This is a good question which I have wondered about. I was self-diagnosed at 58 years of age two years ago. Some, not all, of my traits seems to be increasing. Such as my obsession with collecting electronic gadgets (toys, scooters, vacuums, etc.) is getting stronger. My Amazon account and number of power surges to maintain my collection is proof of that.
A psychologist/writer I follow is Dr. Kenneth Roberson, in California who has 30 years experience of working with Asperger patients. He wrote an article on this very question. His simple answer was “no”. He states that Asperger’s is not like heart disease or diabetes or similar physical conditions that can deteriorate over time. People are born with Asperger’s, and while the condition itself can change with time and often does, the underlying causes of Asperger’s do not worsen.
Roberson cites Tony Attwood, the internationally recognized expert on Asperger’s, that as the adult develops more coping skills and is better able to manage the demands of being around people, the same symptoms become less noticeable. Attwood states something that I think explains why some of my symptoms are more prominent as I have entered my 60s. It isn’t because the underlying condition has declined but because I care less about how my behavior affects others.
The simple answer to this question, according to some experts, is the symptoms of Asperger’s can get worse but the condition itself doesn’t.
I open the front door on my way outside. My friend who is waiting for me to move my car from behind hers says “John is here.” Well, I could see that John was walking towards the porch. I thought it strange my friend was telling me that since I wasn’t blind. But I didn’t say something she might have been offended by such as “So????”.
After locking the door behind me, she said, “You didn’t have to lock the door!” Ooops! Just another time I didn’t get the “unsaid” part of the message. She wasn’t announcing his arrival but was telling me I didn’t need to lock the door since he was coming inside. If she had stated what she didn’t say, I would have gotten the memo, so to speak. Then, she asked in a teasing sort of way, “What’s wrong with your mind?”
Nothin’ except my brain isn’t wired like my neurotypical friends. I’m not angry with my friends since there are times I wonder what’s wrong with their “thinkers”.
It was a Saturday morning and it was one with much anticipation in the household. My Mom, brother, and I all got up earlier than usual because my brother’s daughter was dropping in. It would have been nice if it had just been her, but her bringing my brother’s 8-month-old first grandchild made it FANTASTIC! My Mom and brother had seen him once, but it was a first time for me.
If it had just been a visit between myself and my niece, I would have talked her ear off. HA! Even with the addition of one, the baby, it would have been okay since he can’t talk yet. In a conversation where there is more than two, I don’t talk anybody’s ears off. I wish it wasn’t like that but my Autism is what it is.
During the visit, I could only take so much sitting there while the others socialized. I wanted to hold the baby but I didn’t have it in me to ask. If she had handed him to me, I would have gladly held him. Maybe my niece didn’t offer him to me because she noticed my cough. It probably was for the best since I was ailing with suspected allergies but just in case I was contagious, I wouldn’t have wished my crud on anybody, especially a baby.
I took as much as I could and then retreated to my bedroom and engaged my computer. It occurred to me that I could give my grandnephew one of my collection of gadgets. It was a remote car toy. I returned to the living room and gave it to my niece explaining he might like it when he gets older. My niece gladly received it and I was relieved about that. The sweet baby boy took a shine to it with his Mom handling the remote.
This made me feel so much better about their visit. It was awkward for me to enjoy the visit socially, but I could contribute a gift. Ironically, I wouldn’t have had such a gift along with my herd of gadgets if I wasn’t Autistic. I thought at the time, “Autism has both its thorns and blessings.”
Autism is a thorn in a group setting for me. It doesn’t matter how well I know or don’t know the people in the room. However, my Autism special interests/obsessions have helped me out as it did that day. I hope he will find out what his second cousins already know: their Great Aunt has the BEST toys in town!
The taxman cometh but not for me. My Mom’s tax preparer calls to let her know hers and my brother’s income tax form is complete and is coming over to deliver. I overhear the phone conversation and an alert message pops up in my brain. STAY IN MY ROOM! I am well within earshot of hearing the conversation between him and my Mom. He sounds like a friendly person. I know logically this house visitor is not a threat, but it doesn’t relieve the anxiety of the thought of making an appearance. I stay put until the coast is clear.
Maybe the reason I prefer dogs over cats is because cats remind me too much of ME!
I am on a grocery errand for someone else. The object of the errand is a bag of potatoes on sale. The person is emphatic in telling me if there aren’t any of the potatoes on sale to ask a store clerk for a raincheck. ASK A STRANGER? The store has a bad habit of putting items on sale and not keeping up with the “supply and demand”. I had no problem with getting the potatoes, but the thought of asking a grocery clerk was equivalent to asking me to climb a mountain. My hopes of there being plenty of 10 oz. bags of potatoes were dashed. Not a one! Instead of asking for a raincheck, I paid the difference of $3.00 and got a bag two pounds less. I was safe from being found out since it wasn’t a noticeable size difference. I emptied the bag into where the person kept her potatoes. A small price to pay for avoiding a mountain I chose not to climb. I did wonder if, and if so, how big a price difference would it have taken me to climb instead.
I’m meeting an eye doctor for the first time. On the way there, my fingers dig into the steering wheel. I know I have to show up. I lost my glasses and later my backup old prescription glasses. The necessity of glasses didn’t reduce my anxiety of meeting a stranger. I arrive at the same time the eye doctor does. I immediately sense a “welcome mat” from this person. Her smile and friendly voice put me at ease. My mute button turned off and I took off my mask. Then, I talk and overshare way too much to someone I had just met as I often do.
I see someone at the store I think I know. I’m a tad relieved the person hasn’t seen me yet. I hurriedly go to the next aisle and can hear his voice. It’s his! Now this is someone I love dearly. I often e-mail this person once a week, at least, with the ins and outs of that week as if I was a reporter, editor, and publisher of my own “weekly update”. He has told me more than once he is a HAPPY subscriber to my e-mails. So what’s the problem of dashing over and chatting with him? My brain doesn’t work that way. I avoid him like the plague, going through a maze of aisles, until I make my exit out the store door.
I’ve lost contact with a friend. My friend may have given up on me. Too many of her invitations to hang out together I passed up. She may want more than texts. Even my long e-mails of “What’s Up With Me” isn’t enough I guess. If we were just long distance friends, that would be okay with me. I suspect not for her though. I am not the best at being a friend in person, but I make a good pen pal.
What I can expect on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other get-togethers, etc.