Growing Older and Autism

I don't know why but I feel more lonely and anxious as a woman of fifty two, than I did within my thirties and forties, when I had a fewer mental health difficulties.  However then

I was not diagnosed as autistic but thought I was like everybody else and not realising I was different, except in company.  Now I feel more alone as I grew older and am going through

the change, wondering if that has an effect on my wiring in my brain.   Has anyone else wondered what hormones and ageing has upon autism, I am sure that it does not help matters. 

  • Hi Bardic Poet,,,I just resurrected a thread from long ago,(Help! Are there any women in this community with ASD.),,it is very long but was intended to discuss many of the issues relating to later diagnosed females...it has very useful information. Treat it as a nice book to read as it did stray off topic often. But overall it had many things discussed primarily by women. I was the interloper being a Male,,,,sssshhhh I sneaked in,,,But was made an honorary female Lol.

    It became very popular and indeed new updated versions were started to make it easier to read,,,when threads get long it means a lot of scrolling and hunting to find nested replies.

    good luck,,,

    x()x

  • Hi, I came across this: https://research.ncl.ac.uk/adultautismspectrum/

    I'm not sure how helpful it will be, but it might be worth a look. It seems that autism hasn't been very well recognized until recently, so how autism interacts with age is less known.

    Hopefully there will be more research in this area in the future!

  • One thing is for sure - the older you get, the more you will get to experience significant losses. My father died in 2015, my mother now has vascular dementia, for example. These could be difficult relationships in both cases, but it certainly has made me aware of how brief our lives really are. 

    I have heard that everyone finds it more difficult to make new friends later on anyway. Most people just do get a lot more set in their lifestyles. Work just takes it out of me, for example.

    As for menopause, it certainly does change things. I never realised until afterwards how much is driven by hormones, somehow. It does bring a certain clarity of understanding from that point of view. 

  • My worry is that I've been coping with social situations through a lot of mental acuity. Now I may get more tired and forgetful, I'm worried I'll cope less well, even if I have learned to relax more.

    Just  wanted to mention there's an autistic trainer interested in autism & ageing, Cos Michael: http://www.autismage.com/

  • Hi Bardic Poet,

    My own experience is a little different. It was in my early thirties that my mental health problems began: depressions, more anxiety in social situations.  My forties were similarly a turbulent time.  I was married for the first five years of them, and began to feel increasingly lost in my life.  At fifty, I had a suicidal breakdown and was off work for a couple of years.  I had therapy at the time, which was when ASC was first identified as a possible root for my problems throughout life.  The therapist explained my thirties problems as my life finally catching up with me - like my life up to that point had been like the tide rushing out after an earthquake at sea... and then the tsunami finally came back to engulf me.  I think that was quite an astute analysis, looking back on it now.  

    I finally got my diagnosis at 56.  It was an overwhelmingly positive thing for me.  Now my life made sense to me at last.  As for other things... well, I've always preferred my own company, so have always been 'alone' rather than 'lonely'.  I've never really had friends or wanted them, and I felt much happier about all of that when I got diagnosed. 

    Having said that, I always had the one person in my life who meant the most to me: my mother.  She passed away a year ago, just before my 58th birthday.  And yesterday was my 59th birthday.  And I have to admit, it felt decidedly odd.  I had a card from my mum's sister, and one (for some reason) from my estranged brother.  In the evening, I popped to my niece's for dinner and spent a pleasant couple of hours with her, her undiagnosed Aspie husband, and her two bright teenage sons.  And then I walked home in the rain afterwards, and sat with the cat and watched a film.  And now I think about it, it was in many ways my 'loneliest' birthday.  I didn't feel 'lonely' exactly.  But I felt more of a keenness about my detachment from the world.  Maybe it's partly tied up with being another year older, and that sense we all start to get at a certain age that there's far more behind us than there is ahead of us.  I look around at other people my age and they're mostly connected to others through marriages, friendships, active social lives.  Not that I want any of those things especially.  But that sense of isolation is keenly felt, nevertheless.  I think, too, about the things I wanted to achieve as a child - to publish books, to live by my writing.  There's still time for me to do those things, of course... but I can't help feeling sometimes that my condition has held me back from doing those things earlier in life.  My education suffered enormously.  I'm sure I have undiagnosed ADD, too.  I find it very difficult to focus now on anything that requires mental effort: reading, writing, studying.  Perhaps all of that is part of a huge parcel of stuff: ASC, ageing, a sense of a stunted life.

    I enjoy my job, working with autistic people.  But I struggle with some of the other staff members: cliqueyness, gossip, laziness.  I had a few words about it all with my manager, and have expressed my anger with a couple of other people there who agree with me.  But it's stirred things up in my head and made me feel anxious.  I'm on annual leave this next week, and I dread going back.  I feel people will be talking about me, and I'll return to a situation where people are shunning me for speaking out.  I almost feel like not going back at all.  I retire in 8 years, but something tells me I won't actually be working for all of that time.  Perhaps it's an after-shock.  A second quake, a second tsunami building.

    I can't help on the hormonal issue.  But I'm sure it doesn't help.  It can be bad enough for women who aren't on the spectrum.  I'm sorry things are feeling like they are for you.  I hope, at least, this community here is some form of reassurance.  I know it is for me.

    Take care,

    Tom

  • I had struggled to relate to other people all my life and had huge problems because of it, and had increasing problems with sensory over load. It wasn't until I got menopausal that I even considered that I might have ASD. I really don't think it was coincidental that it (the ASD) all came into focus and made such perfect sense at that particular time of life. So you're not alone. I really should try to read up on this, but it's been a long time since I could concentrate on reading for any length of time (menopausal brainfade?!) But I will look for the thread Lonewarrior mentions and make an effort.