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Dec 2, 2013

I was given one printed sheet telling me about [The National Autistic Society] and how to contact them, which I did. I was not offered any assessment of my needs and the local authority and health service have never been in contact with me about my ASD, so I don’t know whether I should get support to meet my needs. Maybe it depends on how one defines 'needs'. I get depressed and anxious and do not have anyone to talk to about it. I don’t see a counsellor or psychologist, but I'd welcome a chance to do so if it could be arranged

I have some arthritis, some forgetfulness, and a pervasive sense of an unfulfilled life and loneliness. The physical heart is fine, but my mental heart isn't happy. I feel that if I could find something fulfilling and useful to do, especially something with a technological content, it could help me with my present feeling of unfulfilled worthlessness.

I definitely am feeling both loneliness and isolation. This is pretty common in elderly folk generally, but in my case it's also largely engendered by my introspective nature. I never learned how to go out and find friends because I've always been too busy and too shy to allocate time to doing that.

A year after my diagnosis, when I raised the question of isolation and loneliness associated with Asperger's, my GP suggested I contact the nearest Aspie group, which I've done, but it is 170 miles away - rather a long way to go. I don’t think he understands my needs as a person with Asperger’s at all.

I don't really have any friends, only occasional acquaintances, and if and when I meet them I feel I have to go along with their wishes rather than impose mine. There’s no club or social meeting place locally where people know my name, so my only social relationships tend to be through social networking or forums. I'm interested in the idea of e-befriending and wondering if I could somehow participate, not necessarily to only receive befriending support from the NAS, but perhaps to give some online support as well.

I'd like to belong to a local group that's not only there for recreational purposes, but which also doubles up as a kind of self-help counselling group; where members could speak freely to other members about their problems and worries. In other words, provide a kind of substitute for unaffordable counselling services. I think not having anyone to talk to is at the heart of the loneliness and isolation that many old folk tend to suffer. I haven't thought through the details of how such a group could be organised; there would need to be some arrangement in place to avoid get-togethers descending into prolonged agony sessions and keep a nice balance going between social recreation and such heart-to-heart substitute counselling.

I consider myself pretty healthy for my age. I cycle and always walk around town to do my shopping, but I don't generally exercise for its own sake; there has to be a purpose to it. I like hill walking, a bit of photography, playing with satellite TV dishes, trying to solve my own and other people's computer problems where I can, and generally messing around with electrical gadgets.

I live in my own short-term holiday accomodation, but I travel a lot and am away more than I'm there. I have a wife in a far-away tropical country and I stay in her house quite a bit, especially in winter. Other family difficulties are such a serious issue with me that I have isolated myself from them and drawn red danger zones around them. I had a family, but I haven't been in touch for over 20 years now.

I've been retired for the last 17 years, after taking voluntary redundancy, so I am financially independent. My career entailed living for quite longish periods in many different countries all around the world. Quite exotic, actually. I have a degree and was quite successful.

I had some difficulties at work, but in those days nobody had heard of Asperger’s, not even me. I was no good at multi-tasking, and got confused in situations requiring compromise rather than perfection. I resisted attempts to promote me to positions where I would have had to manage staff. Although there was no support on my AS-related difficulties, my different bosses tended to like my unusual style.

Looking back on it, I believe I subconsciously chose an unsettled, nomadic kind of life in preference to a conventional one in order to avoid all the social complications that living in a conventional community requires. In retirement the expat community keep in touch via an online email group.

I visit lots of places and I'm often on the move. In 2010 I spent three months in the USA, and met some Aspies there. I met an acquaintance in Las Vegas and travelled with them to Mexico where I ended up living on my own again looking after a country ranch. I've visited New Zealand several times and done quite extensive touring there. In 2011 I stayed with a British family on one of the offshore islands around UK, and thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in day-to-day household chores with them. It was a very nice change for me.

My working career infected me with itchy feet to such an extent  that I don't feel inclined to settle anywhere permanently, but I can see that this is going to make life more difficult as I get older.

Within the constraints of what's possible, I suppose I do what I want every day: but basically, unless I’m travelling, mundane domestic activities occupy my whole time, so social activities rarely get any look-in. What I want to do is work on clearing up the daily tasks I always seem to have outstanding, so that I can be free to embark on some bigger project in future, like joining some volunteer group perhaps.

I would consider moving into a care home if I could no longer cope on my own, but I can't really imagine myself in that situation. I've spent my whole life being busy and wouldn't know how to relax. I'm well in to my retirement already and I'm simply living it on a day-to-day drifting on basis. I can't think of any one person who understands my current unusual set-up sufficiently well to weigh up all my possible options and choices and make recommendations about what my final move and resting place should be.

I feel unfulfilled, as if I ought to be making amends for all the things I've missed out on in pursuit of my exotic life. I was taught and tasked by my grandmother to leave the world in a better state than it was when I first arrived, and I don't really feel I've done enough yet to make that possible. Trouble is, I don't know how best to channel my abilities to achieve it.


Source: National Autistic Society UK

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Posted: Monday December 2, 2013, 3:06 am
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