At the age of 65, I was diagnosed with being on the Autism Spectrum from birth. A bit late, to find out, you might think. However, it was a relief.
Being misunderstood all my life has not been easy.
I need routine and I have specific interests. This is why I wrote a book about my life story, to explain why I struggled to grow up, being clumsy, not fitting in anywhere and making many simple mistakes.
The struggle to grow up
I found it very difficult to concentrate at school. I was often in trouble for doing nothing. I thought windows were to look out of, as I day dreamed.
At mock G.C.E. O level time my mother was in hospital. I took all the subjects and failed in all except Maths. I could never concentrate to read very much. It was a relief to pass Maths. I was allowed to only take 3 subjects in the real exams. I failed English three times.
Work and more struggle
Due to my Maths being ok I started work as a Time and Wages Clerk at a large steel company for £3.50 a week, on my 16th birthday in 1963. In the 1960s & 70s it was easy to drift from job to job. With my poor social skills it suited me. Looking back, I got jobs that I wasn’t capable of doing. It’s amazing how many jobs I had that involved figures which were suitable for my limited skills.
After 50 years of work, involving 19 jobs in 26 years and a job lasting 24 years, I was given the opportunity to have a job I was most suited to. As an Audit Clerk I was responsible for checking stock both physically and on a computer system. A lot of figure work and routine meant that the job was totally suitable for the condition that I didn’t know I had.
I always knew something wasn’t quite right. I actually enjoyed being there and I missed the routine when I retired.
Background noise and sudden loud noises have always affected my ability to concentrate. I was aware of this at an early age and the disability still exists. I had asked for Rock Radio not to be played in the warehouse, a few years before my diagnosis, because it affected concentration. I became Mr Unpopular to many colleagues in the warehouse, some refusing to speak to me. I was already over 18 months past age 65 retiring age, so I retired 2 months short of age 67, to escape and avoid any more conflict.
Retirement is difficult
The story so far hopefully explains why retirement is difficult, on a low private pension. Many low-paid jobs with no pension contributions.
However, I used to say life was a struggle but after diagnosis for a lifelong condition with no medical cure, I began to realise that my life became a positive challenge with the struggle so I enjoy using the low income looking for bargains and trying to make the best of everything possible, despite whatever.
Have you been affected by any of these issues?
This blog represents one individual’s experience; personal circumstances differ – if you have been affected by any the issues in this blog and want some advice about your own situation please contact the National Autistic Society’s helpline on 0808 800 4104, Monday to Thursday between 10 am and 4 om and Friday between 9 am and 3 pm. You can also visit their website for more information: https://www.autism.org.uk/.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age.