Aspergers and Society / Adulthood into Old Age

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It’s not only social ideas about “senior citizenship” that drive me crazy. One can ignore the drumbeat commercials for adult diapers, and for the hundreds of drugs that claim to prolong life by a week or two, that is, if the side effects don’t kill you first, or chastisements over bad habits like smoking or eating red meat – habits that supposedly shove one off the cliff “before one’s time” as if death can be predicted by statistics; the  game “cheat death” so others may profit.

I frown when the physician’s assistant at our clinic rattles off the big diseases that wait ahead that I must strive to avoid.

“Just how am I supposed to die?” I always ask her. This is one more social snag for an ageing Asperger: making direct, honest challenges to the social rules and concepts surrounding aging. I’m not about to start loading up on prescriptions that will mess up my mind and body while claiming to relieve me of some condition that is merely an annoyance, until 30 bottles of pills crowd the bathroom counter – pills that supposedly undo the adverse effects of other pills.

Real physical changes do require psychological adjustment; not easy for Asperger types. One often hears that Asperger people don’t like change, but this puts the wrong spin on how we may react to change. “Liking” change has little to do with it. Anxiety has been a life-long companion; no one who has lived with chronic depression and anxiety wants to spend any more time in these states than necessary. Change initiates stress  for every human, but for an Asperger, “good” stress is no different than “bad stress.”

I am exceedingly averse to losing control to neurotypicals, who “go by” mechanistic plans that supposedly “help” people, but which assume that people are all the same and ought to comply with whatever boneheaded scheme institutions, corporations or governments apply – obedience is the theme. For the elderly, that generally means returning to kindergarten. In the neurotypical mind this makes sense. Old people are just like children: treat them like children; problem solved. No need to understand old age as a unique stage of life.

It may be due to having an artistic temperament. Artists and writers often choose a simple existence – something like: 1. Work in the morning. 2. Eat, take a walk, do errands in the afternoon. 3. Go back to work in the evening. To people who follow a rigorous social existence, where not one minute is “free” (it’s now a virtue to be an out of balance and exhausted squirrel who never rests) this may seem selfish, lazy, unfair, or even criminal.

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“You write? What do you write?” If I said cookbooks, romance novels or fashion guides that would be fine, but what one writes has nothing to do with writing for money. Writing is thinking and learning and persistence is required.

If you ask what any American what he or she does, as long as it involves a paycheck, it’s acceptable, because someone has conferred social value on that person by paying them money.

I had thought that my current lifestyle would carry me into old age with little more than a “bump” or two, but that’s not so. Old age really is a new phase of life just like childhood, adolescence and young adulthood; work, marriage, family and children; empty-nesting and having to raise your grandchildren when you thought all of that was finished. It’s not attempting to extend “youth” into six, seven or even eight decades.

Experience asks the question, What are you going to do with the information that you have stored over a lifetime?

Taking yoga classes, getting a plastic surgery – “100,000 mile” overhaul; buying Ho-rish young clothing, playing bridge or going bowling with other seniors; nothing wrong with those options, I suppose, but my life’s trajectory has never been social.

Just what do Asperger types do in old age? It’s a new frontier… how to be seen as a capable adult human, despite having people speak to you as if you’re a lost and deaf three year-old; to be regarded as having no purpose, but obliged to continue as a “consumer”.

I’ve dealt with strange reactions to my thoughts and behavior for six decades, but I find that learning to accommodate frustration has not lessened my irritation.

What a waste of experience and wisdom is wasted in American culture.

What a waste of experience and wisdom in American culture, when elders are dismissed as nuisances.

Society puts a lot of energy into depriving all kinds of people of fulfillment: human beings need to contribute to human effort and accomplishment. People suffer when they become objects that the “ruling minority” deny self-expression and the means to support families.

One of the great insults to Aspergers individuals is to deny us the basic human satisfaction of contributing: not because we don’t have skills and intelligence, but because we don’t “ape” social conventions. What a loss: society needs us, young and old. 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Aspergers and Society / Adulthood into Old Age

  1. I take drugs that keep my anxiety and depression at a manageable level. That and I am actually getting to enjoy sex with these pills. Before I would be terrified, and I have a super-gentle husband. So, I accept the side-effects and could care less if I die before my age.
    I have also told my family again and again that I do not wish medication to keep me alive. People like the PA you tell of try to convince me otherwise – as if long age is a blessing. But I tend to call their bull-shit.
    My youngest did the same, but in the other direction. We were getting her checked out at one of her long list of drs and she said to the dr that it would have been better if my husband and I had not had sex at her conception. The dr. almost freaked out and said that meant that my daughter would not have been born. My daughter and I were confused by her reaction and said – Yes???
    There seems to be a reverence for birth and death that do not flow over into happy lives. In our world we make children live at earlier births and enforce longer lives with technology and medication. Let us die. Hell, let us kill ourselves with assistance if that is what we need. Phooey to legislators who insist on making us bear babies and live longer without making those lives liveable. Instead people are homeless and hopeless and dirt poor when they do not need to be.
    I don’t understand this reverence. It makes no sense.
    You do know that I am not talking about you right??

    Like

    • Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s quality vs. quantity. I chose not to have children because mental illness ran in the family and I was going through hell and couldn’t have been a good parent. I’ve gotten a lot of flak for that – as if the planet is short on humans. I too take anxiety meds; I resisted for many years, then realized I was being stubborn. Why was I suffering? Stupid! As I’ve aged all my doses have dropped (slower metabolism, I guess) and it gets a bit tricky. I was just reading today a paper that says the anxiety that goes with Asperger’s is not “regular” anxiety. I think I’ll look into it further and do a post.

      Liked by 1 person

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