About autisticaplanet

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Welcome to a blog written by an autistic adult woman in her late 30's using words and images to advocate acceptance as well as awareness of those with life-limiting sensory processing disorder and resulting social and behavioral challenges.Thank you for visiting.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Onion in the Petunia Patch Chapter Three

Chapter 3: Does autism get easier as you age?
Based on my personal experience: somewhat yes and mostly no.
Yes, some of my sensory sensitivities become tolerable.
For me, this meant being able to go from screaming and covering my eyes every time a flash fired on a camera to being able to endure purple pupils following a photograph.
By my preteen years, I was able to handle the doorbell ringing instead of freaking out by both the startle and the noise. What a relief it was that my mother could play the organ at mid-volume in the den next to my bedroom and I could handle it with my door closed. Being forewarned, I could even tolerate the vacuum being turned on and even being in the same room.
But by the time I turned 14, I began to notice increasing sensitivity to other sounds already too loud, especially when accompanied by startle. I began to experience more meltdowns more frequently and much lower overall frustration tolerance.

Add to this intense bullying during middle school and high-school years and the sudden loss of a parent at age 14 as well as very little understanding and compassionate measures being attempted by professionals and first responders beginning in my late teens and extending to the present.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has helped me greatly. For example, I can understand the reasons behind why people in general act the way they do. I can cope (on a small scale) with the unpredictability of human emotions and resulting behavior. I can understand from an objective viewpoint some reasons why kids (and adults) bully (example: taking out on me the abuse they experienced at home).

The biggest thing CBT has taught me is that it isn’t all in my head or all about me. I am not only or always the main factor in why things go very wrong.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) though very expensive (my mom had to take out a loan), was very much worth it in terms of improving my loudness discomfort level (LDL) from mid 70’s to mid 80’s in each ear. I also wore white noise generators in both ears for a year following TRT.

Though I have made gains, I have also had to come to terms with the fact I will never be comfortable in the midst of small children (even when relatively quiet), dogs or the 4th of July.

What troubles me is that there are people who cannot come to terms with the fact I have come to terms with these issues.

I pray that in the very near future that there will be living and working solutions for severe sensory affected autistic people who are high-functioning (yes, the two actually do co-exist).

This means developing “sensory friendly housing” where people like myself can find refuge from the barking, screaming and honking world that is the reality (in varying degrees) of what I call “anything goes” living environments. I happen to have grown up and still am living in such an environment. I compensate via 3 white noise machines and sometimes wearing passive noise cancelling earmuffs. I am blessed to live on an empty-nester street and not have neighbors living next to the side of the house where my bedroom is located.

Both my parents are in heaven now, and time will tell when (not if) I will need to move. The main factor is finances as well as life choices on behalf of the sibling I live with.

Has autism got easier as I age? If I had to weigh my childhood against my adolescence and adulthood, moreover, I’d say no. I am not financially independent. I still struggle to maintain relationships. I don’t have access to transportation unless someone is off work and has a car.  I do not have the ease of being out in public places and handling auditory and social stress that I managed somewhat better with before my teen years.

Hopefully, these words I write will help to inspire those who want to and have the resources available to make these United States a palpable place for autistic people to live, work and recreate.

Calling all charitable people, realtors, land developers, social service workers, and politicians. 

“But the needy will not be ignored forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.” ~Psalm 9:18 NLT