Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on August 1, 2022. The video’s public release will be October 5, 2022.
Hi, everyone, welcome back! Lyric here, and I didn’t find out I was Autistic until I was 29 years old, almost 30. I discovered this fact about myself fairly late in life.
There are a lot of NeuroDivergent People who are discovering that they have brains that work very differently than many other people in adulthood, and late in life. This week I wanted to talk about why.
If you would like to know why there are so many of us discovering, we are NeuroDivergent late in life, please do stay tuned.
It’s important to understand, just because some of us are being diagnosed, Autistic, ADHD, or with other neurodevelopmental differences late in life, that does not mean there were no signs of this when we were younger.
In fact, there were many signs of this in my life. For example, I was referred for an assessment for learning disabilities in elementary school. However, because the school approached my guardians in a very negative way, saying “there’s something wrong with that child”, my guardians bristled up and said, “how dare you! You’re not labeling that child.”
Having your guardians be afraid of labeling you is one reason many of us, in my age group and older, were not diagnosed, or labeled, when we were younger.
In addition, because I did not have the autism/ADHD labels, when I was growing up, all of those ways in which I struggled: impulsivity, sensory issues, not being able to sit still in my chair, were labeled as me having “behavioral problems” instead of me being NeuroDivergent.
I was not labeled Autistic or ADHD, however, I was labeled stubborn, difficult, sensitive, rebellious, fussy. The list really goes on and on. I could do an entire video, just listing off horrible things I was called, because I didn’t know I was NeuroDivergent growing up.
Another reason many of us may go undiscovered, or undiagnosed, is that NeuroDivergence, and brain types, tend to run in families. Therefore, for some of us, the things that we did, were things our parents and guardians may have also done.
Which meant those things weren’t thought of as air quotes, “abnormal”, because they were traits that you could find when looking around within your family.
Now that I know I’m NeuroDivergent, looking around at my family members, I can see my NeuroDivergent traits distributed throughout my family.
I come from a family full of undiagnosed, NeuroDivergent adults, and therefore nothing I did at home registered as air quotes, “strange” to any of them, because I was just like other people in my family.
In fact, I know many Autistic parents, who have discovered that they themselves were Autistic, when their children were diagnosed Autistic, because they are learning about their Autistic children and going, “Hey, I did that too!” and the connections are being made.
When I was first diagnosed, I felt a lot of frustration at going almost 30 years of my life without having this vital information about myself, and the frustration that I, almost, could have been assessed, and possibly diagnosed, in elementary school.
However, knowing what I know now, almost six years into having my autism diagnosis, I am more aware of how heavily stigmatized being Autistic and ADHD was, at that time, and realize that my guardians may have saved me a lot of pain, and trauma, from being put into certain kinds of behavioral modification therapies, that were extremely prevalent, and still are extremely prevalent today.
Even without being put into a formal behavioral modification therapy, behavioral modification methods were still used on me in the public school system, and other systems I encountered in my life.
My brief encounters with those experiences were traumatic enough. I can hardly imagine how traumatic it would’ve been to be placed in something that could be 40 hours a week, or more, of constant behavior modification.
In addition, being exposed to NeuroDivergent adults, who did not know they were NeuroDivergent, and had NeuroTypical expectations for themselves… Then putting NeuroTypical expectations on me, as a NeuroDivergent young person, because that’s just what you do when you don’t know your NeuroDivergent. It’s a bit of a mind screw.
Okay. So we have one: undiagnosed, NeuroDivergent People, in our family lines, our guardians and parents, who may not have known they were NeuroDivergent, that could cover us up, and hide us from being discovered.
We also have stigma, and people being afraid of being stigmatized, being a real issue.
Also, up until 1980, autism was thought of as childhood schizophrenia, didn’t have his own diagnosis, same with ADHD. We didn’t find out about ADD, or ADHD, until the eighties, and up until the nineties and later, these things were, were still thought of as primarily childhood conditions, that we would grow out of.
Therefore, those of us who were older, in that time period, or we were adults in the eighties and nineties, were completely ignored, and dismissed.
You ready for another reason that a lot of Autistic and NeuroDivergent People may not be discovered until adulthood?
This one’s one that fits me personally: a lot of us, myself included, will only do what we’re good at, and avoid the things we’re bad at.
If I’m not good at something, or I’m not naturally inclined in it, I’m going to avoid it as much as I can.
I know what my strengths are, and I only stick to activities that feed my strengths. This gives me an illusion of being a lot more capable than I really am, and hides the ways in which I struggle.
Some of us can get by in life doing this for so long, until we are asked, or required, to do something that is outside of our natural aptitude, something that might be easy for someone with a NeuroTypical brain.
All of a sudden, when we want to do this thing, that is very unnatural, or poorly suited to our NeuroDivergent brains, we fail spectacularly, or completely fall apart.
Or, suddenly, we will experience a change in our life, where we have expectations put upon us that we can no longer reach, without support, or some kind of additional accommodation, that we don’t have.
Then our NeuroDivergence may, suddenly, be more obvious to people around us, or ourselves. We may seek out diagnosis.
NeuroDivergent masking, or camouflaging, is another reason we may not learn about our NeuroDivergence until later in life.
NeuroDivergent camouflaging is when a NeuroDivergent Person consciously, or subconsciously, because we may not even realize we’re doing it, masks, tones down, or hides any of their NeuroDivergent traits -anything that makes us stand out.
We do this, not to be manipulative or deceptive. It is a survival skill; one that can come at a heavy cost.
We learn to put parts of ourselves away. We learn, often through being mocked, scolded, bullied, or chastised, that things we do, naturally, are “socially unacceptable”, “weird”, or will get us bullied, or picked on.
We may do something, and then someone will call us out on it. We learn not to do that again in front of other people.
Sometimes it is safer to be as invisible as possible. Being invisible is not easy when you, naturally, stand out.
Camouflaging is a costly survival skill. When I was camouflaging heavily, and didn’t know I was Autistic, ADHD, NeuroDivergent, I was constantly exhausted from it. I was losing the ability to camouflage, which is what led me to being diagnosed Autistic, at the age of 29. I was burnt out, getting physically, and mentally ill, from masking and camouflaging.
In addition, I was unable to develop relationships with people, and was more isolated, because I was putting out a version of myself to the world that I thought was air quotes, “socially acceptable”; therefore, I was not able to develop authentic relationships, because nobody could know the real me. The real me was hidden deep inside.
Suicide is one of the top killers of Autistic People. With all of this external pressure to be someone, or something you’re not, I can’t say I’m surprised. That’s where I found myself, at the time of my autism diagnosis.
My autism diagnosis saved my life.
There are many Autistic People out there, my age, and older, who may not discover their NeuroDivergence in their lifetimes. My thoughts are constantly with them, because I know how life changing, in the best way, having that information has been for me.
All right, everyone. Thank you for hanging out with me this week. If you are new here -welcome. I do put out new videos every Wednesday. I’d love to invite you to follow, subscribe, and turn on those notifications, so that you don’t miss an update, when those videos do come out.
Thank you, everyone who comments, shares your video suggestions, and your feedback. This blog would not be what it is today without you, the NeuroDivergent Rebel community. I’m really grateful for every one of you.
Also, of course, special, thanks to the Patron Subscribers, Twitter Super Followers, Facebook Supporters, YouTube Channel Members, those of you who do that little bit of monetary subscription, to help fund this blog. You pay for things like website hosting, transcriptioning software, the technology with which this blog is filmed on.
All of this would not be possible without the help and support of the viewers like you. So I’m, I’m so grateful for all of you.
Thank you all. I will see you all next Wednesday. Bye.
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💜 – Lyric