Adult with possible undiagnosed autism

I am over fifty, just wondering if it is worth pursuing a diagnosis or a waste of time. I have worked in Education for a long time and always suspected that I have traits.

Since childhood, I have always struggled with social situations, avoiding them whenever possible. Always used to be possessive about friends, couldn’t cope with friends from one part of my life meeting friends from another part.

Always been at peace only when alone. Hate changes of routine. Struggle with relationships, find loss of space very difficult. Had a few periods of depression, usually when in long term relationships, even if happy.

Have worked all my life, but found it exceptionaly exhausting, particularly when living with others. When I lived alone and came home from work to complete peace, I coped. Whenever I have lived with a long term partner ( hardlyy ever), I experience stress if don’t get some time alone at home. Recently, with age as well as this, I have had work difficulties and had to leave my long-term career for much less secure employment.

I get totally exhausted if anything changes e.g. if I cannot use my usual routes. Also, if things get moved in the home. On moving house, it has always taken me 4-5 years to settle in. I do have an amazing talent for remembering certain things...faces, car number plates, phone numbers. I can recognise people I haven’t seen since childhood. Also, have recognised strangers from a meal in a restaurant a long time afterwards etc...I can remember all the car number plates from my parents and my cars over the years for no,apparent reason.

I score 37 on an online AQ.

  • Hi there,

    Well... all I can say is that I was nodding along to just about everything you mentioned there.  I spent many years wondering what on earth was wrong with me for the very reasons you state: relationships, friendships, routines, anxiety, etc. In my early 30s, things caught up with me and I started to add depressions to my list of issues.  I couldn't pinpoint particular reasons for it and spent many years being pushed from pillar to post in mental health services.  I was given medication and put on courses of CBT.  I was told to give up drinking (which I didn't do heavily, anyway).  None of it helped.

    In my early 50s, I had a colossal breakdown as the result of work-related stress and the failure of yet another relationship.  I was suicidal, and was lucky to come through it.  Then started a prolonged period of seeing a therapist, who finally saw what she thought were signs of ASC.  I took the AQ and scored highly, too.  When I read up on ASC, it was like a light-bulb coming on in my head.  I decided then and there to go for diagnosis.  I needed the confirmation.

    Unfortunately, my GP first referred me back to mental health services again.  There, I was met with incredulity.  I was told by a psych that I couldn't be autistic because I didn't flap my hands or rock in my chair!  I was sent away, feeling like a fool.  Fortunately, my therapist persevered and insisted that I be referred directly to specialist autism services.  I was... and just over two years later, aged 56, I had my diagnosis.  I have to say it was worth the wait, and has been very worth having.  I'd recommend it to anyone who seeks the kind of confirmation and validation I sought.  Sure, it can be double-edged.  I makes one reflect on how much differently life might have turned out if it was diagnosed before.  But at least now, I no longer feel like a failure - like someone who is thick, or simply not trying hard enough.  I know the answers to the many questions my life has raised.  I can mention it in the workplace, too, and expect to get reasonable adjustments made to suit me.

    I mention the detail about events prior to my diagnosis just to let you know that if you do decide to go down that route, be prepared that it might not be straightforward.  You may, too, be either rebuffed, or referred to MH services first.  And you may not (although it's not always the case) get anywhere that way.  You need to persevere, though - and to insist on seeing the right people.

    If you want any further info, take a look here:

    All about diagnosis

    Good luck,

    Tom

  • Sorry to reply to myself, but I forgot to mention, I also go from one obsessive hobby to another, always have done. If it isn’t a pet ( I long since stopped having pets as I realised boredom set in after the obsession) or some sort of craft it is a musical instrument or a TV programme. It is always the be all and end all, I start planning to make a business out of it etc...etc...then on to the next thing.

    Also, I had imaginary friends ( two) and meltdowns as a child til my early teens, in early childhood I would tie myself into a tight ball which my parents could not open up. I was even taken to the GP about it as my parents thought there was a serious problem. I still easily get into foul tempers with those I love and trust to do so.

  • Hello,

    As someone who has recently been diagnosed at the age of 61, I would recommend that you pursue a diagnosis. It has been a mainly positive experience for me.

    I was very struck by something Steve Silberman said on the most recent edition of Private Passions, Radio 3, ‘Neurodiversity is as important as Biodiversity’

    I wish you well.

    Graham. 

  • Hi. I have just been diagnosed at the age of 55yrs. As a woman I was ignored and misdiagnosed, mismedicated etc. I would say that a diagnosis may help you to understand whats actually going on with you BUT it will not make any difference to your life unless you are very, very lucky.

    In my experience there is little/no actual support out there once you have a diagnosis and, certainly in my case, it has not helped me at all, if anything it has made me feel totally hopeless. There is a difference between suspecting that you have a syndrome and confirmation. My diagnosis has rammed home the fact that my whole life has been ruined by this condition and as there is no cure or even useful therapy etc there is little point in having a label as nothing is going to improve and at my age there is no chance of picking up the pieces and starting again.

    Think carefully about what you want before you make your decision.

  • Hi. I have just been diagnosed at the age of 55yrs. As a woman I was ignored and misdiagnosed, mismedicated etc. I would say that a diagnosis may help you to understand whats actually going on with you BUT it will not make any difference to your life unless you are very, very lucky.

    In my experience there is little/no actual support out there once you have a diagnosis and, certainly in my case, it has not helped me at all, if anything it has made me feel totally hopeless. There is a difference between suspecting that you have a syndrome and confirmation. My diagnosis has rammed home the fact that my whole life has been ruined by this condition and as there is no cure or even useful therapy etc there is little point in having a label as nothing is going to improve and at my age there is no chance of picking up the pieces and starting again.

    Think carefully about what you want before you make your decision.

    Which is a perfectly valid take on it.  As I said, it's a double-edged sword, and for many the negative edge will be the sharper one. 

    Where I differ is that my diagnosis helped me to realise that there isn't, in fact, anything 'wrong' with me after all.  I'm simply different.  Yes, my life could have been easier.  But when I look back on it all now, and when I look at general society as it is, I'm actually glad that I'm different in that way.  For me, the difference between suspecting and confirming was mainly positive.  When I was only suspecting, and even though I was in no doubt, I still had the worry that I would be told 'No... it's not that.'  Confirming, on the other hand, was final validation.  And that, for me, was priceless.

    As for labeling... well, I had plenty of that prior to diagnosis: anti-social, shy, rude, fussy, stupid, naive, gullible, over-sensitive, immature, pedantic....