Sometimes clarity in understanding one’s own innate characteristics takes a heavy burden off a person. That which did not have a name and brought many difficulties to life and communication with others may be based on medical reasons. Knowing about them, both the person himself and his relatives begin to navigate the situation and understand how to build relationships with the outside world – and sometimes with the inside.
My friend was always, as they say, strange. Friends and even relatives considered him insensitive, unkind and lazy. Without coming across directly with such manifestations of his character, I, probably, like the others, remembered the stigma that was put on him by those whose expectations he did not live up to.
And only after almost 20 years of acquaintance with him, after several years of studying psychology and reading many publications on the topic, a guess dawned on me: perhaps he has an ASD – autism spectrum disorder. Asperger’s syndrome or something else – of course, it was neither my task nor my right to make a diagnosis. But this idea suggested how to build communication with him while working on a joint project. And everything went as well as possible. I disagree with any of the negative assessments given to him, and I feel compassion for the person who has to live with the feeling that he is “not like that.”
Brand for life
Many people over 50 who were diagnosed with autism at the end of their lives grew up thinking they were bad. These are the findings of a new study from the University of England Ruskin, published in the journal Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine. A group of university scientists surveyed nine people, aged 52 to 54. Some of the participants said that in childhood they had no friends, they felt isolated. As adults, they still could not understand why people treat them so differently. Some have received treatment for anxiety and depression.
Dr. Stephen Stagg, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of England Ruskin and lead author of the study, says: “I was deeply touched by one aspect of the conversations with the project participants. The fact is that these people grew up considering themselves bad. They called themselves strangers and “not people.” It’s very difficult to live with. ”
This is the first study of its kind to examine the phenomenon of diagnosis in middle age. Scientists also believe that it can be of great benefit to people. Participants often described this as a “eureka” moment that brought them relief. A deeper and clearer understanding of their own characteristics allowed them to understand why other people reacted negatively to them.
Improving specialist literacy
In some areas, the science of the psyche is advancing so rapidly that there are generations of people today who grew up at a time when autism was poorly recognized. Now specialists have great capabilities and knowledge in defining autism spectrum disorders, and this makes it possible to diagnose not only young people, but also those who have lived most of their lives with a feeling of their strangeness or alienation from society.
The authors of the study are convinced that it is necessary to educate those who can help people with ASD, or at least refer them to a specialist. “Doctors and healthcare professionals need to be well aware of the possible signs of autism. Often people are diagnosed with depression, anxiety or other mental disorders, and autism is not on this list, ”the scientists comment.
They also point out that more work needs to be done to support adults and the elderly after being diagnosed. Such changes in knowledge about oneself and about one’s mental characteristics can become a significant “shake-up” for an adult, an established person. And, along with the relief that understanding brings when looking back at his life, he may have many other emotions that psychotherapy can help to cope with.
This article is based on research published in the journal Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine.