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Astera
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:16 am    Post subject: Getting more autistic with age? Reply with quote

Actually this is what made me start looking into ASD several months ago. I feel like I'm becoming more autistic with age.
Many articles say that autistic traits in children tend to fade or become disguised with age, because of coping mechanisms and all - that's what makes adults much harder to diagnose. Makes perfect sense, but for me it's like the other way around.

(Note: I've never been diagnosed and, most likely, won't be in the foreseeable future, so everything I'm writing here is just my own observations.)

I've always been introverted and shy, had problems maintaining eye contact, and never liked being touched. But in other respects my childhood and teen years were quite 'normal'. I made friends, I didn't have much trouble in school and university (actually, I liked studying). I was quiet and slightly 'different', but nothing in a way that would really stand out.

It's in my adult life that the real problems started, somewhere around my mid- or late twenties. I became much more sensitive to sounds, smells and touch. I became more withdrawn and eventually drifted apart with all my previous friends. My social skills seem to have deteriorated over the recent years. The sense of isolation and inability to fit in became much stronger.

At the same time, I need a lot of time alone. Conversations exhaust me, guests in the house make me uncomfortable. I don't have meltdowns, but shutdowns happen quite often. Although I really like my job, recently I've become much less productive at it. I easily become stressed and overloaded, and need a lot of time to recharge.

All in all, it feels like my autistic traits are becoming more pronounced with age. I have to struggle with life much more than I did when I was younger. More than that, I have to struggle with myself. It's like things that helped me cope before don't work anymore, and I need to find new ways to deal with everything.

Is it common? Anyone had similar experience?
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Salkin
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is a fairly common phenomenon, though it doesn't get that much publicity. Most of the medical/research establishment's efforts seem to focus on childhood ASD and pay less attention to adults.

I wouldn't say that my autistic traits have directly increased with age, more like they have ebbed and flowed. I tend to be more autistic when in poor mental health and when struggling with lots of things I don't know how to cope with. When I'm in a context where my role is clear and there's some external meaning to my life (which has tended to be related entirely to my job, not a healthy state, but I'm not sure how to get away from it without prohibitive cost of one kind of another), while I still have pronounced autistic traits, they are not as intense. Right now I'm still trying to recover from burnout due to my inability to function in and comprehend my current work environment.

There's a thread here that's three years old but has been bumped now and then, including very recently:
http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt122215.html

You might also be interested in this article on getting more autistic:
http://archive.autistics.org/library/more-autistic.html
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skibum
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel like I am like that too. It feels like I am more Autistic now than when I was younger although I can look back and now that I know what Autism is, I can see clear evidences of it from when I was younger. It might also be that now that I am aware of it I don't hide it as much and I am not as isolated from people as I used to be. But I think some of my traits are definitely more pronounced now. I will take a look at the other threads as well. Thanks for posting the links.
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KingdomOfRats
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

people do not get more autistic with age ,what sounds like is happening is the autistic arrousal system life stressors,environmental triggers,mental distress,arguments that go on and on etc are all fueling the autistic arrousal system which then causes lots of issues such as hyper vigilance,mental health symptoms, autistic behaviors that had long gone and so forth.
this is what the LD pyschiatrist of mine says about worsening autistic behaviors and MH issues in ASDs.
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Salkin
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

skibum wrote:
It might also be that now that I am aware of it I don't hide it as much and I am not as isolated from people as I used to be. But I think some of my traits are definitely more pronounced now.


Yeah, that's definitely the case with me. I've been suspecting AS from my early to mid twenties or so, and been a little more forgiving of myself since, then even moreso from the time I was diagnosed at age 30. It's not always easy though. I've been pretty unforgiving of myself before and pretty sensitive to other people's expectations. Figuring out what's real and what's a facade, and being myself/avoiding burnout without being inconsiderate, is very much a work in progress.

skibum wrote:
I will take a look at the other threads as well. Thanks for posting the links.


Anytime. Smile
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Salkin
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KingdomOfRats wrote:
people do not get more autistic with age ,what sounds like is happening is the autistic arrousal system life stressors,environmental triggers,mental distress,arguments that go on and on etc are all fueling the autistic arrousal system which then causes lots of issues such as hyper vigilance,mental health symptoms, autistic behaviors that had long gone and so forth.
this is what the LD pyschiatrist of mine says about worsening autistic behaviors and MH issues in ASDs.


Yes, that makes sense. The description "more autistic" used in this thread and in the article is used kind of loosely. The fundamental traits are probably constant, they're just expressed differently depending on how much stress the person is under and how much conscious and unconscious effort is being made to appear "normal".
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grahamguitarman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in my 50's and I seem to have more difficulty now that I did when I was younger. I didn't find out about my autism till this year, but looking back I really went downhill in my twenties, sort of recovered for ten years then started to go downhill again in my 40's. So it could be as someone suggested just an ebb and flow thing. But I suspect that it also has something to do with the energy of youth.

As you get older its much harder to find the energy to just fit in, and you become less inclined to waste your time trying. I find that these days I really do need an afternoon nap just to regain some energy to get through the evening.

But when I was young I had more than enough energy to just keep pushing myself to go further and further in terms of fighting my deficiencies. The thought of going to sleep during the day was just not even considered - there were too many things to be doing!

So maybe as we get older we just run out of enough energy to keep our Autism under control?
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Soccer22
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once you become an adult and people have huge expectations of you and people are thinking you're gonna be independent and do all the things NT people do as an adult (college, then a job, then get married, then have kids) that's when I became "more autistic". I stumbled into a roadblock and couldn't accomplish what society was expecting of me and I didn't know why. I also didn't even WANT to do what society was expecting of me. I became really depressed and lonely. I've always had symptoms of aspergers but when you're young people aren't expecting much of you, if you're weird then whatever, if you're outgoing then whatever. It didn't matter because people allow kids to be kids. But once you're older and you have to shape your identity, thats when I realized I wasn't normal, there was something different about me and because of that my symptoms became more pronounced. I don't know if that makes sense. I really suck at expressing myself sometimes.
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Aperture
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Soccer22 wrote:
I stumbled into a roadblock and couldn't accomplish what society was expecting of me and I didn't know why. I also didn't even WANT to do what society was expecting of me. I became really depressed and lonely.

That's been very much my experience as an adult as well. I really relate to most of the posts on this thread.
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skibum
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Soccer22 wrote:
Once you become an adult and people have huge expectations of you and people are thinking you're gonna be independent and do all the things NT people do as an adult (college, then a job, then get married, then have kids) that's when I became "more autistic". I stumbled into a roadblock and couldn't accomplish what society was expecting of me and I didn't know why. I also didn't even WANT to do what society was expecting of me. I became really depressed and lonely. I've always had symptoms of aspergers but when you're young people aren't expecting much of you, if you're weird then whatever, if you're outgoing then whatever. It didn't matter because people allow kids to be kids. But once you're older and you have to shape your identity, thats when I realized I wasn't normal, there was something different about me and because of that my symptoms became more pronounced. I don't know if that makes sense. I really suck at expressing myself sometimes.
I feel like that too. That makes total sense.
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gretchyn
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completely agree. I just got diagnosed last year (I'm 34), and the reason it took so long is because of a) ignorance...I really didn't know anything about autism and thought my struggles were just my lot in life to deal with, and b) because I was having increasing difficulty dealing with those struggles until it came to a point where I knew something was actually wrong (you know what I mean...not making a judgment on autism here). Now that I understand my condition better, it put a framework on my entire life, and I don't try to suppress my thoughts and actions and difficulties the way I did in the past. I think I'm also getting more impatient and weary of trying to fit in and live by other people's rules all the time. I have these issues, and it does not mean I am a damaged person, as I used to think. It's time other people start dancing a little bit too, instead of making me dance all by myself.
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Tuttle
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KingdomOfRats wrote:
people do not get more autistic with age ,what sounds like is happening is the autistic arrousal system life stressors,environmental triggers,mental distress,arguments that go on and on etc are all fueling the autistic arrousal system which then causes lots of issues such as hyper vigilance,mental health symptoms, autistic behaviors that had long gone and so forth.
this is what the LD pyschiatrist of mine says about worsening autistic behaviors and MH issues in ASDs.


Well, some people show more autistic symptoms when they are 25 than when they are 6 or when they are 10, no matter the environment, and no matter the life stressors. That's much more uncommon though. I'd personally still not call that more autistic, but some people would.

Burnouts, overworking yourself, not being able to cope with adult stresses, change occurring more frequently as an adult than as a child - that's common. The "Help I'm getting more autistic" article really is good. The expectations of an adult are huge.
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skibum
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gretchyn wrote:
It's time other people start dancing a little bit too, instead of making me dance all by myself.
I like this thought.
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zer0netgain
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm just at the point that I'm too damned tired to constantly have to compensate for the benefit of others.
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OJani
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Recently I've got a taste of being on the verge of the burnout phase. Not a pleasant experience at all. I've lost my job two times within a year, something I never had to deal with before. Although it may be only a subtle reminder from life to take it easier, it drained me emotionally rather drastically. Looking back, there's been signs of issues with holding down a job, doing what's right and expected from me, and I should mention my largely non-existent family life too. The fact that my ego-strength mainly came from having a good and well-paying job, compensating for the absence of an own family, made my ego-strength extremely vulnerable.

So, I don't know what to say, I have similar experiences, but one question is still to be answered: To what extent do high standards count in my being in such a deep emotional turmoil? I feel either I lose the remaining pieces of the puzzle (that is, a suitable job), or I let myself become a fully-fledged autistic being on dole, which is highly unlikely a safe bet on the long term, considering my history in the first place (and our government's policy).

And, sorry for saying that, my experience is that the older you get, the more hopeless you become. A weird young man or woman may be considered a late bloomer or something, but later you not only lose power, as others have pointed out, but also mentally become weaker, while expectations become even higher, especially in the job (more independent you should be). I become aware of my autism when I was 37, so I spent plenty of time trying to fit in not knowing it. It wasn't much of a success, but at least I always had the hope that some day I will manage to get through to the missing parts. OK, I've learned a lot of valuable things over the years, not only about autism, but sometimes I wish I never learned about my autism. Well, maybe it's completely wrong, so here I am, waiting to something or someone, but until then, I have many things to do, decided to continue some of my previously abandoned projects, and generally pay more attention to my needs, even if it means to pay less attention to others.
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