Although Aspergers has been around for many years, it was only classified as a distinct condition in 1992. This means that many elderly folks could not have been diagnosed as kids because the signs and symptoms were not recognized.
There is evidence that Aspergers can run in families, and elderly folks may become aware of their condition when a younger family member is diagnosed. Moms and dads normally read up on the signs and symptoms and may recognize the same signs in their older relatives.
Grown-ups with Aspergers present with similar signs of the condition as do children and teens. In some cases, the problems may not be quite as pronounced as the grown-up may have developed coping mechanisms.
Elderly folks with Aspergers normally display the following symptoms:
- Social interaction is difficult, and the Aspie is normally too detached or too intense. They struggle to understand the full meaning of relationships, and sexual issues may be a problem. Some are unable to distinguish between date rape and seduction.
- Obsessional interests are common, and the Aspie may work in a position that is related to this interest. Computers are frequently the focus of attention. Collectibles (e.g., stamps and coins) are also favored. Some elderly folks with Aspergers may also be obsessed with trains, airplanes or other forms of transport.
- Elderly folks often like routine, and Aspergers may magnify this to extremes. They may have rigid routines and become unsettled and difficult if they are pressed out of their comfort zones.
- Communication problems are common, and the Aspie often engages in long-winded, one-sided conversations, not realizing they are boring the other party. Information may be shared in a lecture-like manner and with little or no facial expressions. Body language is weak and eye contact poor.
While some older folks find a diagnosis helpful, others refuse to accept it and prefer to carry on as they have been for years. Accepting a diagnosis means the individual will often look back and examine past actions and decisions. For an elderly man or woman set in his/her ways, this may be an alarming prospect.
Currently, there is no single diagnostic tool for Aspergers that is universally recognized. A family member may read an article about Aspergers and the elderly and see the signs in an aged relative. If the subject is broached, it is possible the potential Aspie will visit a doctor for confirmation. An evaluation may include a review of childhood behavior, analysis of school reports if available, and a questionnaire. Even if medical opinion is not sought, the knowledge that signs and symptoms of Aspergers are apparent can bring relief and understanding in some areas.
A firm diagnosis of Aspergers in an elderly man or woman may be met with resistance - but can be helpful. Even if the Aspie does not want to change or alter his/her behavior and routines, it can be comforting to know there is a reason behind the behavior.
• Anonymous said... As long as you are not struggling in a particular facet of your life, then receiving a formal diagnosis does not matter, however if you are struggling, a psychotherapist can help, and if you have health insurance...it is generally covered.
• Anonymous said... I had struggled my whole life in many facets. I no longer struggle now because I accept I am different. Now I can happily dance to my own tune. I hope others are as lucky!!
• Anonymous said... My dad is 65.... I think he has aspergers.... My eldest son is 23 yrs old and was diagnosed aged 10 with aspergers /adhd and I see so many similarities in them.... It has made it easier having my son to understand my dad if that makes any sense?....
• Anonymous said... National Autism day is coming up soon in April - not sure of the date. I think there might be T Shirts available. Anyone know?
• Anonymous said... Same here ... But I have a hard time justifying the expense of a diagnosis when I'm not sure what it would do for me.
• Anonymous said... That is my point. I can't afford to get a diagnosis privately and don't feel inclined to go through the stress of trying to get diagnosed through the health service. I know I'm Aspergers and I can live my life accordingly now.
• Anonymous said... The hard part if finding trained professionals who understand enough to give you any guidance or help.
• Anonymous said... Yes my Father is 92! with Aspergus.
• Anonymous said... . It was classified in the U.S. as a distinct condition in 1994 in the DSM-IV (with an update in the DSM IV-TR in 2000) and in the ICD-10 (also in 1994). However, it was a distinct condition that was diagnosed in Europe in the 1940s onward. What's more, prior to Asperger Syndrome being added to the DSM or the ICD, childhood schizophrenia was the diagnosis most often given. With the addition of AS in the DSM and the ICD, the number of diagnoses for childhood schizophrenia decreased at a similar rate to the increase diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome.
• Anonymous said... I was diagnosed in adulthood. No help or understanding in schools colleges or work.
• Anonymous said... Just so that you know, the most Aspie of us who lived life without the diagnosis have been living as mimics for our whole lives. I would mimic the behaviour of "normal" people my whole life and that's how I managed to get where I am now. I was beat up a lot during my childhoood and still suffer some bullying by "atypicals" to this day but I still find that aping behaviours seen in "typicals" help me in everyday life. I feel bad for those Aspies who cannot mimic!
• Anonymous said... My little boy is now 5. After he turned 2 he started regressing and showing signs of autism. When I was going through the lengthy process of getting him diagnosed, I recognised a lot of likenesses between his actions and behaviours and my own, both as a child and indeed right through my adult life. After we got him diagnosed (he is low functioning, non verbal), I couldn't help but listen to the nagging voice telling me to find out more about myself. I have taken the Autism Quotient test time after time over a period of time and constantly come out with a score of 47. I have found out as much as I can about Aspergers and I am yet to find a facet of my personality which doesn't map over as typical Aspergers. Every action and decision of my adult life can be explained with Aspergers, and the fact that I have always felt that I am different to what is classed as the 'norm'. I didn't go to school for the final year, so sat no exams, but even with that, I sat an IQ test with around 8 work colleagues when I was in my late twenties and even though some of them had masters degrees in technical subjects, I still scored higher than all of them with 146. I am not inclined to pursue a diagnosis, but let me assure you, now that I understand myself, it's like the weight of the world is lifted from my shoulders instead of beating myself up (emotionally) every day.
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