous unsuccessful attempt with the neurologist.

Evidently the following/second attempt at diagnosis psychologist’s appointment notes were not forwarded to her as I requested, perhaps pending my diagnostic appointment which never happened due to extreme illness on the part of the psychologist.

The GP Dr has been aware of my struggles with anxiety and depression, and had prescribed meds for me about a year ago. It helped with my mood, and I was able to experience time with no anxiety, but at the cost of sleeping 4 or 5 hours during the day and at least 10 hours each night. I was sedentary and my weight shot up 25 lbs in a 2 month period. We decreased dosage but I was still lethargic and feeling unhealthy in spite of a less anxious outlook on life. I made the decision to go off the meds.
Anxiety is far less since I retired, and my understanding of how to control situations that might call up stress or distress (by avoiding them!) has helped greatly to reduce every day anxiety. Depression seems to be lifting as my feelings of being helpless to deal with so many day to day situations (mostly involving other people) have been fewer.

I saw the GP for my yearly check up yesterday and after my explanations about struggles with communication (which she has experienced with me herself, losing patience when i tried to talk to her and ask questions in the past) she has become more empathetic, or my perception of her recognizes this in her, where in previous encounters that factor seemed to be missing.

Dr GP agreed ( after some verbal wrangling and misunderstanding on both of our parts but mostly mine), to proceed with referring me to the Adult Autism diagnosis clinic in another state. It will entail a long drive (over 8 hours) and overnight stays both before and after the day of testing/examination. I will learn more when the clinic calls me to gather information and set up an appointment.
I have read the books the Autism diagnosing doctor has written about elderly autistic people and how diagnosis differs from standard diagnostic procedures for youngsters.
I have struggled recently to listen to a podcast interview with her. (my auditory processing is not very good) and I am sure she will either be able to pick my much-adapted autism out or tell me I am not autistic with accuracy.

This will be the ‘last stop’. If diagnosis is not autism I will have to look elsewhere to understand all the things that learning about autism seems to have answered for me. I can not ask my very supportive spouse to continue to invest our retirement dollars in a quest that will be of no financial benefit to anybody, and will only confirm what I am sure of in my own mind and heart. ( the benefit of official diagnosis for me being credibility as an autism advocate).
I will no doubt discuss the appointment and everything surrounding it in more detail as things fall into place for the event to happen.
Mean time I worry.

The neurologist of my first diagnosis attempt told me I was not autistic with an aura of almost gloating smugness, and the emotional devastation I felt because of his descriptions of my so called “other diagnoses” still gives me anxiety and dread.
I know his knowledge (or lack thereof) of autism was from the 1960’s-70’s when autism was not understood as well, and was not accurate, yet the damage done through his assigning so many other labels of impairment/mental illnesses had/ and still has me shaken to the core. The childhood and early adulthood me believing I am wrong and bad about everything surfaces and remains strong when I think about this, it is so easy to slip into the old habits of my approach to life for the first 65 years – all my fault!!!



One small part of me is fearful this will happen again.

So many people, women especially, in some of my on line autistic groups report having been given multiple labels for serious mental disorders and having been treated sometimes for years, for these disorders with little to no success, drugs and therapy simply compounding struggles, making one inert, or actually making things worse.


Society and medicine are just beginning to understand autism and how to recognize it, especially in aged persons who have had to learn coping mechanisms on their own, and to find their own way. I look forward to seeing adult diagnosis and understanding of autism before I die. I think it is coming. The more we can do to raise awareness of adult autism and help establish criteria and availability of information to diagnosing and supporting entities, the sooner this will become reality.

Assumed incompetence

patronized in a whole new way …


Now to report on something that has changed in my life experience. For several years now, with my graying hair and evident age I have been “patted on the head” metaphorically, being called “honey”, “sweetie”, “dear” and other endearments by complete strangers, usually younger women. It makes me want to bite somebody, just to show I am maybe not such a “sweetie” after all. Of course there is a world of thoughts and ideas, fantasies and speculation, and another world that often doesn’t intersect in what one would actually do. Fantasy can be a comfort some time. I have adjusted to the endearments and tend to simply ignore them. It is just proof that they don’t know me very well… right? Are they attempting to show good will and friendliness? hmmmm.

But I have noticed something new since I have discovered I am autistic. I am open about my autism and make light off and on of some of my struggles. I have this blog, which I share with the public in hope of helping others who are not yet diagnosed to find the peace of understanding themselves and others in knowing how autism affected them in youth and in their daily living. I willingly answer any questions I get from others when they learn I am autistic. One way to overcome stigma is to educate others.
On learning I am autistic, there are some folks who seem to immediately assume I am therefore incompetent to make decisions, to perform certain functions, to have any sort of judgement or understanding of things in this world which I have long been familiar with.

I am so old that my high school class just celebrated its 50th anniversary of graduation. There have been reunions before, and I have not participated.
Most of my memories of high school are of being mocked, bullied, socially isolated, and other non- successful social interactions.
I really had no desire to revisit those memories or to interact with those individuals who inflicted them.
When the announcement was made of the 50th anniversary celebration, there was also a form forwarded to fill out, asking class members to share what life has brought them in the past 50 years and to keep others informed.
I had filled out these forms before for the 10th, 25th anniversary etc. .
This time instead of the usual progress report, I asked that the link to my blog be included.
The reaction was interesting. ” Oh my what a blog, how brave of you to share your struggles, I am so proud of you.” This from somebody who I never had any interactions with at school and have no personal relationship with at all!
Then the question, not once but twice. “are you sure you want to do this?”
Implied was the idea that I would be ashamed to share this information about my autism with my former classmates, or that somehow I would damage myself or my personal image among my peers. It would be made public! Oh NO!
Yes, I assured them that I did indeed intend for my public blog to be publicly shared with all of the persons on the classmates list. I want as many people to be aware of un-diagnosed autism in the older generations as possible. I see this as an opportunity to share the benefits of diagnosis. Knowing I am autistic has been healing in a way that no other event of my life has come close to.

I am getting metaphorical and verbal ” pats on the head” and “aren’t you special” treatment now from others I am interacting with. I tend to just leave these comments alone, too, and attribute their reactions simply to attempts to be kind and to their ignorance of autism in general.

It is interesting that even though I was a social pariah in many ways before I learned I am autistic, I was not automatically treated as though I was also incompetent in general. This assumption of stupidity or lack of judgement does not sit well with me, it is a new experience and tends to make me feel crabby when it happens. So far I see it as well meaning ignorance. Perhaps that is better than the active hostility and aggression I experienced throughout most of my life.


The label of being autistic seems to have changed people’s perceptions and added an automatic layer of disdain or contempt for my ability to think. Yes, stigma!

Just shows there is need for not only autism awareness and education as to what autism actually ‘is’ in its many forms, but also need for acceptance. Hoping to open and win minds one person at a time.
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Tomorrow I will be asking my GP for a referral to another autism specialist. Anxiety building. Subject /topic for a new blog page soon.

Autism as a GIFT?

I will have to be convinced of that!

There is division among autistic folk and much discussion currently about autism’s gifts. Some say autism is a gift! I see this as backlash against stigma and as part of the “think positive thoughts” school of ideas. I understand it is a way to celebrate diversity and to encourage sensitivity and to open minds.

I also view this “you are not disabled, you are gifted” as a form of invalidation and a way of glossing over the struggles that the vast majority of autistic people must deal with. Those of us fortunate enough to be able to argue these concepts amongst ourselves might be losing track of so many of our autistic brothers and sisters struggling in care facilities, institutions, and needing major supports in every day living.

I deeply believe that every life has intrinsic value of its own, regardless of ability or disability.

I believe that it is important to recognize talent and giftedness, all the forms of “otherness” that life offers us as individual human beings, but I believe in being honest, too.
Many of us do not have obvious or “useful to society” gifts.
Are we of less value?

Many of us struggle and struggle deeply, and this also needs to be respected and acknowledged.

I ( or any human) am not my disability, anybody may have deep struggles.
Many have extremely difficult struggles, appalling and daunting struggles in simply surviving another day, any and all of which are not recognized, but swept under that metaphorical rug when I(or any human) am told my struggles are actually a gift.

If I (or any human) am less able to do certain tasks, think certain ways, behave according to certain standards, do I have less value than those who have the gift of having those abilities?

Does an individual who has no special skills or lacks ability to use certain parts of the brain and/or body have less value? I think not.

I am losing track of the number

of attempts to find somebody who is competent and willing to provide a diagnosis.

Late last week ( Friday). I contacted the autism department of our state’s largest medical teaching school. The form required to be filled online included a space for explanation of my problem and what it was I wanted of the university.

The online form I filled out was set up in such a way that I could ask referral to psychology, neurology, or autism departments. It also gave an option for “I don’t know” ( which I want). I explained that I was elderly and was seeking autism diagnosis. The form asked name, email, and phone number and asked how I would like to be contacted.
I said that I would provide the mandatory phone number but because of processing and social issues my preferred method of contact was through email.

I enclosed a link to this blog which explains exactly why I want a diagnosis and how hard it has been to find somebody competent to do the necessary screening.
Monday afternoon we came home to a telephone message spoken rapidly by a soft voiced woman with some sort of speech impediment or speaking through a distorting phone speaker.. I had to listen to the message several times to understand what she said. ” She could answer all my questions, just call this number!”

I called yesterday morning to be confronted with an automated phone menu. This button for this department, this button to choose who to leave a message for, this button to call the operator… The caller had not left her full name, her title, or her extension number. I hung up.

After noon yesterday (Tuesday) I got a phone call from the same woman, a little easier to understand than her message if I listened very closely. I asked one or two very specific questions and was put on hold both times and made to listen to tinny wavery music of one finger plucking a piano very very slowly, to the point that i dreaded hearing the next note… I waited about 3 minutes the first time. No, there was no availability for such diagnostics there, but I could be referred.
Did they have anybody with experience in diagnosing the elderly for autism?
Any experience diagnosing or working with women? (I asked)
OH I was paying cash? My insurance was not acceptable (in system) for them but it would be around $2000. Just a moment please. (their focus seemed to be on getting payment rather than helping me get the services I needed, this is a rule rather than an anomaly, I am finding)

Back on hold. I hung up after 5 minutes. The plinky- tinny piano notes drove me to higher anxiety. Why in the world would they use that sort of music when putting somebody on hold for a psych department???? aaaugh!
She called back. It would be $3600 to get an assessment there, did I want to go ahead? No answer about my questions regarding experience, no answers regarding any of my own questions. No, never mind. “sorry about that”.

I am very frustrated ” sorry about that”
” You could try getting a referral from your doctor” ( Dr did not know of anybody nor did the huge medical association she works for have any Dr available for this).
“you could call your insurance company and they could recommend somebody” I had done this long ago and there was nobody in their system.
I said never mind, thanks, and just hung up the phone.
Another exercise in how to find somebody to help with diagnostic testing for autism. Or how not to. So frustrating and depressing. My autistic perseveration is coming in handy, I am not ready to give up yet.

I search the internet for hours, many days of the week, trying to find new (to me) information or perspectives on autism.
I recently came across a pdf. presentation from 2012 regarding the ageing autistic population and how the USA will be needing to prepare for us, about how to recognize us, and about those of the earlier generations who had no access to diagnosis as children or even young adults. I plan to contact the author of this pdf. It has almost everything which I want to cover and points I want to make in presentations. Perhaps if she is willing to spend a bit of time with me in discussion she will also have a name or two to refer me to for possible diagnosis. The search goes on. I grow tired. Time for a bit of self care, rest, and doing something completely different for a while.

Roadblock, lesson learned

The time came to pack for the appointment for my assessment.
I knew that I liked this doctor and had confidence in his knowledge and experience, and in my ability to communicate effectively with him. I have been anxious for weeks now, hoping I had finally found a Dr who knew and understood autism.
The first meeting he indicated that he thought I had autistic characteristics but he wanted to make sure some of them had not been caused by early childhood trauma or other conditions.

He was interested in interviewing my spouse for clues to my earlier ‘self’ since both my parents are long gone and my siblings are not available.
We filled out forms without discussing them, to be compared and discussed together with the doctor.

We set out the night before to stay at a motel nearby rather than travel 4 hours for the 9AM appointment that morning.
Restless night in a strange place. Anxiety rising.

We presented ourselves at the reception desk next morning , saying we had an appointment for 9AM with DR_________ .
The receptionist looked stunned.
“DR ________? Surely not, he has not been here for weeks!”

Our turn to be stunned. It turns out that the Dr had surgery shortly after my April appointment and had not recovered.

The person who had cancelled his other appointments missed the entry for mine, perhaps because there were empty pages in his appointment book between early April when I had been there, and July. ???

I am saddened to think of his family and think of all the good he did for so many people, and I wish them peace and comfort. Of course it was not spoken directly, but I got the impression they don’t expect him to recover.
I am upset for them and also for myself. I am disappointed and still adjusting to the fact that I will need to look once more for a Doctor who is familiar with adult autism and diagnosing old ladies. A rare bird indeed.

The lesson learned (and it is obvious in hindsight) is to call ahead and confirm any appointment which is out of town before heading to the meeting.