Hoffmann Foundation for Autism
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Is autism diagnosis worth having at age 72?

I believe now that I am on the autism spectrum, many years after having noticed at a very young age that my reactions to situations, and my communication difficulties, were different to my peers, even my family. I just thought it was me, that I was struggling because perhaps I was shy, but as I grew older, in my teens, I saw that I needed to try to behave like others, try to learn how they reacted, and to rehearse their clever responses, which I somehow always found difficult to follow! Eventually I became more adept at communication skills, but I always hated large groups, or meeting people, as I knew I would soon begin to falter, and my difficulty would soon become obvious. I even had to walk out of parties or noisy groups, as no way could I keep up with what was being discussed, more than one person chatting at a time always confused me. I had very few friends, no long-term friends, as I am sure I would have been hard work...and could never keep a good, deep relationship. I have been married twice, have had relationships, but they have always ended badly as I cannot maintain a proper relationship with anyone. I either end it or they do, it goes nowhere, even where love is involved. I am lucky to have three lovely grown-up children though, but I still have difficulty in communicating with them; I easily become exhausted with the strain of following several trains of conversation at one time, even among family groups, so I tend to withdraw, and it appears that I am not interested...which I am. Its all very upsetting for me. I have become fairly adept at "masking" my behaviour, and copying how others react, but after a short time, I am sure it becomes obvious to others that my "mask" is slipping, and then I feel like a fake and a failure.! Work-wise, I knew I could not work in a large group, so I went for positions where I could either work on my own or with as few others as possible. And so I managed with these tricks, throughout my life. I once tried to talk to some family members about this, but autism was not understood, especially by me, when I was young, so I just got told that I was difficult, silly or unpopular! I do like people, I jusy wish I was able to be relaxed and natural with them, I dont know what its like to be "myself"... Another strange thing is that I thought my family would understand about my possible autism, but my youngest child, who has an diagnosed autistic child herself, just said "everyone has some autism in them" and dismissed the idea! But I know I'm a nice person, who appreciates good kind people, and I love animals. Its easy being with my cats, as they dont expect anything from me, and love me just as I am. I am better with the written word than spoken, so I can manage my Facebook account well, and have many "friends" on Facebook. For some reason I can communicate well this way! I expect its because the terms of communication are in my hands lietrally so I can keep control of the situation. I am sorry to rabbit on...lol...its so rare to be able to express myself regarding my problems...I will try to make an appaointment with my doctor about being autism assessed...but I havent much courage, and the doctor sees me as confident and normal..which I can manage to be with day-to-day relationships. He will be surprised, and I will become upset, as I will have to remove my mask! I have done the AQ test with the results I expected so I will try to follow through with the next step...

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There are different reasons why people seek a diagnosis. With children it is often so that extra help can be gained at school, sometimes it will be so that it is easier to obtain certain benefits. I know a number of people who were diagnosed as young adults and for them all it was a relief to finally just have some answers as to why their way of thinking varied to others, it sounds to me like this is what you need. You could try approaching your GP but sometimes they do not offer as much help as one would like. I have some involvement with this charity actionforaspergers.org/diag... who as well as offering formal diagnosis also do a more informal assesment which might be appropriate for you. They are based in Northamptonshire UK and also have an outreach surgery in North Wales.

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Hi corriefan,

Thank you so much for your reply. Yes, I realise that getting a diagnosis at my stage in life wouldn't benefit me that much now, but it would definitely help me broach the subject with friends and family, and give me closure as to why I have been like this all my life! Its the not knowing what or why you are this way that is the hardest to deal with because you cannot begin to explain to others without some officially recognised explanation to back you up.

I will try the action for aspergers link you gave me, many thanks again!

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Hi Bunny4jeff,

I don't have much experience with autism, but I just wanted to wish you good luck with your attempt at obtaining a diagnosis, and think you're brave for doing so. I'm sure your family will be supportive and understanding, and I hope you'll eventually come to feel more able to be 'yourself' around other people. I think everyone wears a mask to a certain extent, even with people they know and love, and most people experience feelings of alienation at some point too - regardless of their position on the spectrum.

Good luck again

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Hi Rhulk,

Thank you for your reply, I'm sure you're right about many of us wearing a "mask", we all feel inadequate at times. I noticed from way back though, that I feel like that all the time, in front of others, no matter who they are, or how well I know them. I just adapt to how I think I should be, and am now pretty convincing at that :-). I am only completely "myself" with my cats; they dont judge me...unless I forget to feed them, lol! There are quite a few things I do or feel, I have not even listed which I can see don't apply to others, or not obviously so. I even cross the road to avoid making small talk or conversation, with absolutely everyone. I am more comfortable not communicationg with a soul; that can't be "normal...but many thanks for your support; I'll make that appointment, and will let you know how I get on!

Best regards

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Hello Bunny4jeff. You mention that you use Facebook - I highly recommend this group: m.facebook.com/groups/13415... (Autistic Allies), and their offshoot support groups. We're all adults who either are autistic, suspect that we're autistic, or allies of people who are autistic. You may find that it's a source of insight into the lives of other people who are autistic - and the support groups are also often entertaining.

All best wishes for your continuing self-discovery!

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Hello Serennos,

Thank you for that, I'll check that group out.... xx

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Hello Bunny4jeff. I just read your post and wanted to reply. I have no experience of autism so I'm afraid I can't speak to that, but I just wanted to say that you sound lovely and of course it's worth you having a diagnosis if you want it, 72 or not. We all deserve to have as much understanding of ourselves as we want and if it would help you discuss how you feel with your family of course you should ask for a diagnosis. It sounds as though you have felt a lot of sadness and that's a real shame. For what it's worth, I think you'll find that most people have a "mask" they put on - me for one. As a reserved reflective introvert who has always worked in a career requiring me to be confident and dynamic and outgoing I've had a veneer for most of my life - exhausting! But anyway, it sounds like underneath your "mask" is a very nice person who has raised lovely children. I wish you luck and hope that any extra information you get helps you feel a little more comfortable with being "yourself". Best wishes.

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Hi trix44...

Thank you so much for your response... feeling overwhelmed at your extremely kind words, especially as you don't know me personally... it's quite a rare thing, well, in my experience anyway, for anyone to offer such support and encouragement, and took me by surprise x but I am very grateful! I haven't actually made the appointment to see my doctor yet, but your encouragement gives me the gentle push I needed, that I wouldn't be wasting his time after all, and that the result, whatever it turns out to be, will be giving me an answer, a reason for how I have felt all my life up to now. To have peace of mind now will be worth all the confusion of the past if it means the jigsaw pieces fall finally into place 😊

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Hi Bunny4jeff

I read the posts and just wanted to say that I have just been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at 51 and wanted to encourage you to consider it really.

At last my life makes sense. But I will be honest and say that I have also been upset and cried quite a bit initially.

Now I am starting to feel stronger (only got diagnosed a few days ago it’s all happening so quick and I am up and down). I am still unsure if I will be completely open to everyone about it. I have told a few people at work, supervisor and manager, as it does effect my work and I need support.

I was surprised that I felt embarrassed to share it with them when I did. Now I feel annoyed at myself for feeling like that (maybe it was their reactions I am not sure yet) and want to be real about who I am for the first time in my life really.

My husband thinks I should give it some time before I do completely come out about it with everyone as he knows how sensitive I can be at negative responses from people and I think he’s right.

But I am certain that I have done the right thing and just wanted to encourage you to go for it really.

I feel much more relaxed and myself with my dog I always have preferred animals company since a child. And yes I will avoid talking to people just like you explained. I do like people and wish I could relax with them but I just can’t. I can act very well at pretending to be fine but it’s exhausting and I want it to end quickly.

All the best with your journey of discovery. You are precious and unique and deserve to understand and know yourself x

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Hi jenfd...

Thank you so much for taking the time to offer me encouragement and support, and for being brave enough to disclose your own Aspergers diagnosis! I expect is is a big relief really to have it recognised by other people, what you have felt all your life; it must feel like a weight off your shoulders, and as time goes on, and you learn more about the condition, and people around you finally come to understand why you are like you are, life will become easier and less of a strain as you wont have to put up a front, and can learn to relax and truly be yourself! I'm still struggling to get up the courage to see the doctor; I think I'll see a lady doctor, one who doesn't really know me, so it won't be such a shock to both of us lol, when she finds out I'm nothing like the person she/they thought I was...lol again. I will react by either laughing unsuitably/nervously, or breaking down in tears. It will be hard for me, as I'm sure it was for you. I admire your bravery; I hope I can do it too! I will let you know. I have heard there is a long waiting list for the test here, how long did you have to wait, or did you go private? Thank you again!

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Hi Bunny4jeff

Thank you for your reply , yes it is starting to feel like a relief. I am getting mixed reactions from work. Some are saying they would never have known and another that she isn’t surprised. But as you say it’s starting to feel nice that I can just relax and be myself. I was actually able to say for the first time today;that’s why I don’t come to the team get togethers because I just find it exhausting. I usually make up a false story about being busy lol.

My manager is treating me a bit like a leper on the other hand and mentioned that this could become difficult. I have worked there for 8 years already it’s like she thinks I will morph into another being because I have a diagnosis, strange, but I expect I will have to get used to a bit of prejudice from some.

Yes I know what you mean about your doctors. I also acted extremely well and convinced mine over the years that I was the most sociable and normal person on the planet, Due to this I opted to go private.

I did burst into tears and actually I could be myself because they didn’t know me so I felt more confident about it. I didn’t have to convince them I just stopped acting and it was so freeing to be honest at last about who I am.

I am looking forward to the future but I do feel sad at the same time. I am not sure why. I have reflected a lot on the past and how things might have been different if only I knew sooner. I can’t seem to stop that mental processing somehow. It is a weird experience knowing something new about yourself.

Yes I have also heard the waiting list is long on the nhs. I hope you find your path soon xx

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