Several things came across the transom today about being autistic as an adult, as I am. One of which I want to highlight.

First, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a reauthorization of the so-called “Autism CARES Act” which includes an expansion of its directives expressly to consider autism “across the lifespan”, taking into account the fact that it’s not like there somehow are only autistic children and teenagers.

Second, the journal Autism in Adulthood put out a call for papers for a special issue on “scientific developments in measurement topics impacting autistic adults, particularly those outcomes that are meaningful and relevant to autistic individuals”.

Third, The Conversation looked at compensatory strategies autistic people might use to navigate the neurotypical world which therefore might hide their condition from “from doctors, employers, and even family members”.

This last one is especially relevant to me, because as a late-diagnosed adult who didn’t know he was autistic until he was forty-six, I’m going to have to establish some strong arguments in order to receive benefits such as SSDI, which are based upon one’s work history. My work history, at a superficial level, effectively “masks” my autism but in reality when considered more closely shows how difficult it was to find stable and consistent work absent disability accommodations—which of course no one knew to ask for because we didn’t yet realize I was autistic.

It’s important to make it clear to “doctors, employers, and even family members” (and social benefits agencies) that the fact that one could, in my case unknowingly, deploy some compensatory strategies, doing so was not without cost and arguably was not in the interest of my long-term health, mental or otherwise.

Basically, knowing or unknowing compensatory strategies, absent an evaluation of their impact upon an autistic adult’s health and wellbeing, should not be held against them when seeking assistance, let alone understanding.

Author: Bix

The unsupported use case of a mediocre, autistic midlife in St. Johns, Oregon —now with added global pandemic.