Ageing With Autism

Did you know that over 700,000 people in the UK are autistic and most of them are adults? Much has been written about children and autism but there is very little information about ageing..

Most autistic people have additional problems such as depression, anxiety, sleep issues or learning difficulties and on top of all this comes the ageing process – which can be shit at the best of times.

Being diagnosed at 46, I understand myself as the child that I was and the adult that I am now but what next?

What will happen to me when I’m old?

A positive thing about diagnosis is that it’s given me permission to be myself. Pretending to fit in is exhausting but I have confidence to be me so I no longer have to work quite so hard at existing.

*does air-punch*

However, the way my mind works is that I dwell on the past and overthink the future. The future causes me concern because I fear being put in an old peoples home where I would be forced to be social. I’m not saying that every autistic person will feel like I do as we’re all different but as far as I’m concerned, it would be hell.

I’m not completely averse to being social but it has to be on my terms and I reckon I’d die pretty flipping quickly if my need for solitude was not respected or understood.

Also..

I don’t want to sit on a plastic chair and watch shit TV programmes.

I don’t want to play bingo.

I don’t want to eat my food with everybody else.

I don’t want to go on day trips to the fucking seaside where I’ll be asked if I need a piss every five minutes.

No ta.

I’m sort of hoping I’ll vacate this planet via my own home but you don’t always get what you want do you?

I get that oldie homes work for many people. The social thing probably keeps them alive longer but not me. I’d be bagged, tagged and laid out on the mortuary slab within a week!

As I age, I will most likely need more medical intervention. I mean, I’m creaking like an old barn door now so it’s a given. One problem with this is I struggle with verbal instruction, not because I’m slow, but because my brain can’t process more than one verbal instruction at a time so when medical professionals start reeling off instructions at one million miles an hour because they are SUPER busy, my brain goes screen saver and I just remember the first part or nothing at all. I need them to understand this about me and either slow up or write it down and when I request this of them I don’t want to be considered an awkward git.

One example of this is when I recently went for a Dexa scan. The radiographer fired out about four verbal instructions in one go. My brain went blank and I froze so he got up from his chair and physically moved my legs into position. He didn’t ask if he could move my legs for me and I resent that. I felt stupid. In the past I have been called stupid when I haven’t responded to verbal instruction. Now I understand why I struggle. I’m NOT stupid but people ARE ignorant.

I want healthcare professionals to understand that unfamiliarity makes me incredibly anxious which exacerbates my sensory issues, like pain threshold. I’m not being pathetic or difficult. I’d like them to treat me as they would a member of their family. That applies to everybody, regardless of autism, because we ALL matter. Would that radiographer have been as abrupt with his own mother? I don’t think so!

Although I’ve known I’m autistic for the past four years, I wasn’t able to say it. Had I have had the diagnosis it when I had that scan, I would have been able to explain about the verbal instruction (or OH would) and I wouldn’t have been made to feel like a tit.

The first children diagnosed as autistic are now middle-aged and I think it’s very important that we research how the autistic person changes physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially as they age. Most people need help in old age so it stands to reason that autistic people will require more support and understanding of their individual needs. I still fear old age but not quite as badly as before I was diagnosed..

The fear I have about not being here for The Boy is one I have the most trouble with. How will he cope without me? That thought physically hurts me but my job is to make sure that he can survive on his own. We’re on a path, him and I. He’s growing up and I’m growing old. I may still be 16 in my head but my body is convinced it’s 109. However, while I still have breath in my rapidly ageing body, I will do ALL I can to support my son. The day he no longer needs me will be a heart stopper but that’s what I’m aiming for. Not for my heart to actually stop cus I’d be dead like, but for him to be independent.

That’s what any parent aims for.

Some autistic people never achieve independence and that must be so hard for parents to deal with but I can only tell our story and independence is a possibility given the right support.

I’ve managed to survive for almost 47 years without support. However, it’s been hard and I don’t want him to struggle as I have. Once he’s living his life independently, I’ll embrace codgerdom in all it’s glory until Death points his bony finger my way and says in his best Sean Bean accent “Come on lass, let’s go ‘ome”.

And off I’ll go.

Thanks for reading.

Image Credit

Spectrum Sunday

 

12 thoughts on “Ageing With Autism

  1. Great that you’ve got your diagnosis Tracy and a very informative blog on ‘the middle aged’ struggles with autism. Dreadful that a healthcare professional (using that word loosely) should treat anyone in that way. No of us knows what troubles and struggles people are living with and there’s no cost for kindness and good manners!
    I’m with you on brain overload and being asked to do more than one physical thing at a time. Many years ago I tried a keep fit class…….bad idea. How the heck did those stunning, fit skinny birds float around the floor all in rhythm and time? I was the red bloater at the back going the wrong way to everyone else, arms and legs moving with a mind of their own……just thought of another physical problem I have, running. How do people know to do it and breathe at the same time, I honestly can’t,….hold breath and move, then stop and gasp……yep a really really good look 😂
    Love you lady! 😘💞xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • This made me laugh lol. I tried a step class many years ago but I was the idiot who was always facing the wrong way and my arms and legs just wouldn’t work at the same time. I have the coordination of a one wheeled wheelie bin ha ha. Lufs you loads!! xxxxxx

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  2. It’s such a shame that medical professionals can’t slow down a bit to check your understanding of what they’re saying. I was wondering, if you’re very nervous, whether you could just hand them a card saying ‘I’m autistic, I can only process one piece of information at a time, please check I understand before you move on/ please give me the time to take notes’.
    I think you’re doing a fantastic job with your boy and it’s great that you can understand and support each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks lovely, I was able to do it yesterday at the hospital when I went to pick up my colon prep. She started firing through the verbal instruction and I stopped her and explained as best I could so she said no worries as there is a booklet with it all written down. So that was fine. 🙂 X

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  3. My wife, also Tracy, only recently got her official diagnosis in her 40s so I think I understand much of what you must have had to go through in this NT world. Your post made me laugh at times and frustrated me at other’s at what you’d experienced. Keep writing 🙂 Ned

    Liked by 1 person

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