A 58 year old psychologist finds out she is Autistic

Page 1 of 1 [ 13 posts ] 

ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 63
Gender: Male
Posts: 25,864
Location: Long Island, New York

27 Feb 2021, 6:38 pm

The Unexpected Discovery At 58 Years Old That I Have Autism

Quote:
Almost two weeks ago, someone challenged a fundamental assumption I’d held about myself. This revelation has upended my world. Suddenly I feel wobbly, tentative, and not quite sure who I am.

As a licensed psychologist with over twenty years of clinical experience, I’ve considered myself an expert on matters of the psyche and personality.

My scope of knowledge includes myself. I’m an avid believer in the power of therapy and have seen my fair share of specialists over the years. If a few weeks ago, you’d asked me if I think I know myself, I would have answered affirmatively and then described me as a “sensitive extroverted introvert.”

But two weeks ago, I saw a therapist I hadn’t seen in a while. She challenged my self-definition with something so stunning that I’ve done nothing for over a week except to try and take it in, to make sense of this piece of information.

I think I’m ready to share it now.

I’m autistic.

There. I said it.

Those two words have both transformed my reality and, at the same time, have scared the living sh*t out of me.

What does it exactly mean to be autistic?

I thought I knew. When I hear that diagnosis, I imagine a young boy lost in his own world. He’s sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, spinning plates. He grunts and screams if anyone interferes with his repetitive play or tries to move him to another activity.

That’s what comes to my mind when I hear the word autism. I’d never imagined that someone like me — a formerly married psychologist with three grown sons — would be on the autistic spectrum.

had no idea I was autistic. None.

This diagnosis has come as a complete shock. One of my sons was diagnosed in his early twenties, and I suspect my father, an odd man, was on the spectrum. I never considered that this genetic condition might not have skipped me.

Two weeks ago, I saw an old therapist — someone I’d seen before. As we caught up, she stopped me and asked if I’d ever wondered if I might be neuroatypical. Stunned by her proposal, I emphatically said, “No, I’ve looked at the autism screening assessments (most based on stereotypical male symptoms). They clearly don’t fit me.”

She cocked her head, blinked, and then asked, “You sure about that?”

I stared back at her, speechless. I knew she was telling me something important, but she wasn’t going to push me. For two days, I did nothing. No research, nothing.

Slowly, I found the courage to turn to the Internet and research online the characteristics of adult women with autism. Two articles, in particular, caught my eye.

Females and Aspergers: A checklist

Samantha Craft, author of Everyday Aspergers, has created an unofficial checklist for females on the autism spectrum.

Aspienwomen: Moving towards an adult female profile of Autism/Asperger Syndrome

As I moved down each checklist, I was shocked.

Numbers have a personality for me. I like even numbers better, especially even years, although 2020 has let me down. I had high hopes for this gorgeous, even, round number.
Social chitchat confuses and bores me.
Too much noise or too much silence gives me a horrible headache, and I hate eating food that pops in my mouth, like peas or kernels of corn.
I struggle to fit in with groups, especially groups of women, who need a lot of solitude, and social events wear me out. I get a severe hangover, to the point where even my skin hurts for hours, from pushing myself too hard.
Looking at some people directly physically hurts. I can hardly bear to do it.
I much prefer texting to phone calls. And video chatting someone new takes a lot of courage and determination for me to tolerate.
I love to listen to the same song repetitively and eat the same thing for days or even weeks.


I haven’t quite known what to think. On the one hand, I’m afraid some people will see it as a convenient excuse to disregard their abusiveness. Now there’s a reason for our relationship problems. One more time, they’ll make it out to be my fault.

On the other hand, learning about this new dimension of myself feels in some ways like I've just taken off a corset that has been cinched so tight I've been barely able to breathe. For the first time in a long time, I feel a little more permission to be me — uniquely and wonderfully different.

Maybe I’m not rude when I’m the first person to leave a party. Maybe showing up was a more significant gift of myself than most people realize, and I’m showing self-respect by leaving.

Maybe taking time out of each day for solitude is a critical part of good self-care. Perhaps I don’t have to make myself do all those things that scare or intimidate me.

This diagnosis has got me reconsidering my life. It’s put how I do things from a different perspective. I’ve worked so hard to be normal. To fit in and be like everyone else. Little did I know I have been overextending myself, like a car operating in low gear all the time.

Processing this new diagnosis of autism has challenged all my assumptions about myself.

But it has also done something else. It’s demolished my previous understanding of autism. One more time, I see how narrow-minded and prejudiced I’ve been about a select group of people. This time, it was about neuroatypical people, instead of LGBTQ people or those of a different religion, ethnicity, or race.

I’m starting to realize that a whole gamut of individuals is on this spectrum. They are a creative, dynamic, engaging, and functional group of people. Autism is a much more complex condition than I’ve ever imagined. Discovering I’m a member of this group has been a game-changer.


_________________
Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity.

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


Mountain Goat
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 13 May 2019
Gender: Male
Posts: 11,257

27 Feb 2021, 7:12 pm

That is interesting.

Thanks for sharing.



Jakki
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Sep 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 6,024
Location: Outter Quadrant

27 Feb 2021, 7:32 pm

Thank you for sharing this , there are a number of late diagnosis people on this site , I have discovered . 8O


_________________
Diagnosed hfa
Loves velcro,
Quote:
where ever you go ,there you are


SharonB
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,873

28 Feb 2021, 9:48 am

Yes, Samantha Craft's list was eye-opening for me, although it took me a bit to digest it: "prolific writer" --- no, I haven't written any books ... yet. Oh, wait, that might mean my 1,000 of pages of journals, letters, essays and the books I plan to write even though I am an engineer --- that written expression is sooooooooo much easier for me and yet folks respond "I have no idea what you wrote, but..." "You ask so many questions, and..."

I'm the extroverted, ADHD, hypersensitive ASD type and once I stopped taking Samantha's list literally I was a 95% match. My AS-like friend is the introverted, depressed, hyposensitive type and she was like "meh" for every single one, so it wasn't useful that way. We're still unclear about her. Need better diagnostic tools for women who can compensate outwardly (resulting in GAD, depression and self-harm b/c of inward stress).



NaturalEntity
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 3 Jan 2021
Age: 17
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,173
Location: UK

28 Feb 2021, 2:53 pm

Oh wow, that is an interesting read.


_________________
Hans Asperger himself called autism a natural entity
Opinion polls coming to WP in 2022!


Velorum
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 11 Mar 2020
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,153
Location: Cornwall

28 Feb 2021, 5:11 pm

As someone diagnosed later in life I can relate to some of that

Interesting read - thanks for posting


_________________
ICD-10 F84.5 - Autistic


blazingstar
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 19 Nov 2017
Age: 67
Gender: Female
Posts: 4,909

28 Feb 2021, 5:45 pm

Certainly sounds a lot like my experience.


_________________
paralysis by over-analysis


Lucinda57
Emu Egg
Emu Egg

Joined: 28 Mar 2021
Age: 57
Gender: Female
Posts: 4
Location: Northern California

28 Mar 2021, 3:56 am

Thank you for this post. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I was in the military for 26 years and I think I am high functioning autistic. I looked at the checklist that you used and found that indeed I match a good 95% of the items. I find that I can identify with my autistic clients and even though I work with NT clients effectively.
My grandmother was probably high functioning autistic based on her characteristics as she was considered odd, loved detective magazines and work the same type of clothes but different colors all her life.

There needs to be more exact ways to identify high functioning autism in women. I should have realized sooner but it was never a question.



kitesandtrainsandcats
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 6 May 2016
Age: 58
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,232
Location: Missouri

28 Mar 2021, 4:19 am

Hmm, something in that sounds familiar but I can't quite pin it down,

Quote:
Introspection and self-awareness. Many women spend years trying to understand themselves, reading self-help and psychology books and wonder why they feel so different, from another planet or that the “Mothership has dropped me off on the wrong planet”.


Aspienwomen: Moving towards an adult female profile of Autism/Asperger Syndrome

https://taniaannmarshall.wordpress.com/ ... -syndrome/


_________________
"There are a thousand things that can happen when you go light a rocket engine, and only one of them is good."
Tom Mueller of SpaceX, in Air and Space, Jan. 2011


kitesandtrainsandcats
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 6 May 2016
Age: 58
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,232
Location: Missouri

28 Mar 2021, 4:29 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:


This by that author is noteworthy; https://kerrymcavoyphd.com/how-did-5-sp ... ns-autism/

Quote:
My Son’s Diagnosis of Autism

That diagnosis has blown my view of autism apart. I have since learned there are many manifestations. Not every autistic person struggles to make eye contact or avoids touch. This condition exists on a spectrum that affects broad categories of language and communication skills, sensory input, movement, and social interactions. Each autistic person has a unique presentation of the symptoms.

I think of all the specialists who have assessed D. over the years, each failing to see his disability: the pre-primary developmental school psychologist, his pediatrician, the pediatric orthopedic surgeon, his teachers, his speech therapist, and then me. We all made the same error of assuming that because D. seemed to be doing okay that he was — the problem of ableism. We failed to see his hidden struggle with social adjustment, difficulties with organizing himself, and his battle with severe social anxiety.

People are no longer diagnosed as high or low-functioning autistic for this very reason. Autism is a huge umbrella of people. Many do not fit our stereotypical view. We miss the individual’s needs and strengths when we see them from this narrow lens.


_________________
"There are a thousand things that can happen when you go light a rocket engine, and only one of them is good."
Tom Mueller of SpaceX, in Air and Space, Jan. 2011


Jakki
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Sep 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 6,024
Location: Outter Quadrant

28 Mar 2021, 10:12 am

Lucinda57 wrote:
Thank you for this post. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I was in the military for 26 years and I think I am high functioning autistic. I looked at the checklist that you used and found that indeed I match a good 95% of the items. I find that I can identify with my autistic clients and even though I work with NT clients effectively.
My grandmother was probably high functioning autistic based on her characteristics as she was considered odd, loved detective magazines and work the same type of clothes but different colors all her life.

There needs to be more exact ways to identify high functioning autism in women. I should have realized sooner but it was never a question.


Welcome to wrong planet Lucinda57. Hope your experiences around your discovery are all positive , congradulations on sorting it out . Prolly will discover some like minded persons here . Looking forward to your future posts, if you
Decide to. :D


_________________
Diagnosed hfa
Loves velcro,
Quote:
where ever you go ,there you are


ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 63
Gender: Male
Posts: 25,864
Location: Long Island, New York

28 Mar 2021, 2:35 pm

To all those who found my OP helpful or relatable, you are welcome.

And thank you Dr. Avery for sharing.


_________________
Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity.

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


Jakki
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Sep 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 6,024
Location: Outter Quadrant

28 Mar 2021, 5:06 pm

Thank you ASpartofme.


_________________
Diagnosed hfa
Loves velcro,
Quote:
where ever you go ,there you are