My name is James Becker. I am a 74 year old HFA (High Functioning Autistic). I was not diagnosed until I was 70. Like so many other older autistics, much of my life has been a challenge. I have worked in many different jobs. I am a retired university level Psychology teacher. My favourite job was driving a tractor-trailer over the road. It figures since I worked alone, driving all night with no interactions anyone. A perfect job for an isolating autistic! I have had run-ins with the law. I have had numerous marital relationships. I have had addiction issues. Lots of issues!
Because autism was unknown when I was born, my parents were not sure what was wrong with me. Both of my older sisters were born with congenital issues (club foot and epilepsy). My father was what we used to call “a stern father”. That translates into intolerance and physical punishment. I was punished and prevented from stimming. Stimming is a form of repetitive behaviour that reduces excess energy and is a coping mechanism. I view stimming as a normal behaviour while most professionals view stimming as “maladaptive”. Of course, NTs (neurotypicals or “normal” brain structure) stim, they just don’t see it that way. In addition, I talked at a very early age (6 months) and did not walk until I was 2 years old , so I must have presented a “mixed picture” to the doctor, who saw me as a bright, small child. Much later in life when I saw a psychiatrist, he didn’t know if he should label me a sociopath or something else. He finally shared that my very high level of fear, guilt and shame ruled out the sociopath label. No Kidding! A high school student could have told me that!
it has taken me about three years to fully accept my autism. What used to disturb me about my autism now makes me smile. One example would be tying my shoes. It is a difficult task for me. Also, I have been told numerous times that I have no common sense, but that I am really smart. That’s kind of like “Look at me when I am talking to you”. It’s one of those sayings that irritate a lot of autistics. I seem to be a bit clumsy and seem to have a lot of bad luck. I break stuff accidentally. I am just now learning how to plan and organize.
I believe that older autistics like myself will want to have a place to vent, seek support or just know that they are not alone. Thanks and 😊