I was intrigued yesterday by someone elsewhere asking if younger autistics were more comfortable talking to older adults than to people their own age, as well as one person’s suggestion that discomfort interacting with people one’s own age when younger might be due to the “direct comparison” that can occur and prompt masking.
When I was young I spent a lot of time, summers primarily, hanging out at a theater company both my parents at different stages had been involved with, and as a theater that did a lot of work with schools and young people it was an environment that was perhaps generally less judgmental about having kids around than other sorts of places. In a sense, it was an environment more naturally accepting of atypicality.
So I wonder, now, if that environment, much like my later internet bulletin board circles and pop culture fandom circles, might not have been not quite so harsh a juxtaposition between myself and the neurotypical world as one would experience elsewhere, thereby shielding me from diagnosis.
Which is something of an irksome mixed bag.
On the one hand, environments that don’t balk at undiagnosed atypicality are good. On the other hand, that perhaps helped keep my autism unrecognized and thereby kept me from being able to access help in navigating other environments, and my future. That future being my present, and the long decades that led to it.