Thursday, October 29, 2009
Oddly, when I first realized I had AS, even before formal diagnosis, there were a handful of people I'd known over the years whom I suspected might also have been on the spectrum, and this man was one of those.
Sadly, like me, he had been locked into a single specific profession for his entire life (obsessive interest) and had no training or experience in anything else. Due to changes in the industry over the past decade or more, jobs in that field have become extremely scarce and barely resemble the work we had grown to love and at which we had come to excel.
Like me, he had become lost and at loose ends as to where to find a place in the world outside that career. After several years of unemployment, during which the wife he adored left him, he apparently opted to end his life.
Fortunately for me, during an identical period of professional implosion, I discovered the name for my handicap and managed to grasp the lifeline of SSDI Disability. Else, I no doubt would have come to the same conclusion.
Yet, as I have discovered painfully throughout the process, for those of us who grew up with AS before its inclusion in the DSM, in the public consciousness we don't exist. Autism is a children's malady. Autistic adults are invisible.
If HFA in adults were recognized as a genuine handicap by the media, my friend might have discovered that his difficulties were not personal failings and may have found some lifeline that kept him from ultimate despair.
He had been on my mind quite frequently the past few months. I only wish I could have found him before it was too late.
I - and I strongly suspect he - and many of our generation, have been autistic children. God Damn the society that treats those as if autism disappears at 18. For most of us, that's when the real problems are only beginning.
Written by my friend Willard on WrongPlanet. Thank you, Willard, for this wonderful letter. Alien visual: courtesy of WrongPlanet.Net