Growing Older on the Autism Spectrum

What does it mean to grow older on the spectrum?

Thanks to my Aspergarian nature, I don’t feel middle-aged but my body often tells me otherwise. My hair is going steadily gray and I’ve got the beginnings of arthritis in my hands. My joints pop and crack after I’ve been sitting too long. I’m in denial about my need for reading glasses. Pretty standard growing older stuff, whether you’re on the spectrum or not.

It’s the nonstandard stuff I’ve been . . .

. . . worrying about?

Not quite. I don’t worry about much and certainly not the distant future.

. . . afraid of?

Too strong a word.

. . . wondering about?

That sounds about right. I’m perpetually curious about all sorts of important and unimportant stuff. Before I started writing this, I searched for studies about Asperger’s and aging. Not surprisingly, I only found one and it wasn’t conclusive. (It did have one slightly alarming hypothesis about why autistic adults might not fare as well as neurotypical adults in old age. I’ve summarized it at the bottom of this piece if you’re curious.)

So, here are the things that I’m wondering about as I get older.

1. I wonder if I’ll be able to avoid a serious fall when I’m less physically resilient. I have a tendency to trip, fall and bump into things. No matter how vigilant I am, it happens. In the past month I’ve taken a couple of dives, one while running on a country road and one on the slippery locker room floor after swimming. The first got me a nasty case of road rash and the second resulted in a sore shoulder–relatively minor injuries considering how hard I went crashing to the ground both times. I doubt that will be the case if I take a similar fall a couple of decades from now.

2. I wonder if the recent decline in mental endurance is the beginning of a downward trajectory that will eventually limit my capacity to concentrate or work as I get older. Since hitting my forties, I’ve noticed that I tire more quickly during tasks requiring intense concentration. Powering through is no longer as appealing or even as feasible as it was 10 years ago. To compensate, I’ve been taking more breaks during the work day and giving myself permission to rest when I need to. I set smaller goals and reward myself for reaching them. I try not to have unrealistic expectations of what I can accomplish in a day.

3. I wonder if my decreasing willingness to endure things for the sake of pleasing people will turn into a liability. So far it’s been a positive development–increasingly allowing me to say no when I want or need to–but I can see how, if I’m not careful, I might wake one day to find I’ve become a crazy old cat lady.

4. I wonder if I’ll be able to keep up my exercise routine. Exercise keeps me sane. I need to run or swim regularly to burn off my excess energy and generate the cocktail of good chemicals that balance my brain. I figure this should be possible at least into my sixties, assuming I don’t seriously hurt myself first (see #1).

5. I wonder what life will be like if my husband dies before me. I enjoy his company in a way that I don’t enjoy being with anyone else. He and my daughter are the only two people I feel truly comfortable being around. I can’t imagine wanting to meet someone else. I’ve never lived alone. Whenever I read a new story about a married couple who’ve died together–in a plane crash or some other horrible accident–my first thought is always how lucky they were to have passed away together and avoided being widowed.

Wow, where to go from there? How about some positives?

As I get older, I’m softening up. I’m more patient with myself, more accepting of my faults, more compassionate. I’m less concerned with pleasing others, less worried about being accepted or thought of as “normal”.

Since learning about my Asperger’s, I feel like I’m actively healing the scared little kid that I was and integrating the fragmented parts of my self. I don’t think this would have been possible in my twenties or thirties.

In a lot of ways, I feel like time is my ally. I still have a lot of it left and I’m determined to make the best of it.

Geek Alert: What the Science Says about Aging on the Spectrum

A search for some scientific background about aging and autism turned up only one study, which evaluated people over 60 with autism (mostly with Asperger’s Syndrome) against similar age controls on a variety of cognitive domains. The results were mixed, but the researchers threw out an interesting hypothesis in their discussion. Adults (and adolescents) with ASD tend to use more and larger areas of their brain than neurotypical adults when performing certain cognitive (executive function) tasks. As we age, the NT brain makes a similar adaptation so that elderly NTs also use more and larger parts of their brain to compensate for the degeneration of the brain associated with aging.

The researchers suggested that a faster decline in certain cognitive areas among elderly people with ASD might be a result of the brain’s inability to recruit additional areas for cognitive processing, since this was adaptation that they’d already made earlier in life. On the positive side, there were some areas where adults with ASD performed better than controls. Obviously this is only one study with a relatively small sample size so it what it can tell us about aging on the spectrum is limited. Either way, I suspect we can learn more by listening to older adults on the spectrum than by cognitive testing in the lab. If you’re an autistic person in your fifties or sixties or older, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

26 thoughts on “Growing Older on the Autism Spectrum”

  1. Hi. I’m fifty. and have trouble standing up. Remembering is effected. Have a lot of meltdowns. Memory is effected. My enthusiasm is not as strong. Resoponding to things emotionally is more exhausting. I hate the idea of getting older, wth AS. I feel more isolated from family and people I know. I agree that we need to listen to older people on the spectrum. Thank you for writing this entry.

    1. Thank you for sharing. Since I posted this a couple of months ago, I’ve actually started feeling even more affected by age, especially in terms of enthusiasm and my energy levels. I wish there was more out there for older aspies and autistics to help us understand what to expect.

  2. Firstly your worries about ageing are valid and inevitable, we age and our bodies deteriorate, this is natural and cannot be avoided. Life, with all its variables and stages, cannot be avoided, nor should they be. On reading what you have shared a question came to my mind. Is your apprehension about age or your natural life progression about the details you pointed out or is it because of the bigger picture, that if or when any of 1-5 transpires what will I do? Will I be vulnerable, will I be destitute, how will I survive. And when I become vulnerable as I age will people and society marginalize and discriminate against me even more?
    Western society is geared towards appreciation of people based upon their economic earning capacity or ability to keep them life giving tax dollars coming in through their labours which creates a lot of anxiety and fear of a natural process. The culture also is economically skewed to only allow certain people to rights based on sex, age, race or any other deviation from the ‘norm’. We also know that if and when something unexpected (accident) or expected (age) we are essentially screwed, will your government provide for you as you have for it, not likely. Will your pension if you have one be there when you need it? Lots of risk in that too. And the economy in Western countries is not based on sound principals and is not reliable yet we are suppose to put all our eggs in one basket, trust the people holding it and not worry, hardly possible. Even if you did manage to earn enough money to hire other people to take care of you, the fact is that abuse still occurs. It is very common to see how vulnerable people like children, the elderly, non-anglo’s, women, homosexuals and many simply because they practice non-christian religious beliefs are intentionally systematically and socially marginalized.
    Nan, Old Bag, Geezer, Crone, Codger, Biddy, all these English words are applied to older people by younger people, we hear this all our lives and it does very little to ease the process or make us comfortable in our own skin, or successfully completing our journey in a positive way. The younger people who cockily hurl these insults fail to understand that they too will be in that position so basically what they are doing is discriminating against themselves and will get much the same from their own children one day as these are the values they will pass on which is incredibly foolish because the only way to avoid this mess they have created is to die before their time and who wants to do that? Also if they were taught to respect and open up to their elders like many of us do they could learn a great deal more about themselves as people and a society and gain the skills and knowledge that will aid them when they finally achieve that accomplishment. Being younger is not better, you may be physically better off but are sorely lacking in wisdom and experience, at no time in life do we have it all going on and that is how it should be, life would be dull if we had no experiences, challenges and stages to look forward to.
    Physically I am far worse condition than you are, I have survived a lot, you are a great deal stronger than you realize, so please do not worry too much about falling and recovering, I have faith in you! Being labelled and marginalized is not fun, but if you re-read what I wrote and think about it very few in modern western society are not discriminated against for absurd cruel reasons that are counter productive yet accepted.
    Autism does run in our family, I have an autistic child, nephew, cousins, its a long list. Despite the fact that many of us are on the spectrum and our autistic traits have benefited our NT relations a great deal, a few insist on us being ‘normal’. But if we were behaving ‘normal’ as they put it they could not comprehend that we would not be able to achieve the things we had and they and others would be somewhat worse off.
    As far as the increased introversion, this struck me a few years ago, so I let everyone know I would be unavailable for a time so I could concentrate on my work. Work, autism, family right, most understood some did not and behaved as if I was somehow intentionally trying to hurt them. (Narcissism) If I had told them I was taking a few weeks to travel to a spot where I could lay around, eat and drink and have my needs catered too by resort staff like they did they would have been quite pleased about it but you see I was deviating from their norm. As per usual the onus was on me to somehow compensate or smooth things because they through no fault of their own were born with an NT brain except that they were now the parent of a beautiful autistic child and as such it was not about me. And I simply refuse by rule to bend to ridiculous expectations. Their child had been diagnosed very early when his deafness was discovered, his parents refused to allow the hospital to explore his autism and enter into a program to aid him in his development? What would his future be like if I let them continue to believe the right to identify and dictate normal? What would his future be like if I did not speak out and share the information they needed to understand and support that child, or any child who’s parents are not as easily aware of what their behaviour means and how to help support them. Our struggles are not about us, they are about those who are yet to come.
    I took my non-verbal holiday and something happened that was unlike anything I had experienced so far. I wish I had done it sooner, it was brilliant, healthy, productive and it helped me in so, so many ways. Do not fight your nature, that is a losing battle and will likely cause you more harm than good.
    And to end this long diatribe there has been a lot of information about autism and ageing, it does not come to us from the scientific community, it comes from the autistic people who came before us. I found support and guidance through the works of people who although no longer with us left us their messages in their work and they were able to help me understand that my requirements and harmless passions did not make me a pariah or subhuman. Appreciate and allow yourself to enjoy the only valid thing with any meaning we truly possess, the time our life spans have gifted us!

    1. Thank you for the perspective and reassurance. I think my biggest fear about these things is how will I cope. My ability to cope is somewhat tenuous at times as it is.

      I don’t worry as much about what society thinks or how people will see me, perhaps because that’s something I don’t give a lot of thought to in general.

      I like your strategy of simply declaring yourself unavailable for a time to get the necessary time you need to work. And yes, if you were going off to a resort people would be understanding and thrilled for you. Society is strange.

  3. Rather late for commenting on this but I am working through the subjects as I get time and what is of interest at the moment. I am 53 and only figured out the ASD thing over the last year or so. My tale of how I got here is probably the same as many older people and the realization of ASD.
    Regarding getting older and ability, concentration etc. In my 40’s I thought the same as you stated. but I was not happy so four years ago I went to university full time and I now have an undergraduate degree and just finished a Masters in engineering and I found my state of concentration mental ability and such rose to the occasion. I found when I got to my 40’s I started to think I had to slow down, so life got less interesting but I decided I did not want that so I changed.
    A lot of it is because that is what society expects and really not what people can be like. True there is an inevitable slowing in many aspects of life, but I just push myself harder set goals make a reason to try, alter the way I react things (as much as possible) so as not to waste energy on non-essentials, and above all be positive. And I found it is quite suprising what anybody with the right outlook can do.
    I live by the idea of exercise of both mind and body, and not just mild exercise but always pushing myself to close to the limits of what I can do. I am still tired but happier and sharper physically and mentally as a result. Actually getting old I cannot change so I choose not to spend much time on it, By the way all this has taken some years, it was not an overnight change but about 6 – 8 years of effort. – And I am still working on it.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement and wisdom from “further down the road.” I’m hoping that once I get past menopause, some of the things I’m struggling with now will naturally resolve themselves.

      I’m a huge believer in exercise and recently decided to try my first triathlon. So I’ve been pushing myself hard with that goal in mind and I love the challenge, even if my body complains a bit dramatically some days. 🙂

  4. This is a good topic. I’ve been thinking about this subject in general as I am getting older (53) and thinking about it from a general perspective, before realizing that I am most likely and Aspie. My thoughts over the past few years, especially once I turned 50 have been about the fact that I am getting older, looking in the mirror and wondering how I am now 50, and don’t feel it, what 50 is supposed to feel like. Perhaps having the mindset like many that I have so much more to do, what have I done or completed to now. Frustrated with myself for not having accomplished more. I can truly say that now that I am aware of having all of these Aspie traits, I am much kinder and gentler with myself, and excited about what is next. Instead of beating myself up for trying and not succeeding, for pushing myself to do things, work a job, have a relationship or friendships that clearly are not a match for me. Day by day I feel more free (since I began this journey of discovery in early October of 2014). I’m learning about who I really am, my family before me, what I really love, where I am challenged, and how I can adapt, and or quit adapting and flow in the beautiful path that is my life.

    Yes, I am aware that I tire more easily than I used to, I know that deep thinking and processing can leave me bushed. I’m more sensitive to touch, sound, cold, and scent. How much of that is because I am getting older, and how much of that might not be as sensitive had I learned who I was when I was younger and thus been able to better honor myself, fighting less against the tides of my life. Perhaps a few less gray hairs, less lines around my eyes or mouth, less anxiety. All questions that I don’t have an answer to, but I suspect maybe that would have been the case.

    Now, as confirmation is about to be given to me in the next few days of my Aspieness, I’m thinking more about what has already been rattling around in my mind. Simplifying, letting go of so many of the things I’ve collected over the years that I thought I needed or that needed to define me. They are things, things that take energy to clean, move, dust, maneuver around each day. They amount to clutter and I realize they are a bit of a drain, to a lessor or a greater degree. I’d rather that bit of collection that I don’t need be an open space, a blank canvas open to possibility. I’d rather use that dusting and cleaning energy to go for a walk in the woods, roam the beach for driftwood or a shell, or write or draw. I could also use that time to visit with family, go to a museum. I could sell all of those collections and put the money away for retirement.

    Just as I am now more clear about what drains me, I am rediscovering what fills me up. Remembering the things that bring me joy, peace, happiness. Those things I mentioned above do that. Beauty, ease, nature, the ocean, quiet. What I’m thinking about these days is how I can deepen those things as I get older. That is where I desire to give of my energy, and receive of as well. I think that those things will counteract the fatigue, the brain fog, and actually act as a healing and balancing balm.

    I’m asking these questions now, about my work, my relationships, my home, where I live. What and how can I shift, in ways that support me and our family in a healthy and positive manner, in an easy and effortless way. 🙂

    1. I did a huge amount of simplifying before a big cross country move a few years ago, but I’ve slowly started to accumulate things again, as one does. :-/ But the process was very cleansing when I did it and felt good for a long time afterwards.

      I think that as we get older, we get hit doubly hard with a sort of decaying of our coping strategies compounding the normal age-related fatigue and age-related fatigue making it harder to cope for as long or as hard as we used. It feels like a bit of a vicious circle if we’re not careful and vigilant.

      1. Just seeing your comment. Great thoughts. Yes, I did a major clean out several years ago, close to 12 years actually and it is for sure time to do it again and keep only what is really important, and the things that I bring in are things that only really bring me joy, happiness, ease. Our youngest has recently done with with a move to a new city so she is an inspiration for me for sure! ❤

  5. If it’s not too much trouble, can you please post a link to the one study you found? I would be anxious to read it, but I can’t seem to find it online.

  6. Thank you all, this is so informative. I am almost 60 with a surviving daughter who is also ASD. I am also clumsy and worry about a serious injury or decline that will make me a burden to my daughter (my daughter has taken several falls herself). Obviously, I am concerned for her welfare as I age and also about her quality of life after I am gone. We started serious planning when she was around 10 years of age. I am exploring the possibilities of co-housing as part of this planning. Does anyone know about or have experience with co-housing for aging persons on the spectrum?

  7. So, I am on distraction from studying for my new MS degree comprehensive exam this coming Wed and I Googled something like what is to be older on the spectrum with Asperger’s. I found this Site and I will flag or favorite it to come back. As I scanned I saw like apprehensives or fears about g”etting old with autism…saw about fear of falling and about losing cognitive abilities. Geeeezus….I am almost 73. I screened positive for Asper;ger’s a couple years ago almost as I was studying about disabilities, a three course graduated series about Disabilities, intellectual, learning, and physisical. As I read the assignment on autism and Asperger’s I realized…OMG….I am reading about me, that’s me. You know, I don’t know for sure if I was better off not knowing or knowing…now I am intense about learning more about this new thing to me, …sheeeet….new thing to me I know about that I have been my whole life. Now, there’s new meaning to me about “I don’t know what I don’t know” and “Don’t think everything you believe is true is true”. Anyway, back to fear of falling and losing cognitive ability. Well, for me…just me….I somehow got into fitness age 62 and that took me to my new MS degree (almost there) in Exercise Science, AKS Exercise Physiology. I know exercising can be done at what ever level one is capable of doing and the ability can still be improved if one just does it….and, that will/does help with keeping things (won’t go into the science of balance (physical) here). So, exercise, eh! And, re cognitive ability….it is an accidental thing I did re cognitive stuff….but, I tell you there is science that if we exercise our brains we help to keep them working, too. Whisky Tango Foxtrot, take courses, learn stuff, really study hard stuff…like chemistry almost killed me…not literally, but I was able to do it. Even acting and memorizing parts of a play….JUST DO IT, EH…BYE…BACK TO STUDY….BARRY

    1. Hey Barry, thanks for the post! I’m 64, self diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago and have also wondered about the aging effect. I’m very active too and know that it helps big time. I also know that not understanding limits & not recognizing when I exceeded them too much too long cumulated in serious mental health issues. Now I’m not sure if I have the resources to fully recover. As I already failed to recognize reasonable challenge levels I don’t know if I’ll be able to tread that fine line between enough challenge to build confidence and the amount of challenge that will cause breakdown. Age has at least given me the wisdom to identify that issue so perhaps I also have the wisdom to solve it. Life is an ongoing adventure!

  8. ….Hey Aleda, Neat comments you have made. Think I will share some thoughts about some of what you wrote.

    Hey Barry, thanks for the post! I’m 64, self diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago and have also wondered about the aging effect.

    I started out maybe a couple years ago with what I call self-screening positive. I was taking a graduate series of three classes in my exercise science program (aka exercise physiology) MS program on disabilities, learning, intellectual, and physical. For one of the classes I was reading an assignment on and studying about autism…as I was reading about Asperger’s I realized I was reading about myself. I took I don’t know how many screening tests on the Internet and elsewhere and always positive, very positive, positive even if I tried to scheme the test with my own known adaptations. I researched to find opinions on whether or not, like at my age, should I get a diagnosis. I ask myself why, what purpose would it serve. Well, the bottom line of everything I read was to do it, so I set out to get it done….wow….at least in the Albuquerque, a good size city, area it is hard to find someone with the right credentials, and on top of being “paper on the wall” qualified, to even be knowledgeable/experienced to be able to diagnose an old(er) adult….even the local university teaching hospital with a department that does teach and serve the community regarding autism could not do it. One psychologist claimed to be qualified, but I found I was teaching her and she just claimed to be qualified…she had the certificate on the wall that said she was. Eventually between me and my counselor I got, we found someone and even that was a bit of a struggle to complete with this allegedly capable neurological psychologist.

    I think with the aging effect….guess I’d call it experience adaptations that happen as years go by, we do adapt to our shortcoming, but probably in different ways.

    I’m very active too and know that it helps big time.

    What is the saying about idle hands? Anyway, at least for me, I guess it is just by pure luck that somehow my being active has help to bless me with doing things that keep my body young(er), keep my brain active and healthy, and generally keep me going. It has interfered with my wife’s expectations for retirement stereotype things and what she expected I would be doing for her regarding her desires to travel and visit people and such…. I don’t see myself ever being social with a bunch of old fogies. I will keep doing endurance athletics until I no longer can and, as I call it, playing with the 20 year olds and the younger people. I don’t much socialize with them, but many are my friends….and, soon will be looking for a job in my new career….I figured what I want to do when I grow up within the last 5 years…and at 73 will start to do it after I graduate with a new MS in another week….Yes, I am telling you….agreeing with you….being very active helps big time…and we have no limits we will find unless we move and try things until we find themk.

    I also know that not understanding limits & not recognizing when I exceeded them too much too long cumulated in serious mental health issues.

    Wow, …would you believe a valuable lesson…a hard one to learn…is being sensible about limits. I read, learned in class, when coaching or training people like us, or rehabbing them as I now have done…we have to be…or it helps to be…aware that some of us will push to where we actually physically hurt ourselves….even having done it personally too many times, I am aware I might do it again…The last time I tore my left hamstring and compromised the tendon attachment to the sit-bone was just such a case when I decided to see if I could outsprint my classmates in one of the assessment classes….geeeeze. But, what the hay, we recover and learn from it, become more aware. Regarding the mental health part….me…I’m so lucky…have no real idea why I wasn’t seriously bullied as a youngster and somehow over the years developed this attitude that I know I am OK, I mostly measure myself against myself, don’t try to be anyone buy me and don’t much give a rats behind about what others think…it is about me, not them. Sure, I’d like to be more handsome and be smarter and be able to outrun and out cycle (especially up hills), and outswim the people I train with,….but, I am OK with knowing I do the best I can. I have been known to say I accept my last Half Marathon or Marathon time was what it was, but I’m not satisfied with it and want to do it over and do better next time. Seems we have to, need to, recognize “it is what it is” and deal with it…that said, I did lean it is good for me to have a counselor, a therapist if you will, to visit with for an hour a couple times or more a month who is valuable for helping me to be aware when I am or getting “out of line”. When we talk about something “stupid” or possibly considered irrational I’ve done or do, he is super at checking and assessing whether or not I am mentally OK with myself.

    Now I’m not sure if I have the resources to fully recover. As I already failed to recognize reasonable challenge levels I don’t know if I’ll be able to tread that fine line between enough challenge to build confidence and the amount of challenge that will cause breakdown.

    I was facing what most consider a life threatening situation a few year ago and all around me kept telling me I should be scared and fearful because everyone is. I was not at all and began to think about they are all telling me it is not normal not to be…so eventually I had a good discussion with a friend who has a chronic form of leukemia that keeps coming back and for which he continually has chemo therapy…. asked Mike how he always maintains such an up beat, always, I mean always with no exception super positive attitude…I still remember he looked at me and responded “Barry, it is all attitude”. Wow, how simple and yet how wise…yep…it is all attitude….with the right attitude, you can do it….if you don’t have the attitude you need right now, you can get it, you can determine to have it and you will have it….yes, you can, you actually can build the confidence…you have to know and be ready for things will never be just don’t expect or in mind require them to be perfect…there are/will be challenges and you just manage them as best you can and when you don’t find the results like you wanted them, well, you just keep working on it to get them to be the best you can get them to be and that’s that….it is what it is.

    Age has at least given me the wisdom to identify that issue so perhaps I also have the wisdom to solve it. Life is an ongoing adventure!

    Life is an ongoing adventure…and live it to the full as best you can. My HIV positive friend who has been HIV positive I guess from the 80s often tells me how he cherishes every six months between checkups and each and every day when he wakes up….I told someone wrote a book about him….It is titled Look me in the Eyes…by John Robinson elder…think I have the author correct…yep, Matthew, my friend is an Aspie..and, wow, what a talented full of life 58 year old he is…and I do my best to keep up with him when we go cycling and drink beer…a good friend…by the way, one of my I guess three friends. Best to you.

    1. Hi Barry
      I really like your comment about attitude, that’s a big help to me right now. I’m learning to take smaller bites of social demands so that if they are too much it won’t be drastic. With an ‘I can do this carefully and well’ attitude success is forseeable. I have been caught in an attitude of ‘I’m too wrecked to ever get better’ which doesn’t have to be true.
      You also face the additional challenge of aging with a spouse, not always an easy balancing act. As you say, she has her expectations of what retirement should be and you have different ones. That was part of my training as a Recreation Therapist; identifying an individuals expectations of retired life and respecting them, helping them meet their needs without demanding they change their basic lifestyle. I wish the two of you success in navigating this challenge.
      Now there’s an idea, I can treat myself as a case; do an assessment and come up with a care plan! That appeals to my love of plans, love of list making, & having a routine.
      It was interesting to hear how much difficulty you had getting qualified assistance, now I am less frustrated by the lack of same here in our rural area. I feel I can stop looking for help that isn’t even there and get on with helping myself. Such a typically autistic thing, to start looking for help & be unable to stop after what others perceive as reasonable effort with no result. I just keep on plugging. Perseverating. You’ve helped jog me onto a new path, this is a good thing.
      Thanks for your thoughts Barry if you want to chat

  9. I am 53. My epiphany came watching my Father’s final year. He was in some ways high functioning and some ways lower functioning than me. ASD is strange and unpredictable that way. He’d been hale and hearty well into his 70s but his ASD appeared to hinder him more and more with time. The last year was one of rapid decline. It was difficult for me to tell what was ASD and what was dementia. My suspicion was more the former – most especially the melt downs. Mercifully the final months were in home hospice. One other important detail, although it nearly happened during his 50s he never was divorced. My very hale and hearty Mother was an advocate and key support. That we may all have such, during our twilight days. Having witnessed all of this, quite honestly, I am going to set up very liberal POA, an aggressive DNR and will specify medically assisted life termination to be imparted at the minimal legal criteria for doing so.

  10. I am 59 I get sick more. That messes with my use of language. Hunting for words and not finding them is increasing when I am sick. I teach science did not know I was asd till 54. My intellect is my asset. I was a talker when young. When not stressed I can be a great teacher. More emotionally disrupted children do disruptive things. Not good for my health or asd. Coping is getting difficult. I want much more quiet these days.

  11. Kudos, Kenna, for talking about this openly. My Neurologist allows me a little “booster” dose for situations and environments with a lot of stimulation. I don’t know what the equivalent might be in your classroom and I wish you every success in working that out (and developing strategies to forestall burnout).

    I have been wondering lately about leaky gut – wondering if I really am getting “sick more,” because of what is in my gut. I admit, however, that if I need down time, for any reason, I withdraw with no apologies. Down-time is part of my personal care plan.

  12. Hi, just found this online and will say hi… I was never officially diagnosed but strong ASD runs on my dad’s side of the family, and I’m clearly a classic example of it. I’m male and will turn 68 in a few months. I’m still pushing myself to do big things… really big things… and in the past have been successful at big things, but I find that as I get older, my abilities are declining. My insomnia, always in the background as a problem, has gotten to the point at which I’m chronically in low-sleep mode. That may be the primary problem which affects all else, or it may not be. I’ve always been a visual thinker but I find that the ability to do visual abstraction and processing is not what it was, leaving me to rely on “words” more, which to my mind is an inferior way of thinking even if it is socially useful. I’ve tended to let myself glide towards a hermit-like “comfort zone” in which I interact with few others; and have consciously challenged myself in that by co-creating a college course and having some of the best students get an opportunity to live in the house and interact with me as a mentor and teacher. Some of my GI problems worsened to the point I needed a gastric bypass (not for obesity, for literal blockage of the duodenum), and while effective that surgery created several new problems. I’m married and the relationship is good, but I really have to force myself to interact with others. I find myself wondering – which is how I happen to be reading this – whether my insomnia & stuff will get inevitably worse, which is not an attractive proposition.

    all best, and thanks to you folks for sharing.


    1. Hello DJ.
      Thanks for sharing those details. I’ve tried to make notes of things I have noticed so that I can give my daughter information that I didn’t have about aging on spectrum. Most of your observations resonate with me. More GI issues, even more bumps and falls, and I can’t wait to get home, close out the world and soak up the peace and quiet. I wasn’t diagnosed formally until I was OK with Blue Cross having that info (i.e., when I needed medication to be able to manage the stimulation in my normal environment, and the anxiety). I’ve been remodeling my little efficiency with the goal of being able to age in place – so far, so good. In order to bolster cognitive concerns, I just stay in school, but I’ve been considering some physical courses to help with my incredible clumsiness. We’ll see how that goes. Kind regards to all, Szynergy

  13. So much of his resonates with me. I am not formally diagnosed but chancing onto blogs such as this one explained so well all the issues I’ve had over the years – I’m now 68. Barry’s note about the psychologist he met struck a chord big time; I recently contacted a well-known NZ psychologist with whom I once had an encounter at high school. It came to nothing – I was tongue-tied and self-concious at the time. Contacting her was yet another mistake; she didn’t remember the encounter but what details I trotted out resulted in her replying with the suggestion that I was suffering from an “anxiety disorder” (funnily enough that her particular speciality) and she sending me a list of books she’d written (which I already knew about – some people seem to spend a lifetime chasing the money, unfair maybe).
    I mentally feel as I did when I was 10 years old and I vividly remember the events that had an impact on me in my younger years. Looking back, my most productive period was my 20s to 40-odd although I still have some innovative ideas in my specialized field. And of course one can’t ignore the body’s deterioration with age and the results of physical traumas over time. I was an active skydiver for a number of years during the ’80s so I don’t think I could be described as anxious. Socially a pariah, definitely.
    The biggest problems I’ve had are relating to others. I never fitted in well in mixed-flatting – was asked to leave once – and just didn’t get making conversation at parties. I usually ended up blobbing out on the sofa to get away from the general hubbub. Small talk made no sense to me at all; I was usually designing electronic stuff in my head while others were prattling on about rugby etc. I always preferred solo pursuits, still do. A few years ago I went tramping solo in the mountains a few times – no GPS, cellphone etc., just bush-sense. On the annual canoe trips I did with workmates back in the ’90s and early 2000s I went exclusively in a kayak; most of the went in Canadians.
    I now spend a lot of time alone in my man-cave (garage) working on electronics and woodworking projects. The car has to live outside. I have always been as self-sufficient as I can possibly be; I repair anything that needs fixing around the house and have probably saved a small fortune by so doing. The only exception to that was getting the house painted professionally a decade ago (and I was not happy with the quality of the work!). I like having as much contrl over my life as possible. Being married for24 years to a high-dependency wife (numerous medical problems, not her fault!) and tendency to hoarding has seen my life descend from being well-ordered and tidy into a maelstrom of chaos. We “met” on the internet; it was a bad idea but I cannot get out of it without losing my safe haven (now matrimonial property), a place I had already fully paid for by the time I married. I feel sad.

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