Hello and welcome to this blog talking about Autism and asking about the age of diagnosis…what’s it like if you were diagnosed at a late stage in life…not when you are young?
I read an article recently in the Independent and saw a woman called Laura James talk about how she only found out about her Autism at the age of 45 and that just jumped out at me as alarming…how does anyone make it just about half way through a lifetime not knowing something like that? It explains that she always had certain struggles such as noise exposure, sounds, smells and even food textures that others around her did not have but she couldn’t understand why…until one day, she had her answer!
She was being tested for a condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which is a genetic connective tissue disorder when a nurse must of picked up on certain traits related to Autism…perhaps. It was a discovery that answered many questions as to how she reacted to certain things and she was unsure because she was a journalist and owns her own communications agency whereas many people with Autism can struggle to find full time work. In the UK, only 16 per cent of Autistic Adults are reported to be in full time work and 32 per cent in some type of paid work, ranging from Part time work, Apprenticeships to Zero hour contracts.
For me, 45 seems like a very late age to suddenly discover something like this! I mean you’ve been a baby, a child, a teenager, a young adult and now your just about midway through your life…a lot of milestones have already been reached but at this age, would finding out that you have Autism be an issue, or would it be that answer to a lifelong question that has been nibbling away in your mind and you have a bit of closure about it all?
Another question I got from this was how on Earth is it that someone can get to 45 before discovering this? Then as I read more of the article…it became clear that the main issue that prevented any of this was the gender…for a long time now, Autism has pretty much been assumed to be a male dominated condition and even today, many women could possibly be undiagnosed, so this is probably the main reason why Laura James was only diagnosed recently.
I was 13 when I was finally told that I was Autistic and as I’ve said on many occasions in the past, it was a body blow…one that took me 5 years to get over before I could start working at what my problems were and overcoming them to the point that they no longer affect what I do on a daily basis….I still have some odd moments where I might have a small meltdown here and there but it is far removed from 2003 when I was first told! A different tale to Laura James in discovery but I feel that a similarity is that in the present, it doesn’t badly affect either of our lives, we both work, are both married and happy and we have ways of dealing with our Autism, like exercise, talking to loved ones and getting plenty of rest.
On the issue why men seem to be diagnosed much easier than women when it comes to Autism, Laura James thinks this is because research into Autism is conducted mostly on males and that in popular culture, autistic females are pretty much excluded….well minus this one
Perhaps as of right now, men are diagnosed a lot more then women are and the stereotype that it’s a male dominated condition still exists today! When I think of it…most shows I have watched that have an autistic character in it…it’s 9/10 a male! I’ll admit that the point is to get the awareness of Autism out into the wide world but it also sends the wrong message that only males can have Autism at the same time.
On a side note, I saw how she went on to discuss about common misconceptions when it comes to Autistic people that simply aren’t true, such as lack of Empathy. I’ll borrow a quote from the article as it speaks about a common misconception regarding Autism and Empathy which I wrote about recently by clicking the blue link!
“The biggest misconception is that we don’t feel empathy,” James argues. “This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many autistic people say they feel it too strongly. Others say they feel it, but need to respond with a practical solution, which can come across as being a bit cold. The autistic people I have met have been amongst the kindest, most compassionate and genuine I have ever met.” – Lara James
Does being diagnosed at a certain age matter in the long term of things? It can depend on how much you have Autism and how much help you have in your daily life, whether it be education, work or just general life…we’re all different so it affects us differently so maybe for some, it’s better to be diagnosed as early as possible but perhaps for some, a late diagnosis can just fill the void and give clarification to your wonders on why a baby’s scream really hurts your ears compared to a friends or family member’s response or why you really hate a cucumber’s texture!
Laura James has been able to live a pretty successful life without knowing she had Autism and when we did find out, it brought peace to her and a long lingering mystery of her life had been found out, she can know go on as a successful and proud autistic woman, who to be honest is treat just like everyone else around her because no one really knew she even had Autism and opinions have not changed because of it…funny how not knowing can make people treat you the respect that an average person gets but when your young and don’t know what Autism is….things can sometimes be a little different which is why we need more awareness and more women need to be diagnosed as well.
WHEN WERE YOU DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM?
Were you diagnosed after the age of 40? If you were, what was it like to finally know? Or were you diagnosed at a much younger age say, 10 or younger? I assume that the majority would be diagnosed at the younger age but I do know that sometimes, it can happen much later in life but that’s not really ever talked about though, is it because it’s rare, or just not that much of a big deal?
Thanks For Reading