It’s Okay to Be Happy and Supportive of Late ASD Diagnosis

Shoveling snow today with the goal of getting off the mountain tomorrow for a much needed few days break. 🙌

Remember my joking about being an excellent candidate for a case study?
Ha. Okay maybe it was my private joke.

Well I am now participating in several studies around the US in an effort to understand autism better. And what I am really hoping for is someone, ANYONE, does a study about..specifically women autists..since we do have specific to us traits and masking (adapting) things going on.
I have yet to see this happen unless something is going on I’m not aware of but I’m hopeful. Maybe someday women will receive the same kind of attention given to men in way of research and care. Maybe! Someday! 🤪
But I’m glad I can contribute in some way. I want this to be easier to be diagnosed at an earlier age for those of us where it’s not so surface obvious and simply understood. And accepted. First comes the understanding part by talking about it.
Very personal to me. For obvious reasons. I really want to see a better understanding and acceptance AND taking away this very awkward thing that goes on with folks who don’t understand it. Myself included. I didn’t truly understand it either at first. A year ago I would of been that person unsure of how to react when someone told me they were diagnosed autistic. Simply because the information was not readily available and common knowledge. It doesn’t have to be that way.

One thing I want to say to help with understanding is this..if someone shares with you that they were diagnosed autistic…it’s okay to feel happy for them. I promise. It’s okay to share their relief of finally knowing and having a name for something that is the CORE of their existence. (It’s our brain..not cancer..not a disease…it’s a physical part of us that is simply wired differently that we were born with and will have with us for life that was passed on to us through genes.)
Some may struggle with a diagnosis but most of who are late diagnosed are incredibly relieved to finally have a road map…a guide for all the things we knew were different about us and knew we struggled with or excelled at..but didn’t have a name or reason for it.

Should you get a “congrats you’re autistic” card? A cake? Maybe not. lol Unless you’re close enough to someone where this actually wouldn’t be kinda awkward. lol
But over all especially with late diagnosis…having someone to share in the relief of knowing and feeling understood…is good. Sharing with them that that you are so happy they have answers now so they can begin to self care for themselves better is good. We don’t need validation..we don’t need pity…but it’s nice to know people around and are supportive of something very huge in our lives. It can be overwhelming. There is a grieving process of realizing all the moments in your life where had you known this or others known this..maybe different choices could of been made to protect yourself from a lot of genuine trauma. It can be very emotional. But also an incredible amount of relief for our future and how we will navigate life going forward. We do need your positive support.

I share this so you understand and have this bit of knowledge with something not talked about a lot or at all. Now you know how to proceed. The general consensus of late diagnosis autism is genuine relief and happy to finally know. It’s okay to share that relief with someone. We want that and it is appreciated while we process this information that really is nothing short of life changing for that individual. The last thing we need is to feel once again we are weird or awkward or misunderstood. It’s okay to feel relief and happy for us.

And that’s all I have to say about that.
For now.

Sound Sensitivity Tools

Being late 50 yrs old…I can’t count the number of times now where I experience things and understand it in an entirely different way. It is nothing short of a rebirth in a way. A rebirth of understanding myself. The other day I was at a public place and experienced something I had experienced a million times in my life…sound sensory overload. A lot of people talking at once and two different sources of music going on at once. I felt like I was going to explode. I literally felt like crawling out of my skin and felt the STRONG need to get away from all of it. But this time..I knew exactly why I was feeling what I felt. This time I knew without a doubt what was happening and the best way I could take care of myself was to remove myself from the situation. As I had done all my life. But this time..I didn’t beat myself up about it. This time I walked away kinda feeling sad that this was something not allowing me to feel okay and forcing me to leave earlier than I had planned but knowing I was doing the best thing I could for myself and knowing as soon as I got away from the sound overload I would feel better and calm.

I haven’t gone the route of using ear plugs yet. I’ve heard and have read they help. But I just haven’t tried this option yet. I think something in me is still questioning my diagnosis. Still questioning if I really need something and maybe these things are for people who are REALLY autistic. Something in me I guess still in denial that I actually need them. But last Friday it occurred to me..I wonder if they would help in these kinds of situations. Maybe…I do need them and maybe I wouldn’t have to always leave a party early or leave a situation like this. Maybe…there is something that could help me stay and enjoy myself with others.

Wow. What a concept. As soon as I research the crap out of what earplugs would work best for me…I’m going to invest in this tool. I’m going to keep a pair in my purse and maybe..maybe for the first time in my life..I won’t have to remove myself from having fun and feeling like my head will explode. And not feel angry because I feel so many layers of frustration. Not ask someone over and over to repeat themselves because I can not make out what they are even saying with so much background noise. Maybe it is time I admit and be okay with my admitting I do need help.

For most my life I was taught over and over to suck it up and deal. Like everyone else was dealing. Or find ways…like leaving a party or place that was triggering the fuck out of me. Or if at work (bartending) control what I was feeling by focusing on something else. Like washing and cleaning the hell out of the bar where I worked. That bar was spotless while I worked there. Wow. Another realization. I really used changing my focus to deal with all I was naturally feeling.

Now that I’m thinking about this…how the HELL was I a bartender?? How??? And I was a good bartender and I guess again..people either loved me or hated me when I was a bartender. The folks who hated me were the trouble makers but still…I wasn’t the most chatty bartender. How the hell did I pull that off? I guess it helped that it was a small town place but still. My ADHD and age must of been in the lead with that role. I definitely was not the norm there either. I never drank while on the job. I was the only sober person in the place. Wow. Kinda amazing now to think about how I managed a position like that. How I adapted and did things to accomplish that while being incredibly triggered in that position.

But anyway..where was I? Sound sensitivities..and tools. Wow I need tools more than ever. Whatever it was that allowed me to deal when I was not there anymore. I couldn’t imagine being a bartender now. Absolutely no. There must be something with age..something with being worn out from a life of not taking care of myself in the way I needed to that makes a lot of things I used to deal with..just not an option anymore. I need help. And it’s okay to need help.

Again…I am in a weird kinda half acceptance mode. I am in the lightbulb moments of realizing and seeing who I am from a different perspective. I am seeing I have choices now. I have tools now. What am I waiting for?? Why am I hesitant to use some of these tools available to me? Why do I keep having these realization moments but still feeling this “oh I’m not that bad..that’s for people who really need it” kind of mindset? Trained to not be a burden? Trained to not admit I’m any different than anyone else and just need to try to deal harder? I don’t know. But surviving in the way I have is kind of a hard habit to break. Understandably hard.

Ya…I’m going to invest in some earplugs.

Neurodivergent Processing

Teachers…and just people in general….some of us can not help but to process things slower. Not because we don’t understand…but because we absorb every single bit of information naturally and it takes a second to file ALL info we receive. We have detail oriented brains. We see and absorb every single detail compared to neurotypical brains which absorb the big picture automatically and don’t bother so much with the details. Their brains don’t automatically sift through all the details. This neurotypical way of processing is quicker than a neurodivergent way of processing. But neither are wrong.
Let me say that again.

Neither are wrong.

Both have the same results and both are able to comprehend. One simply processes slower because of the amount of information being processed. That’s it. There is no “fix” to this. There is no way to retrain your brain. There is no “just try harder”. The only way to change how we process is to physically remove our brain and insert a neurotypical brain.
Thankfully we havnt gone full on Frankenstein and this isn’t a reality or option.

It is so important to understand this. We will never ever be quick at processing and like how other brains work and to repeatedly expect us to do something our brains literally can not do quickly..over time leads to generalized anxiety disorders in adulthood. The common expectations in daily life in multiple situations does not leave room for different wiring and processing and I’m telling you from experience…it is hurting people unnecessarily. It is tearing away at self confidence unnecessarily. We HAVE to change this idea that there is only one common acceptable way to teach and learn. We have to change this idea that slower = dumb or not as bright. This is factually not true. We have to get to a common understanding that there are in fact many different ways to reach the same conclusion and answer.

There are so many people out there who stopped trying because they were told over and over in so many different ways that they wouldn’t be able to keep up or make their brain process quicker.. so why bother. The risk of this being pointed out..put on the spot…the risk of being and feeling humiliation made things not worth trying. The frustration felt alone trying to force your brain to do something it wasn’t designed to do and could not be forced to do has devastating affects on a humans well being. A simple logistics thing turned into an emotional shut down response. So many shut down. I did. In an environment where I was not granted patience and time…I chose to shut down. I went into survival mode. My brain said nope we know how this will end…I don’t trust me or you..shut er down.
In environments where I was given time…I excelled. With teachers who noticed my different way of processing…I excelled. It’s just as simple as that. We have to change this old fashioned narrative that all brains process the same in the same amount of time and if they don’t…they are inadequate in some way.

And that’s my Thursday rant.