I have several adult friends who are Autistic. They range from people like my younger Brother; physically an adult (he’s 22 this year) but mentally younger in some aspects of his life… to people like a fellow author who is also a Teacher in the USA. I also have a friend who has only just discovered that she is Autistic.
The thing is, you cannot cure Autism. It’s something that you learn to live with, to put into place coping mechanisms in order to deal with things that Allistic people seem to breeze through.
When kids are diagnosed with it (and it’s useful to get it done as early as possible) there are all sorts of things available for them, both Government based / supported and Charity based, to help them learn to deal with their difficulties.
However, there is a growing percentage of people like the friend I mentioned, like my partner and myself, that find that they are on the Autistic Spectrum and go looking for help.
But what help there is for Adult Autistics in the UK is spotty, often dependant on people who are overworked, and the services there are are usually massively underfunded.
In the USA, because of the way their Health system works, while there are a great many more services, they are all expensive to take advantage and if you struggle financially, there is often no money to be had to pay for it… or you end up in massive debt trying to help yourself learn to cope with the world.
Like all Adult Autistics, my friend learned to cope with the world as she grew up, not knowing that she had additional problems – she thought that what she was experiencing was what everyone else was coping with too…
Her recent realisation that she was Autistic came after a year of soul searching, discussion and researching.
To help herself come to terms with this and to document her journey to find an official diagnosis, she started a blog. It’s called “Finally Knowing Me” and if you want to help support her and/or want to know the issues that Adult Autistics face when looking for diagnosis, then it’s an excellent read.
There is still a section of society that labels people with Autism as “difficult”, “lazy”, “badly behaved” and so forth. These are the people that will say things like “You’re not Autistic, that’s a child’s disease.” It’s this kind of attitude that we need to change.
Autistics experience the world differently… except when it comes to dealing with the Allistic world. Then we all get the same problems.
I’m probably the mildest autistic in my family. When I tell people who have never met me before that I’m autistic, they say “You don’t look it…” as if it’s something that they should be able to see. You can tell what they are expecting, especially if they follow up with “What’s your special talent then? All autistics have a special talent, like that film… Rainman wasn’t it?”
I don’t have a special talent that is out of the ordinary. My maths skills are abominable, my writing is higher than average, but not by much and my drawing skills are lower than that again. I do have an ability to pick up new techniques in something that I am interested in though – this is why when I am trying to find teaching work, I market myself as a J.O.A.T (Jack of All Trades) and once I know what I am doing in a subject, I can teach it to almost anyone. It’s also why when someone asks me what my hobby is, I tell them that it’s collecting Hobbies!
Sadly this particular ability isn’t seen as much use in the teaching world (or outside education) and it can cause problems because I don’t have the experience, qualifications or specialisation necessary to be able to fill any one role.
Then of course you have the social difficulty side of autism, which I am better at than most, but which is massively draining for me, because I’m an Introvert… and before you say “Aren’t all autistics introverts?”, they aren’t; for example, my older daughter is an out and out extrovert.
However, this is my problem to have to overcome, because as has already been noted, adult autistics are left to fend for themselves… adrift in a world that doesn’t care about them unless they can be useful for something or they make waves of some sort.
If you feel like making some waves with me… let’s open the discussions in social media and try and bring the Allistic World in on them. We can’t change society hiding away from it.
Hashtags you can use (with my blessing) for this effort: