Monday, March 9, 2015

No Country for Old Autistics

There seems to be a definable gap in the acceptance level that is offered to "Spectrum Folk" these days.  Awareness efforts and early diagnosis have done wonders for those born after Asperger's/High Functioning Autism/etc. were added to the DSM IV.  People of all ages offer an unprecedented level of acceptance and kindness to those my children's age and younger.   Those of us who are older, and received correct diagnoses later in life are viewed quite differently.  Acceptance, and tolerance for our differences lag far behind what younger non-neurotypicals experience.

I began to notice this gap several years ago.  It has become unavoidable in the last few years.  My finally receiving a correct diagnosis at age 46 has made it impossible to ignore. Some of those who love, value, and support Nathan in spite of and even because of his differences view me with a jaded "can't you just get your shit together" perspective. Though our diagnoses are virtually identical, our experience, even current experience, could not be more different.  

Let me be clear.  I do not begrudge Nathan his "easier path" in this particular area.  I'm greatly relieved that he is not "reliving my life".  I struggle not to resent those who are so benevolent toward him yet simultaneously so jaded toward me.  I see the difference in their faces and hear it in their words.  Once, after telling a group of ladies I'd just met about Nathan, the one lady in the group who knew me looked at the group and said "yes......we love Brian because of his son."   I was almost rendered speechless.  Almost.

It seems that for those of us who got where we are without the benefits of modern medicines, therapy, and awareness/acceptance campaigns are expected, at least by some, to keep clawing our way out and to someday become neurotypical.  The expectation is mind-bendingly paradoxical.  

Honestly, I don't expect "the guilty parties" to ever get it.   Apparently, offering understanding, kindness, and a little deference to younger spectrum folk is all they can manage.  They will continue to expect me to "be less weird" or "just get my shit together". I will keep doing my very best not to hate them for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment