An Older Autistic

An Older Autistic - The hurtful way you are receiving an older autistic's diagnosis #autistic #mentalhealth #older #diagnosis #aspergers

You ask any older autistic person, and they’ll have THE line.

The line everyone says when told that the autistic person is autistic;

“I didn’t know/you don’t look/is that’s whats odd about you?”

Do you know why that might be? And why what you’re saying is the most harmful and degrading thing you can possibly offer, that actually makes that person feel a hundred times worse?

Because they’re not just masking their inner selves from you, they’ve done it for decades. They’ve spent their whole lives, many undiagnosed, in a confusing world that chafed their sides and left parts of them raw, scarred, and hard. It left them vulnerable afraid, but able and adaptable to do whatever it takes to fit in, not be judged, and to try to find their place in a conflictive and chaotic world.

Let me use a completely different story/analogy for this to make sense which coincides with my writerly audience.

There is a story that’s gone around about how a guy went to his therapist, to complain he wasn’t good at writing. When the therapist asks how long he’s been a writer, the guys says three years. The therapist then asks him; do you expect a three-year-old to be an artist? The answer is of course not, they’re just a child. Then why lay the same expectations at the feet of himself when he’s only been trying three years?

Its meant to be encouraging for younger writers, no matter their age, that you are only just starting to learn how to do something.

A child’s autism can be seen as much more obvious because we are more aware of the signs and are better clued into the mental health of younger generations, than those who were born earlier.

Do you know what people with aspergers and autism have done their whole lives before such awareness was more commonplace, or those that still do it because they dont have access to a health system that recognizes why they are struggling?

CONFROM.

FIT IN.

FORCED ADJUSTMENT.

From the time we are children and join schools and start social interaction something is… wrong.

There is an undefinable sense beyond childhood embarrassing awkwardness that tells us we aren’t like everyone else. From needing down time struggles to stimming being taken as fidgeting, we aren’t okay. But we’re made to play in a loud group of noisy unaware children who aren’t like us. We’re told we’re drama queens, unnecessarily sensitive and emotional yet in a handspan of heartbeats are chastised for lacking empathy and compassion.

So we do what we’re told; because many of us, especially women, should only do as they are told.

Don’t make waves. Make friends. Be interested in other people. Nobody is interested in you. Remember all that information. Don’t talk about those fascinating things. Find a hobby. Don’t become obsessed. Fix yourself to fit in with everyone else.

Many of us went undiagnosed, and many still do. Why? Because we did what we were told.

We’re good at it. We’re so good, women aren’t usually diagnosed until late twenties, early thirties, and many not until years later, if at all. And those are the ones who are seeking therapy, trying to find answers beyond; you’re stressed out/depressed, take these tablets and get out of my office.

We’re very good at covering up who we are. We’ve had years of practice listening to people tell us we are wrong.  We build on it, learn to hold our tongues, take a step back, so by the time we’re old enough, confident enough to say; this is more than just the way I am, we’re shattered to find out the world lied to us. All those years, all that time, all that chaffing, and scratchiness, and WRONGNESS was not our fault.

We made mistakes, but we are also not at fault.

The comfort in my diagnoses didn’t give me the strength to come forward. Other people with Aspergers gave me the strength to say to people, at a time I was comfortable, my diagnosis.

And when I did, people hurt me by disregarding or pointing out my flawed nature. My wrongness.

You dont look autistic.

It’s because you taught me not to be myself in front of you. Every one of you. That if my mental health problems were invisible to you then it suited you better. And it insulted every single person on the spectrum, visible or not. It teaches everyone who can hide what they are to do so, and its still happening.

The next person I tell that I have aspergers and they say that to me, I’m going to tell them what they’re saying is harmful. If you’re strong enough, tell them its hurtful. Because there are so many people out there who aren’t confident in their diagnosis/suspected diagnosis to come forward about being autistic, let alone asking for the space they need to survive.

7 Comments on “An Older Autistic

  1. Thank you for such an informative article. I have also been on the receiving end of statements like that and I think they don’t realize the power of the words they say. I know I have also said unintentionally rude comments before without realizing it until much later and then I was absolutely mortified.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I really appreciate this post. I wasn’t diagnosed until 22 and I think some people genuinely believe that saying things like “you don’t look autistic” or “you’re so good at masking” are compliments. But they are so hurtful. Good to hear from another autistic having a similar experience

    Like

    • Getting a later diagnosis when you are not a “child” anymore is traumatic because you spent so much of your youth masking those instances of being you. Please remember to be kind to your inner child when the world wasn’t. You’re all she’s got, and now you have the time you can let yourself BE her. Please dont feel childish or like indulging in those is a waste of time. Its not.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for writing this. I often shrug this statement off, as I know there is likely no ill intent behind it, but still, it stings like an accusation. It brings back that same feeling of ‘wrongness’ that we are all so accustomed to. When you’re right about the reason for all that ‘wrong,’ it can feel like you’re right for the first time ever. It is internal, and the person saying it likely doesn’t have an idea what you’ve been through (for the reasons you’ve outlined) so I do try to keep this in mind. I agree, explaining this assertively yet calmly is the best we can do if possible. A lot of those who don’t get it sadly never will.

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    • You’re absolutely right, and it takes a lot of time and confidence to be able to say something, not to mention we aren’t all the same or with the same diagnosis, but being polite about it never hurts, and letting them know so they don’t hurt anyone else takes a lot from us too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. With everything the world has done to deny my reality, some random ill educated persons “opinions “ matter not. My standard response is “ oh I left my rainman costume at home “ or really a 50 plus year old male is different to a five year old child well fancy that lols .
    Words only have the power we give them and after five decades I refuse to give those power to erase my differences .

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