Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I’m 65 years old and I’ve just recently come to believe that I may be on the spectrum. I don’t
feel any desire or need to get a diagnosis.

I live independently and manage to cope fairly well,
all things considered. I currently work with adults on the low functioning end of the spectrum,
doing a music activity 3 days a week and a basketball activity on one day. I don’t have a related
degree, but do have a B.A. in English. I also work part-time in retail, and make a small income
playing music occasionally. I’m divorced with two adult children.

My first inkling that I might actually be autistic came when I was working at a school for high
school aged kids with learning problems. Two of the students there had a diagnosis of
Aspergers’, and that was the first I’d heard of that. This was about 15 years ago. I found I could
relate well to these students, and one day while the principal was discussing the condition I said
“sometimes I think I might have Aspergers.” He replied “maybe you do.” He was very familiar
with the condition and also knew me quite well, so it made me think.

In my early school grades, kindergarten and 1 st grade at least, I was apparently a behavior
problem in school. I never felt like I fit in with my classmates or neighborhood friends, and
frequently felt uncomfortable around them. Looking back, I realize that I missed many social
clues, especially in high school, where I was regarded as a loner. In my high school yearbook I
was described as “seen but not heard.” Back then though I believe there was very low
awareness of autism, and especially high functioning autism.

In working with the adults with autism as I do now, I came to realize I have many affinities with
them. I find eye contact very uncomfortable for example, and feel a deep empathy for their
perspectives and behaviors. I find that many typicals take me the “wrong way,” and most of my
interactions with other staff are very awkward. For what it’s worth, I recently completed
several online self-diagnosis questionnaires, and consistently scored on the spectrum.
I have a family member who is a psychologist, and in speaking with her recently about my
suspicion I’m on the spectrum, she said she tended to think no, but said it was possible. She did
suggest I see a therapist about my difficulties with social interactions and relationships. I have
no close friends or relationships now.

I identify as an alcoholic, and am proud of having been sober now for over 5 years thanks to
alcoholics anonymous. My psychologist relation did find it curious that I have no close friends
even within the program. In 2002 I had brain surgery for a benign tumor and have had epilepsy
since, although I’ve had no seizures since I quit drinking in 2013. I don’t know if that experience
contributes to my current situation, although my ex-wife did divorce me shortly after that and
suggested I should be involved in a brain injury support group. My experiences before I
developed the tumor leads me to believe that the tumor and surgery are not the sole reasons
for my condition.

Self-assessment is difficult. It is not important to me that I ever get a diagnosis or know for sure
if I am on the spectrum. Considering that possibility and learning more about autism has, I
believe, led me to greater self awareness, and I consider that positive growth. I look forward to
learning more with the help of a good therapist. All in all though, I have to say I am happy now
and look forward to continued and perhaps greater happiness as long as my life continues.

1 comment:

  1. I can identify with you quite a lot. We are the same age and I have always felt like an outsider and spent most of my childhood playing on my own. I have very few friends and only one I consider close, and he is on the spectrum as well, so socialising is fraught with difficulty. You are not alone out there. Keep doing what you are doing, I do.