Growing Older on the Autism Spectrum
What about our Aspie Elders?
Any Older Aspies Finding Their Symptoms Getting Worse?
"Growing up undiagnosed, I managed to come up with many coping behaviors for my symptoms on my own. Starting in my 40s, however, my symptoms had become more pronounced and my coping behaviors less effective. This has led to issues at work with multi-tasking and sound sensitivity amongst others, which is what led to me getting diagnosed. I was curious if any other aspies have had a similar experience?
Edit: In case anyone else finds this while looking for help I will post some links here from my google searches on Aspie burnout.
Hopefully these help somebody understand what is going on like they did for me.
Aging with Aspergers. This is an issue that has been on my mind since my last birthday. I am having a harder time socially as I get older. Online, there are other aging Aspies who attest to this too. With multiple betrayals combined with the emotional realities of having to go no contact so wonder I got worn out. There were so many betrayals in a short period of time!
From the reddit link above one lady wrote:
"Sarah Hendrickx said something to the effect that women with ASD get exhausted from trying to bend and wearing a mask for so long, so that in our late thirties and forties we start to wear down, and the Asperger's becomes more obvious, so many women are diagnosed in that age range. She compared women on the spectrum with uncooked spaghetti, rigid, but always bending to fit in, until we eventually break. I think it's in this video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rPD_yzMHJls
This is definitely true. Trying to fit in, takes so much energy. It really does. I'm tired. This is what Aspergers people can call cloaking. It's not like wearing masks like the personality disordered but making sure we communicate properly with others and practicing social skills. There is a lot of feel the fear and do it anyway moments for those on the autistic spectrum. Us Aspies learn specific social skills to stay employed and to manage in the world, but we get worn down. But even then people note our differences and if we are around toxic people we can be made to pay big time. I got tired of people always telling me I was wrong or second guessing me. I got tired of being the round peg, everyone else wants to hammer down in the square hole.
While I always knew I was different, there was part of me who ignored it and pushed these feelings underground to compensate and "fit in". I wanted to connect with others and did. Lately however I am less successful at it. As I have gotten older, it has gotten harder to hide my Aspergers. It takes energy to maintain a public and social face always saying the "right things". I had far less social energy to put out too even from medical fatigue. I faced a lot of abuse by people out to correct me or saw every fault as their job to correct. Aspergers was a major vulnerability around narcissists. As people who read this blog know, I have had some severe social disappointments and betrayals especially in the last few years.
The recovering ACON part of me doesn't want to self censorship anymore, while with the Aspie side, I trained myself to appear a certain way to stay employed when I was young. The two are clashing with each other.
While facets of Aspergers will improve for a young and healthy 20 and 30 something who learn new skills, for aging Aspies as the above articles illustrate, things can get harder. Add deafness and physical fatigue to the stew-pot and it's even more difficult. Many of the Aspies in those links hitting their middle aged years talk about worsening Aspergers symptoms and just feeling too tired to keep up the "fitting in". I definitely relate. Keeping up with people for me has gotten harder and harder.
Like yesterday, I even went to Facebook guy and asked him what happened in a friendly manner, and he said, "Oh I'll befriend you right now, it was a misunderstanding!" and I went home and the friend request had been cancelled. Why do people wear so many masks around here? I do believe in my rural area, the people were more down to earth, but here, the mentality is so much different. I can barely stand it. What did I miss? Why are some of them so mean? I never had one harsh word with this particular guy. The rules seem far harder in this area. Working class and rural poor people seem much more direct while in this upper middle class place, the social rules are so convoluted, I got lost long ago. There's some nice people even here, but the mean ones are so high in number.
I just don't want to play the "please like me" games anymore. I've been hurt way too much. I know things could be worse, I know Aspies who have no one, I have a loving husband and long distant friends. The toll however of "just being me" in this world, dealing with the severe obesity, the health troubles and Aspergers has worn me out. My husband has told me, he knows I am tired and wants me to take a social break, just go to things that you like to do and let this stuff go. He is struggling too in some of these areas as well and has been surprised by some people's behavior.
One thing I told my husband is, when I was younger, people seemed to allow for some quirks and being "behind". There was this idea that a 30 something could be a "late bloomer" but now that I am middle aged, and beyond so far behind my peers [this not just due to Aspergers but the physical differences] the expectations got far higher and I was not measuring up. Many women will talk about growing more invisible as they age too.
I feel far more wary of people then I used to. Too many bad experiences lately have taken me to this place. I feel very burned out. Some neurotypical people have said "It's not just you, people are getting meaner and crazier. "It's not your Aspergers, people are nuts today!" I do think as one ages all the learning to compensate for Aspergers and trying to "fit in" one gets burned out, I am there now. It was a relief to learn online that others on the autistic spectrum relate to this.