We live many years of our lives trying to understand ourselves as humans. In fact, it seems a lot easier for us to get a peek into the lives of other persons than into our own lives. Whether as toddlers, teenagers or full-grown adults, we have to learn this and that, every now and then; learn why some people laugh when they suffer losses; why some are indifferent to urgent matters; even why couples cuddle or kiss when they feel certain emotions; or why some of us seem to abhor loud parties; or why we have all these perceptions about other people. As such we find, sooner or later, that we’ve accumulated a lot of information about ourselves and others, yet knowing full well that a lot is left uncovered.
It all seems normal to you until you wake up one morning to learn, from one such fellow who slings the rubber snake around their neck, that you didn’t really know yourself: that some subliminal force was responsible for your every action.That it-could-have-been-worse expression on your face makes the doctor think you aren’t surprised at the news, perhaps only a bit perplexed. The same is the story of people who get a diagnosis of autism later in life.
Although experts say autism is a lifelong disorder, it is usually first diagnosed in childhood and only sometimes in adulthood. Recently, the trend of positive autism diagnosis among adults has improved a lot and many adults have been diagnosed with this disorder.
Autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder affects the development of certain areas in the brain that control speech, communication, and socialization. It has been described as a spectrum which encompasses several other disorders, including Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and a host of others.
Hence, it is clear why the symptoms vary from one autistic to another. The term high-functioning has been used to describe autistic people who can speak, write, and handle some activities that require skills without assistance.
In adults, the person may have a feeling there’s something different about them from what is usual in others but they can’t tell what exactly is wrong. Thus when they finally get the diagnosis, they are often not taken aback as they had sensed it. Rather the feeling is that of how to cope with it.
Chances are that before people are diagnosed with autism in adulthood they had found possible ways of managing and coping with the problems associated with it, such as the stereotyping, stigma and prejudice.
On the flip side, chances are that they have difficulty coping with these problems. They grow up with the feeling that something is wrong with them. They can feel it but can’t place. Perhaps, they have been taken to a doctor at a younger age and got a diagnosis quite different from autism.
The diagnosis must have been related to autism in a way. It could have been ADHD or Asperger’s Syndrome. They might have also noticed they had a sensory processing disorder but the prevailing symptoms were not sufficient to point towards autism.
In such cases, the person may be either over-sensitive or a bit sensitive to certain stimuli like bright light, sound, touch or hug. So they live with these problems without a clue of why they are different.
When later in adulthood they are diagnosed with autism, their lives change eventually. First, they now understand what the problem has been. They now feel a sense of calm and can now link the symptoms they’ve always experienced together.
Imagine that you walked into a vast room with large whiteboards stuck into the wall on every end. You see three other people go each to a different end of the room and pulled out a board each and left with it. You decide to try it out on the only one left and when you tugged at it, it wouldn’t budge.
You don’t know why it wouldn’t come off. And you begin to imagine how easily the other folks pulled it off, then you tugged at it again and again until you started getting exasperated. Then, a sudden flash of brilliance hit you and you decided to twist it around. And it did budge. Whoa, what joy! Soon you had it detached from the wall.
This is exactly how an autism diagnosis in adulthood changes the entire lifestyle. These persons have lost years trying to figure what’s wrong and the answer to the puzzle of their lives came around when they were older.Now, they are better placed to manage the symptoms and seek therapy and adhere strictly to it, unlike when they never had an idea at all.