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LostButFound
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06 Nov 2021, 5:21 pm

Hi. I'm a 48 year-old male. I have always known I was different, but didn't know why. I always wanted to be around people, and in high school I had quite a few friends. But I always felt like I had to hide who I was inside. I quit school when I was seventeen because I felt so stressed there. I got a G.E.D. and took the ACT and went to college. I lasted for three semesters. I could handle the work; I couldn't handle the stress. So I went to work. I got along with everyone and most people liked me, but I could never be myself. I have suffered some emotional abuse by a couple of people I thought cared about me. I quit my job after seven years because of extreme burnout. I lost touch with most of my friends from high school because I didn't have the energy to keep pretending I was like them. I pretty much gave up on life then.
Fast-forward a couple of decades. I had lost my grandparents and my mother; they were my closest family and support structure. When covid happened, my life barely changed (except that I stopped going to the grocery; I felt this was an improvement :P ).
On Tuesday, I was watching videos on youtube when I noticed one that was titled something like "Could you be Autistic and not know it?". On a lark, I clicked on it. So many things lined up with me that I had to watch more of the creator's videos ( I believe it was AspergersFromTheInside). I watched a video called "What it feels like to be Autistic" or somesuch.
For the first time in my life a heard someone describe what it felt like to be me. I had tears streaming down my face. I started taking online Autism tests. Everyone of them told me it was highly probable that I was Autistic/Asperger's. I took them again trying to answer more moderately. Still the results were highly likely on the spectrum. I did them again just going with my first gut instinct, trying not to overthink it (something my oldest friend often accuses me of). Same results. So I did it again, this time trying to answer the opposite of how I felt. That result was something like Few Autistic Traits - highly unlikely to be on the spectrum. Lol
I talked to my therapist about it (her specialty isn't Autism), but she encouraged me to explore more. Since Tuesday I have been unable to stop thinking about this. I pace. My mind won't quit turning things over and over. I read and read. Things that I thought were uniquely personal traits were common to people on the spectrum. The "Little Professor" phenomenon. Verbose, unusually formal or oddly phrased language. Obsessiveness and difficulty switching tasks. Becoming extremely upset when routines are interrupted. Not understanding how others feel emotionally. Approaching social situations intellectually rather than just feeling it. The way I prepare and practice conversations only to have my brain get scrambled in the moment, and then obsessively analyze what I had said and what I forgot to say, over and over.
I didn't know other people felt this way, did these same things. I had given up SO LONG AGO on ever finding someone or somewhere I fit in with. And so that's why I'm here. I want to find my tribe! This tiny part of me, that I didn't know still existed, wants so much to reach out and find people like me. People I can be myself with. I have forever thought something was wrong with me; that I was defective. And now I find out that I'm just the way I'm supposed to be. Those things that I thought made me a failure were things that I was never supposed to be good at. I'm not defective; I'm not a failure; I'm wired different. In some ways better.
I've never really done much communicating online. I don't do social media or post on websites. I don't even play online video games (I've loved video games since before they were cool! :lol:) because interaction makes me uncomfortable. So I hope someone here can help by pointing me to good places to meet others like myself, where my awkwardness and noobish ways won't get me judged harshly.
God this is rambling and kind of sounds like a pity-party. It isn't; I don't mean for it to sound that way. I'm excited! I feel like I'm OK, like there is a path for me, a tribe. I hope to meet them here! I've been waiting to meet you for so long! Hi!



Mountain Goat
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06 Nov 2021, 5:58 pm

Hi. I am in a similar situation on a list to be assessed and while inside me I am almost sure I must be on the spectrum, I have a kind of concern that when I am assessed that I am not, and why this is a concern is because I will be back to not having a clue who I am anymore, which is kind of where I have been for most of my life.
I have spent years of feeling like I don't fit in anywhere. Oh. And I happened to stumble upon autism from many directions at the same time a few years after I was in prayer and I asked "Lord, what's wrong with me?"
(I had had a few quite bad burnouts/breakdowns(?) by then but I did not know what they were called. I could not go to a doctor as I just did not know how to describe how I felt. For most of my life I have had shutdowns and did not know how to describe them. I found out what they were from an ex. moderator of this site. Past doctors did not know what they were. I had been back and fore for most of my life trying to despeately find out what was happening to me as they were interfearing with my life).
I joined this site about a month after I found myself on the list to be assessed, as I did not know they were called shutdowns and I was desperately trying to find out what was happening to me. I am now in my late 40's. About five months after I joined I ended up having the largest burnouts/breakdowns(?) yet (Each one had hit me more severly then the last), and while I noticed that before, after hitting a few in the past, that it took a year or two of having no income and relaxing to recover from each one, that when I did try to work again, I was only able to do a small mount of hours on temporary jobs that I knew the work back to front and if it was not foe safety, I could do it with my eyes closed as I knew thw work so well (Connected to one of my special interests... I did not know my hobbies were called that until I was on this site sharing details and someone said they found my "Special interest". :D ).
Anyway. Here I am on a list to be assessed. Have not worked since the last burnout.



Double Retired
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06 Nov 2021, 6:51 pm

Welcome to WP! It sounds like this should be a good place for you.

I went through many of the same feelings you did. Maybe at different ages.

When I was quite young I assumed I was like everyone else. Later I realized people were not treating me like everyone else and I had no idea why (except that it might be related to IQ). Having the world selectively pick on me seemed increasingly unfair. By my teen years I definitely felt separate from society...not antisocial, just asocial. Socializing remained a problem but otherwise I did OK. It was not 'til my 50s that I concluded there might actually be some diagnosable difference between me and everyone else, but I had no clue what it could be.

If you had suggested Autism I would have rejected it outright and thought you were either rude or stupid. I knew virtually nothing about Autism but I was vaguely aware of Rain Man and I was nothing like that!

I was 64 when my Dad happened to observe a little boy was doing the same "weird" things I used to do. This confused me...that little kid's family suspected he might be Autistic. (I must've made quite an impression on Dad. He saw the kid in 2018 and recognized "weird" things I apparently did in the 1950s!)

That clue caused me to read up about Autism...and IT FIT! Shortly before my 65th birthday I received my formal diagnosis:

Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 1 (Mild)
With a note that I also satisfied the criteria previously associated with Asperger's Syndrome. I insisted we get champagne on the way home from the Psychologist's office. And I got more when the written evaluation arrived in the mail.

Oh. I started using computers in 1971, studied them in college, and have retired from two jobs in computers. And I don't trust them. I surf the web but try to avoid doing personal finances over it (though I do shop on it--with a separate credit card). I do limited e-mail and the only social platform I use is WP.

Do you think you will pursue a formal diagnosis? (Note: Neither a formal diagnosis nor even a suspicion of Autism is required for WP!) It sounded to me like you are in the U.S. in which case the process for getting an assessment is a function of your healthcare insurance. If you are in the UK, however, it is completely different...ask Mountain Goat about that!

And, absolutely, welcome!


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LostButFound
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07 Nov 2021, 8:42 am

Hi Mountain Goat and Double Retired! Thanks for sharing and the kind words!
I'm not sure whether I'll seek a formal diagnosis or not. Part of me wants to, and part of me, like Mountain Goat said, is afraid I won't be on the spectrum. And then where am I? This is the first time in my life I have made sense to me. I totally identify with the question "What's wrong with me?". I've been asking myself that most of my life. I never would have suspected Autism either. But when I heard from someone on the spectrum how it felt, then, like Double Retired, said "It Fit". I have seen that one of the symbols for ASD is the puzzle ribbon, and that is exactly how I felt - like I had found the missing piece of the puzzle of me. Now I'm thinking that there isn't anything "wrong" with me, just different. I wish I had known sooner. I could have leveraged my strengths and accepted the areas where I was less able. And I wouldn't have had to continuously punish myself for what I perceived as personal failings.
I never realized how much it took out of me trying to "fit in". The burnouts and shutdowns I had experienced seemed to me to be flaws in my character. Now that I understand, I feel like I can forgive myself. At the risk of sounding arrogant I've always thought I had a pretty spectacular brain, even if I never learned how to properly apply it. Now it feels like I was just trying to use it in ways it wasn't designed for. And it did a pretty good job for as long as it could. (Is it weird to be talking about my brain and myself as two different entities?)
I have no idea what I'm going to do now. But for the first time, I feel like I have the right information to move forward.
Thanks again for the welcome! :D



Mountain Goat
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07 Nov 2021, 9:02 am

Learn about yourself.

I reached a point where everything funneled down towards me being assessed, and I am in the long narrow tube of the funnel of waiting, and when I am assessed and on the other side, I can pick up the pieces whatever they may be, and be able to build my life back up again.

I use the funnel senario because for me everything came from many different directions at once.

The jigsaw analagy I like. I have used that myself a few times both in this walk of discovery and my walk with God where we don't see the picture until the pieces are in place.



CarlM
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07 Nov 2021, 9:38 am

Welcome to Wrong Planet and the tribe :D

It's sad that therapists don't spot adults on the spectrum very often. Don't they get any continuing education in their field? I am self-diagnosed and have been from before the spectrum started to be officially diagnosed. It would be interesting to see what your therapist has to say about the need for a diagnosis.


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Double Retired
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07 Nov 2021, 12:22 pm

LostButFound wrote:
Hi Mountain Goat and Double Retired! Thanks for sharing and the kind words!
I'm not sure whether I'll seek a formal diagnosis or not. Part of me wants to, and part of me, like Mountain Goat said, is afraid I won't be on the spectrum. And then where am I?
Whether or not you seek a formal diagnosis is a personal decision...and, as you can see on the panel for updating your WP profile, is not a condition for WP. For my part, I wanted to know. The preliminary research my bride and I did convinced us I was probably a High Functioning Autistic (it turns out that is just a descriptive colloquial term) but I wanted to be sure. Otherwise I would've always felt obligated to qualify the statement as "We think I am..." And because my symptoms were at the mild end of the Spectrum I told the Psychologist I wanted to know whether I was almost Autistic or slightly Autistic.

On WP I have learned that there are other syndromes with overlapping traits that further complicate the issue. Besides Autism Spectrum Disorder it turns out almost Autistic really is a possibility, properly called "Borderline Autism". And traits at the high end of ADHD overlap the traits of mild Autism--which confused my ADHD bride 'til I found this table. And it turns out there are a number of other conditions that may look like Autism, but aren’t.

Since my Autism is mild, I wasn't certain. Folk whose Autism is less mild could fairly have less doubt.

And, while the decision to seek an Autism assessment is a personal decision, if you decide to pursue one it gets more complicated. Your healthcare providers, insurance, and possibly your wallet all potentially are involved. It is further complicated because it appears Adult Autism assessments are not common so even finding someone to do one can be a struggle.

LostButFound wrote:
...the puzzle ribbon...
I like it, too! Be forewarned, however, opinions on that vary on WP. And a single blue puzzle piece is probably the least popular option here.

When I (the ASD guy) first looked up appropriate awareness ribbon colors for my (ADHD) bride and myself I enjoyed the conversation:

-=-=-- Me: Do you know the color for an ADHD Awareness ribbon?
-=-=-- Her: No. What is it?
-=-=-- Me: Orange.
-=-=-- Her: What color is the Autism ribbon?
-=-=-- Me: [long pause--increasing smile] It's...complicated.

And I've seen some online assertions that is the actual reason for the puzzle pattern, expressing the fact that Autism is complicated.

LostButFound wrote:
Now I'm thinking that there isn't anything "wrong" with me, just different.
Be forewarned that opinions on WP differ a lot on this...and for good reason. Some of us have mild symptoms and consider our Autism to be a difference. Others have much more severe symptoms and consider their Autism to be a terrible disability. And I guess we're all right. Autism is complicated. Science doesn't understand it. And it could well be an umbrella term encompassing a variety of significantly different conditions that happen to share some symptoms. And things are probably further complicated by how one is treated when young.

Oh, I'm firmly convinced my Autism is a difference. In some ways my abilities are impaired, but in some ways improved.

LostButFound wrote:
I wish I had known sooner.
I was happily, securely retired and 64 years old when I was diagnosed. My viewpoint was that the diagnosis wasn't about problems ahead of me but rather about ones behind me (which up to that point I had no explanation for).


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Last edited by Double Retired on 07 Nov 2021, 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tim_Tex
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07 Nov 2021, 12:38 pm

Welcome to WP!


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AnonymousAnonymous
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07 Nov 2021, 5:06 pm

Welcome to Wrong Planet! :D


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autisticelders
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09 Nov 2021, 6:46 am

welcome! It was a huge relief to figure out my own autism and to learn that there were others like me out there. two main things came out of this. Knowing I am not alone, and knowing that all the bad stuff for the previous 68 years was not "all my fault" for not doing better. What a relief! Glad you are with us.


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Mona Pereth
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29 Nov 2021, 5:50 am

CarlM wrote:
Welcome to Wrong Planet and the tribe :D

It's sad that therapists don't spot adults on the spectrum very often. Don't they get any continuing education in their field?

They do get continuing education, but I suspect they have wide latitude as to what kinds of courses they may take to fulfill their continuing education requirement. There probably isn't any requirement that all psychotherapists must learn about autism, or about any other single particular topic. I would expect most of them to prioritize being updated on whatever their specialty happens to be.

Thus, as recently as 2006 at least, and maybe even later, there were psychotherapists and psychiatrists who just didn't "believe in" the very idea of what was then called "Asperger's syndrome."


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