Thursday 30 April 2020

Autism Identification

  • What does it mean to be identified as autistic late in life?
  • How does it change your understanding of your past?
  • What does it mean for the future?

This is a blog written for people who have identified as autistic later in life (in my case, aged 60). So much of what is written about autism concerns children. But all those children grow into adults. I am an example of autistic life lived unawares. There are thousands of people like me.

Late identification or diagnosis changes your perceptions of your lived experience. That profound sense of difference which was always present but had to be ignored, or suppressed, or overcome, is now validated. Suddenly, life makes sense in a way that is both liberating and transformative. Past events shift into a different focus. The present and the future become charged with a new meaning. But this profound change brings challenges too.

This is the beginning of a blog that will reflect on themes and ideas that seem important to me. Remember, though: "when you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person". I do not speak for all autistic people. I can only talk about myself and pick out things that seem to have a wider relevance.

I am a successful academic who is also autistic. I am most certainly not the only autistic Professor. I personally know two others who have had an adult diagnosis. I know several more who self-identify. I believe that autism is more common in academia than people realise.

I am also not a Professor of Autism. My research areas have been Music and Computing. These are in fact 'special interests' and I have been fortunate to be able to overthink them for a living. I am interested in autism research, for sure, but I am not an expert.

So, this first post is just a way of introducing the blog and myself. The next step is to recount the story of my late diagnosis...