While I agree with Erin Bulluss and Abby Sesterka that “a diagnosis of autism in adulthood can change self-concept for the better”, it also can do this to a much lesser degree than they describe. It’s true that I’ve said that my midlife diagnosis changed some thinking about my having been a failure and a fuck-up for several decades, but it’s also true that I’ve said that post-diagnosis I’ve come to feel that in a sense I’m a failure and a fuck-up even at being actually-autistic, in that had I greater support needs it would be too obvious for me to be denied that support, else had I fewer support needs I might be able to manage on my own. Instead, I appear to have landed right in the mediocre middle that appears to be a dead angle to many of the venues and avenues of support. Much of their description of being autistic matches my own, for example, yet they also “both work in areas that are high pressure, emotionally and cognitively demanding, and involve frequent and inflexible deadlines”—emphasis on the “both work”. Whatever level of supports Bulluss and Sesterka require, it doesn’t appear to be such that it prevents or precludes economic self-sufficiency. Which is a perfectly legitimate way to be actually-autistic, of course, and neither they nor anyone else needs my say-so on that. It’s just that there seem to be plenty of people describing their lives as autistic people who nonetheless are managing, and not so much people noticing that there also are those of us out here who are reasonable intelligent, reasonably competent people who nonetheless, despite now having started their sixth decade, have never been economically self-sufficient in their entire lives. Would having known I was autistic the entire time have changed my employment fortunes? (See the “missed opportunities” bit in this piece on a so-called “lost generation” of autistics.) There’s no way to tell, although there’s no question in my mind that I now can peg the dismal fate of every single job I’ve ever had to being autistic without knowing it. Except for my most recent one, a job placement through Vocational Rehabilitation which therefore included accommodations, that nonetheless blew up in my face and resulted in shutdowns and sobbing fits such as I’d never before experienced in my life. As near as anyone paying close enough attention to tell can tell, I seem to be too autistic to support myself and yet at the same time not autistic enough to receive financial supports instead. My midlife marks the moment I went from being a failure and a fuck-up, through an autism diagnosis that said I wasn’t, into… feeling like I’m a failure and a fuck-up as an autistic person. So how’s your Saturday night going?

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Hello. My name is Bix. @bix