New here, looking for other older autistics

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RALowe
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24 Jul 2022, 11:23 pm

I’m 70 years old and was just diagnosed with autism 6 months ago. I’m a retired professional, married for several decades, successful in many ways but always awkward in some social situations.

I’d love to connect with others with “mild” autism who can help me understand how it’s affected your life and what you’ve learned to do differently as you’ve come to understand autism better.

Thanks in advance for helping me learn about this.



jimmy m
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25 Jul 2022, 11:05 am

Welcome to Wrong Planet.

I figured out that I had Asperger's Syndrome a few years ago and it brought some meaning to my life. I have always been a little different than most people. I thought differently and in some cases this was actually an advantage.

I suffered a massive stroke a little over a year ago. But I was able to recover most of the loss. I probably lost around 2 percent of my brain cells but because the human brain has many serial circuitry it took about 20 percent of my brain offline. But I am back now. Perhaps I can fill the last 2 percent. We will see what happens in time.

Immediately after my stroke, I lost my ability to read. But not my ability to write. Strokes are such a strange thing. I also lost around 99 percent of my words. It is almost impossible to hold a conversation with only 1 percent of your words left intact. But I fought hard and I am at least at the 8th grade level now.

After my stroke, my youngest daughter bought me several books to read. I could barely read and she brought me books.

Anyways I spent the time and read a page or two each day and eventually I made some progress.

Now one of the books was rather interesting. It was about another stroke victim. The author was around 35 years old when she had a stroke. And that was perhaps 20 years ago. When she partially recovered, she came back as a totally different person. If you look at the human skull, you can see that it has two distinct sides. One on the left and one on the right. The left side has an added cellular structure and is dominant.

She wrote two books and her second book is called Whole Brain Living by Jill Bolte Taylor. It really breaks down how the human brain works. So if you are looking for answers of why you are different, this is a good book to start from.

Life is full of many mysteries. I always wanted to know why I was different and unique. Although this book is not perfect, it is at least at the 60 percent level.

Anyways welcome to the site and enjoy your time here.


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RALowe
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25 Jul 2022, 11:22 am

Jimmy, thanks for the well-thought-out reply. May you continue on your path to recovery.



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25 Jul 2022, 2:37 pm

I was 64 when I was diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level  1 (Mild). I was happily married and happily retired at that point. Unfortunately, I got the diagnosis shortly before the COVID-19 Pandemic so me and my diagnosis haven't gotten out much together, yet.

But, how has it affected my life so far?

<=>- A great sense of relief to finally understand what I had been through.
<=>- If my bride bumps against my Autistic traits I can say: "I have a doctor's note for that!"
<=>- Wrong Planet!

How has it not affected things?

<=>- Friends and family already thought I was odd. No further action required from them.
<=>- I think I have a stronger case for getting doctors to put things in writing.
<=>--Something I requested before I knew I was Autistic...and seldom got.
<=>--Now I note my Autism when requesting it...and still seldom get it.

P.S. Welcome to Wrong Planet!


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AnonymousAnonymous
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25 Jul 2022, 4:40 pm

Welcome to Wrong Planet from a fellow citizen of Portland! :)


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IMSpringer
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30 Jul 2022, 1:32 am

Hi Mr. Lowe,

I guess I am your target audience; 58 years old and diagnosed just a few months ago. I guess we technically don’t use the term anymore, but I identify as Asperger’s. Clearly on the spectrum.


I have, by and large, not been terribly successful in my life. I am pretty smart, do great in academic situations. I am very articulate, but somehow have never felt welcome among people. I was never able to develop a career where I felt safe or fit in. I suffered from terrible depression. I had huge anger issues. I finally retired at 45 on disability. By that time, I had learned I have ADD, and that ‘splained a lot, but there is so much more that it didn’t explain. Then I heard a friend talking about her autistic ex, and fireworks went off for me. She told me she’d often wondered if I mightn’t be on the spectrum. It took a while, but, long story short, here I am.


Last several years, I have worked hard to develop a way of living that makes me happy…where my choices, more and more often result in rewarding outcomes. So there is some blending of changes I am making philosophically and others that come out of learning that I have ASD and how I am to live with that.

Just the realization of what this is has lifted thousands of pounds off my back. When I notice that my actions appear to be out of synch with a situation, I can often connect it to my relationship challenges, communications challenges, my quirky sensitivities. I can think, “Oh! Right! That is something that happens with ASD”. This very often frees me to choose to act differently, or to respect some particular way in which I am different from others. I imagine it is like spear-fishing…once you get used to how the water distorts the light, you can compensate and you figure out how to hit your target.

Other things simply make sense for the first time in my life…like why my skin crawls every time my arm touches my computer power cord. Why I get so anxious when a plan goes awry. Why I always feel like I have to criticize when someone contradicts themselves, or does something different from what they had said earlier. Why I am so easily distracted from the topic at hand every time someone says something that seems to me to be inaccurate. Why I seem to feel a need to call out every out-of-place detail in every moment at every time. Why people telling me how I feel or what my motivations are, are so often miles off base.

The biggest strategy for me is self-advocacy. I read somewhere here, someone wrote that sharing that they had ASD made no difference for them in getting what they need. That hasn’t been so for me so far. Before, my requests made no sense to people. They hardly made sense to me. Now that I understand better, I can explain to people...it doesn’t matter if I tell them I have Asperger’s, or that I am neurodivergent, or that I am just wired differently. Maybe it is just the confidence I feel now. Before, I was thinking what they were usually thinking: I am weird, there is something wrong with me. I am not entitled to ask for this kind of help. Now I know that I am. I just have a left-handed brain, and I need to cut with a different pair of scissors when I am processing. Knowing that there is nothing wrong with me makes it easier for me to confidently ask for what I need, and maybe people just respond to that confidence.

There are a thousand things in my life I had already been changing…it turns out that many of these things are also really helpful for dealing with ASD. I have been exercising and dieting. I am losing weight, and my blood sugar and blood pressure are under control. I have been practicing positive thinking, mindfulness, radical acceptance, authenticity and transparency. I keep my attention on where I have power in the world—here and now, and within the scope of my abilities; and I strictly limit how much time I spend suffering over what is beyond my control.

I have been changing how I go about my day with a mind towards looking for ways to feel good about how I am spending my time. I am growing to love myself by choosing to love myself. The feeling and the action are interdependent for me. I have written out protocols for how I take care of myself when I am beset with drama. When I make mistakes, I choose to allow my consequences to be the only punishment I need in order to learn from them. I don’t criticize myself. I just do my best to practice reason, wisdom, and patience. I do the next helpful thing. I am trying to learn to listen more and talk less. Of course, I haven’t learned yet how not to answer a one-sentence question with a four-page reply…

I have been in groups that teach CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy)—I am actually just starting ACT next week, but I’m happy to answer questions about CBT and DBT. These are all actually recommended treatments for ASD as well as the ADD, and the PTSD (oh, yeah…forgot to mention that…).

And I do exactly what you are doing. I look for people on the spectrum, talk to them and get to know them. I learn how they deal and I shamelessly steal their ideas for my own use.

This is a long list of things, and I am anxious that I can intimidate people sometimes. But know that this is the result of three years of hard work. It is not something I have done overnight, or perfectly. This is something I built little by little, in baby steps. Each day, I do what I can do. I celebrate my successes, and I trust that tomorrow I will do a thing or two that I didn’t manage today.

But the upshot of all of this is that my life makes so much more sense than it ever did before. The mystery is gone from a lifetime of frustration and struggle. I am taking better care of myself than I ever have before in my life (though I still have a great deal of room for improvement). I am generally a happy person; something I have never experienced before this. I am engaged in my life, working on a project that gives me great joy, and building a growing social life.


Thanks for the great question. I hope I have said something here that you find useful.



RALowe
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01 Aug 2022, 12:24 am

IMSpringer, thank you for your amazing reply to my post. I’m going to print it out and re-read it on a regular basis; it’s SO articulate, insightful and inspiring.

And you’re only 58 years old! You have plenty of time to continue on the path of understanding yourself and finding new ways to connect with other people. You’re clearly smart and with your writing skills I suspect that you’ll surprise yourself with where you get to in the next few years.

Thanks again!



redqueenspawn
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06 Aug 2022, 6:44 pm

Hi, I just joined for exactly the reason this thread was started!

I'm 71, she/they, looking in particular to discuss aging-related issues with other elder autistics. Curious about how our types of brains experience aging, and the interface between our ways of experiencing the world and aging bodies (worsening dyspraxia, anyone?) I think we may have to write the book on this; I haven't found much info out there so far.

Also interested to discuss (with other elders) interactions with medical providers, which become much more frequently necessary as we age. I'm concerned that some of my autistic traits might be interpreted as dementia in someone my age, even though they've been here all my life.



IMSpringer
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07 Aug 2022, 7:32 am

Welcome, redqueenspawn.

he he...Do people often ask you if that is "red queen's pawn" or "red queen spawn"?

Pardons. Just wanted to welcome you and thank you for your post.

I'm not sure; I may have comments on your concerns, but I am not sure what is relevant for you. Would you like to share some of your own experiences, to give us a more specific idea of what your questions are?

I suppose I am kind of young yet at 58. But your comments make me think of my mother. She struggled with fading memory, battled cancer (caused by hormone replacement therapy). I don't think she was ASD, though my father may well have been.

I spend an inordinate amount of time interacting with health care providers, through the VA. I struggle with diabetes, blood pressure, BPD, ADD, ASD, and PTSD.

I suppose my body and mind are both aging faster than they would if I had been taking care of myself the last 35 years. I have been working hard this year to mitigate the results of my sins. Hence, my close coordination with the VA. I have been working very closely with about 10 different providers in many different departments.

My awareness of ASD is still pretty new. I have not yet had any problems around that; if anything, I have found that when I share that I am on the spectrum, my providers have all so far been very responsive and understanding.

I did have one particularly awful experience once in the emergency room--this was years ago, before the ASD diagnosis. I had suffered a lot of blood sugar crashes, and I was treated by a doctor I found to be very dismissive and judgmental. It may have been largely my own fault, though.

I have been very lucky at the VA. My providers have always been very supportive and responsive, which is pretty amazing given that their resources are often painfully limited. There have been some occasions where I have experienced their diagnostic practices to be a bit lazy or sloppy. But very little I can associate with aging or ASD. Though ASD may have been a large factor that day in the E.R.

I look forward to this discussion. Thanks again for your post.

Stay healthy,

Mark



redqueenspawn
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07 Aug 2022, 1:39 pm

IMSpringer wrote:
Welcome, redqueenspawn.

he he...Do people often ask you if that is "red queen's pawn" or "red queen spawn"?

Mark

The username is intended as a pun--you can take it either way! (The "Red Queen" of course refers to being made to run as fast as I can to stay in the same place--Through The Looking Glass)

Thanks for the welcome. And for your comments and sharing of your experiences.

My experiences--Like a whole lot of autistics, I've avoided medical providers through the years as much as I can get away with it. It's an aversive experience to go to the doctor, for a whole lot of reasons. Only now I'm older, and because of what happens to aging bodies, I have to see doctors more often.

In part, by posting here, I'm looking for suggestions for dealing with medical providers effectively. Some people I know have said that disclosing that they're autistic to a medical provider was one of the worst mistakes they've ever made. I never have (for most of my life, I didn't know it myself), and I don't intend to start now. I'll just go on pretending to be neurotypical at the doctor's office, which I can do very well.

Problems with medical providers are compounded for those of us who are female--many, many studies show that women/afab people in general, not just neurodivergent ones, are much more likely to have their valid concerns, pain, etc. dismissed by medical providers. (The same BTW is true for all People of Color, especially Black. [I am white.])

I'm also interested in finding out what others have experienced as changes in their functioning as they move into their elder years. I myself feel like I'm increasingly susceptible to sensory overload. Certainly neurotypical brains change with aging, so ours would too. But I'm guessing our changes might look different, and curious as to how others are experiencing it.



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07 Aug 2022, 1:44 pm

Continuing the healthcare experience topic...

My interactions with healthcare providers were pretty routine (mostly respiratory infections and annual checkups) until I was in my 50s. Then, because I was getting older, things sometimes became less routine and the doctors started telling me more and more non-routine stuff which I typically could not remember. In my late 50s I lucked into a Primary Care Physician who gave me stuff in writing which was immensely helpful (and I don't know if they gave everyone stuff in writing or just me because I asked).

About the time I hit 60 something "unfortunate" happened. For purely bureaucratic reasons my health insurance provider made me switch to all different doctors. And the new batch ignored my requests to give me stuff in writing! I started taking my bride to my medical appointments because there would be a better chance she would remember what they said. (Also, after the change, we had the same Primary Care Physician...whom I did not get along well with...so there my bride also sometimes served as a diplomat and/or referee.)

I was 64 when I learned I was on the Spectrum. After exploring that topic on the Internet I found the following:
<=>Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership In Research and Education (AASPIRE)*
their*
<=>AASPIRE Healthcare Toolkit
and its*
<=>"How Autism Can Affect Healthcare" document.

When I go to a medical appointment I try to take:
<=>- A written list of things I want to tell them and that I want them to tell me
<=>- A printed copy of "How Autism Can Affect Healthcare"
<=>=and a one page note flagging what in it especially applies to me:
<=+=+=>Section 2.2, Literal and precise language
<=+=+=>Section-2.4, Processing speed and real-time communication
<=+=+=>Section-3, Sensory Issues
<=+=+=>Section- 3,=>Especially, "Have only one person talk at a time"
<=+=+=>Section-4, Body Awareness, Pain, and Sensory Processing
<=+=+=>Section-5.4, Planning, organizing, and sequencing
<=+=+=>Section- 5,=>Especially, "Write out detailed step-by-step instructions."
<=+=+=>Section-6.1, Physical examinations, tests, and procedures
<=+=+=>Section- 6,=>Especially, "Give patients extra time...before they respond."

I still have trouble getting stuff in writing. :?


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nadyia
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07 Aug 2022, 2:41 pm

Hi everybody.
I'm a 51 year-old female 'ADHD sufferer'. English is not my first language --so apologies for the awkard writing-- but I am of an intellectual background. I like to read and chat on topics like political philosophy, social psychology, cultural differences, writing.

Being 51, single in a small town sometimes feels lonely, especially since this is the age one does an inventory of losses.

I am keen on making online acquaintances (not dating of course at my age), my mailbox is open.



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07 Aug 2022, 2:45 pm

nadyia, Welcome to Wrong Planet! I hope it helps you feel less lonely.


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nadyia
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07 Aug 2022, 4:35 pm

Many thanks!
I've been lurking for a while now, reading the posts from The Politics&Religion and other forums, and man, this website is high-end. I hope people won't mind my awkward english as second language- type of writing.



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13 Aug 2022, 7:54 am

Welcome to WP! :mrgreen:


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MaxE
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13 Aug 2022, 8:14 am

I'm almost 70. I'm undiagnosed but you can click on my sig for a related discussion then judge. Not sure why you chose to get diagnosed being in a similar situation to myself. I still work full time but plan to reduce my hours at the beginning of the next fiscal year after which full retirement will probably happen sooner rather than later, but with no solid plan what to do in retirement.


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