Do Older Aspies Have an Advantage Over Millennials?

Discussion in 'Adult Relationships' started by ChefDave, Apr 5, 2018.


  1. Have any of you seen the movie, "Temple Grandin"? It's an interesting account of how Dr. Temple Grandin, an outspoken autism advocate, came to adulthood during a time when autism in the U.S. was frequently misdiagnosed as mental retardation or psychosis.

    Towards the end of the movie, Temple Gradin addressed a group of concerned parents at an autism awareness convention. After speaking in support of self stimming, someone asked her how old her child was. The crowd was initially disappointed when she said that she didn't have any children. They perked up the moment she said that she was autistic.

    Temple Grandin went on to say something that I could really connect with. She said that when she was growing up, manners were really important. Her parents made her follow basic rules of social etiquette and these rules were reinforced by school. In YouTube video interviews, she has also said that her parents forced her to socialize. In playing with other kids she learned how to take turns, how to be part of a team, and how to share.

    I'm 57 years old and I wasn't diagnosed with autism until just 4 years ago when I was 53.

    As with Dr. Grandin, I grew up in the days before the internet and cable TV. Instead of smart phones with music apps, we had vinyl records and 8 track tapes. I still remember when televisions were black and white ... when phones had rotary dials ... and when milk in glass bottles were delivered to the back door.

    In surfing the internet and visiting other autistic forums, I have noted a recurring theme.

    Many young adults on the high performing end of the autistic spectrum seem to be struggling with their autism. I wonder if any of you think that older people have an advantage?

    Although many of us (older folk) were not diagnosed until later in life, I wonder if growing up in the days before the internet have given us an inherent advantage. Forced socialization ... having to attend school (and sometimes Church) ... being made to take piano lessons with horseback riding lessons in the Fall and Winter and swimming lessons starting late Spring and going throughout the summer ... I wonder if experiences like these have given older aspies an advantage over those who are currently in their 20's or 30's.

    The advent of the internet permitted many of the younger crowd to opt out of public education in favor of on-line schooling. Although on-line schooling may have helped to reduce their daily stress, I wonder if on-line schooling also caused them to miss out on the development of basic social skills that would have been honed from kindergarten through the 12th grade ... or the 11th grade in my case since I graduated a year early.

    While on-line gaming has allowed people to play games on-line, sports (which I was never good at) and board games came with face to face contact and more socialization.

    I don't know if it's just me ... but I've noticed on other forums that there seem to be quite a few "woe is me" posts in which people lament the fact that they lack the confidence and ability to leave their homes to attend college or to even apply for a job.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that I had a wonderful childhood. I HATED forced play dates and being made to join the Cub Scouts. I hated having to take horseback riding lessons. I especially hated it when my mom signed me up for gymnastics when I was eight! I was the only guy in the class! It was embarrassing. It didn't help that like many Aspies, I'm not particularly well coordinated.

    With this being said, forced socialization and parental expectations regarding my strict adherence to the rules made me learn basic social skills. I know how to work with others. I even know how to make friends ... but following my diagnosis, I've decided to embrace my neurological tendency towards being a reclusive introvert and do not currently have any friends as I've found that developing and maintaining friendships takes a lot of emotional energy.

    For many years I thought I was neruotypical and at one time I was really quite depressed over the fact that my life hadn't quite turned out like the storybook expectations from the 60's ... i.e. grow up, graduate from college, get a job, meet a woman, get married, and have kids.

    I didn't have any problems with the first three goals but relationships have always made me nervous. Even now, when I see two people passionately embrace and kiss on TV, I can't watch because such intimate contact seems very offsetting. I don't even want to think about how many germs are being exchanged in a kiss. The answer according to the journal, MicroBiome (2014) is 80 million!

    Long before I was diagnosed with autism, my father wondered if I was gay. I am not gay. I'm autistic and I don't like being touched and I certainly don't want to be hugged or kissed. (Wince)

    I've used my socialization skills to go to graduate school and to get a job. I've taught at private schools around the world. I've had a highly successful career.

    It saddens me to know that there seem to be a great many younger people who (for whatever reason) lack the confidence or ability to even leave their home. I find myself wondering why which leads me back to my question.

    Do older Aspies have an advantage over millennials?