AS-linked problems getting worse with time?

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ouroborosUK
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11 Apr 2014, 11:38 am

I have the impression that my autistic features cause me much more trouble now that they did in the past. The symptoms have always been there of course, that's clear and that was important for my diagnosis, but simply in the past they were not so much trouble. Until my early 20s I had a sometimes "weird" but overall pleasant life. 20-25 was mixed because I realized something was odd and missing in my social relationships. 25-30 was anxiety, one and half year of depression and many problems as I was desperately struggling to build a social life that was not adapted to my cognitive style.

Now I got my diagnosis three months ago and I feel that I am understanding more and more things but in the same time able to do less and less. It makes sense to me overall since the social demands of my life grew more complex those last years, but still, I was wondering if some other people were in a similar situation. And if you had found a way to finally sort things out.

Thanks,


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Willard
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11 Apr 2014, 12:47 pm

Yes, I can see a definite 'arc' in functionality over the course of my life. It went from barely able to cope socially and fading into the wallpaper everywhere I went, to gradually opening up in the last two years of High School, then once I got out in the world and involved in a career, I actually had a small circle of friends in my 20s, raised a family in my 30s and then somewhere in my 40s, that functionality began to gradually deteriorate.

In my 50s now, I feel about as functional in the real world as I did at 14. I once again struggle with small talk and feel panicky and lost when a stranger even speaks to me. Part of that loss is due, I'm sure, to the fact that since I'm not going to a job every day anymore, and I'm isolated for long periods, with no one to talk to and nowhere to go, I'm falling out of practice, but my social skills were in decline long before that occurred.



hihowareyou
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11 Apr 2014, 1:01 pm

Too many other factors to consider...

Personally I thought high school and my early 20s were really tough due to all the expectations in social skills and other problems I was facing at the time.

Mind you I have been use to being alone though and some people may have really close friends until their mid 20 when they start to drift apart.



kraftiekortie
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11 Apr 2014, 1:40 pm

I was quite oblivious to all until around age 5, when I acquired speech. After I acquired speech, my memories became clearer. I became more stereotypically "Aspergian," rather than Kannerly autistic after that point (anybody ever read "Elijah's Cup"? Something similar happened to Elijah).

All through my childhood, I was the "little professor" type with little heed to other people's reactions. Around the age of 8, I would brag, "I know all the capitals in the world," and reel off many of them. Social discourse was foreign to me. I could not discern sarcasm, irony, etc at all. I would have benefited from social skills classes. I also had symptoms of ADHD. I would call out answers in class, thereby getting myself thrown out and in the guidance counselor's office on a daily basis. I was almost expelled from school for that. I was bullied, and I threw many temper tantrums. I had problems in proprioception--which remain to this day (i.e., "my left hand doesn't know what my right hand is doing.")

My social skills continued to be insufficient in high school. I was badgered and bullied. I had no real friends. I did okay academically--not especially stellar. I had no sense of when to enter a conversation. My insertions into conversations were frequently irrelevant to the situation at hand. People avoided me.

As an young adult, I had similar problems. I avoided socialization. I was able to acquire independence and a job--but I didn't care how my apartment looked (though it was always "messy" rather than "dirty." I had a mattress on the floor, and I was heedless to people's reactions. I howled in the streets, kicked soda cans when I was upset--I didn't care if the cops stopped me. I avoided crowds; that's why I didn't experience problems with sensory overload--I avoided those situations.

Now, I'm in my 50's. I still am heedless to people's reactions when I do things like meow in my cubicle. However, my social skills have improved due to observation and practice (even using my mirror, at times). I do fair-to-middling, sometimes poorly, at inserting myself into conversations. I don't have any "close friends"--I rely on my acquaintances at work and some old professors for socialization. I don't try to avoid situations where there is the potential for sensory overload; as a result, I sometimes experience it, and become speechless (dumb with shock). If I do speak, I stutter badly. I wander around and pace. I look confused--perhaps even "autistic." When I get frustrated, I might bang my head against a pole--however, I do purposely hold back on the intensity. I do okay as an adult--but, if I didn't have Spectrumite and ADHD-type symptoms, I would have probably done much better. I am fortunate that my clerical job will provide me with a pension.

I can only teach people one-to-one. I have trouble coordinating things like Powerpoint--and observing my audience--when I am in a position to give a presentation (which I avoid these days). I want to be a therapist. I've tried being a "counselor" to a client with Wilson's Disease once, but I did not succeed. I'm too self-absorbed--too autistic in the Eugen Bleuler sense. (I allowed things to revolve around my own needs, rather than my client's).

I think some of this could be improved with "willpower"; sometimes, though, I'm not so sure.



ouroborosUK
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14 Apr 2014, 11:39 am

Thanks for your insightful answers all.

Globally, it looks like things go awry (anxiety, depression, etc.) when social expectations exceeds social skills. (Or aren't matched by social skills, if we take the position that our social skills are different but not fundamentally inferior.)

Until my 20s I had few social skills but few social demands. No interest in girls. A few friends based on shared intellectual interest and playing roleplaying games together. A sheltering (if boring) family that globally let me do whatever I liked as long as I got good grades at school, which I did. Middle and high school were filled with stupid useless people (or at least that is why I saw them at the time), but they never got further than teasing me because the school teachers and staff were amazingly good at detecting and preventing bullying (seriously; that was a religious and I disagree with many things they taught, but they genuinely cared for the children in their school and always protected me). I just ignored most people and sticked to my books, my computer and my few roleplaying/discussion friends and it was OK.

Now things are just much more complicated, fuzzy and unpredictable. I should probably both learn more (or different) social skills and make my life simpler and more focused on the things I like.


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A bit obsessed with vocabulary, semantics and using the right words. Sorry if it is a concern. It's the way I think, I am not hair-splitting or attacking you.