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HI All, new here. NT daughter- have question

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Amy321, Jun 22, 2022.

  1. Amy321

    Amy321 New Member

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    Hi Everyone!
    I'm new here, and a NT daughter. My father has not been formally diagnosed but i realized a few years ago he has Asperger's. I'm 100% sure about it. I'd say 1000% if that were possible :)
    I know armchair diagnoses is frowned upon, but i do have a background in the MH field and have obviously interacted with him for a long time.
    My main question is- he is 73 years old-- Should I tell him that I suspect he has aspergers? I have not yet, but am thinking i should now.
    Has anyone here found out later in life, and what did you think about it? Was it a relief? I have mixed feelings on this.
    He will probably initially reject this, saying "there's nothing wrong with me" and could possibly (probably) get angry with me. But I also feel that regardless of the initial response he may have, he will think in detail about it. maybe obsessively so.
    Why do i want to tell him? well, I'd like to help him make sense of why he sees the world the way he does, and I think it could help him understand our relationship all these years, which can be strained and volatile. I also think he is at a stage in life where he is experiencing tremendous anxiety and loneliness. He was put on medication a few years ago for panic attacks.
    He has lost what few friends he had and is fairly socially isolated. He wants to be with my sister and I (both out of state). We have offered that he come live with either of us. And while he said he wants to, he always finds an 'excuse' why he can't (we're on the fence about it anyway).
    Recognizing his need for routine (and his sensitivities to things around him) i've also suggested he come stay for a brief period of time, then go home. Then go to my sisters, then go home- so he can have mini vactions but then get back to his routine. He always finds an excuse he can't leave- but then will complain he has to get out of his house/out of his town etc..
    I'm seeing him more 'trapped' than ever. I think he's paralyzed now by his own anxiety and responses to the world around him. I told him last week that i think he feels like he "wants everything to change, but also wants nothing to change".
    Long story short, I want to tell him i suspect Aspergers so he can understand some of his nuances, some of his needs, some of his responses to the world around him. i would like him to go back on medication for anxiety (and think he needs depression medication too). I do not think he'll go to a doctor for a specific diagnosis, but maybe he will understand more and we can work to find a solution to how he is feeling at this stage in life. What do you think? Could it help at this age/stage in life? if you went your whole life without a diagnosis would you be relieved to understand? his reactions can be volatile though.

    I started to provide historical information, but then deleted in the interest of keeping this brief. If anyone is curious why i am convinced he has Asperger's, I'm happy to share more details.
     
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  2. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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  3. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Here's the reality with most of us as we get older,...we get more set in our ways. It's not that we don't learn new things, it's just that it's less likely that we are going to change our behaviors.

    That said, a diagnosis of an ASD has different effects upon different people. I was relieved as it gave me some context and perspective to understand my life. However, at 73,...he may see this information as "a day late and a dollar short". He may not see the point in any of it to begin with. I also think that many "older" adults do not understand what autism is and may unwittingly misunderstand the diagnosis. Education level and personality will play a part in any of this.

    The process of testing and diagnosis, will vary. I thought all of this is pretty much uniform, with "standards of practice" in 2022,...but from talking with others on here, my experience was quite intense with hours of testing,...and others were simply diagnosed via an interview process. Diagnosis of an ASD,...in my mind,...should be specific for the age and gender of the individual. I am not the same person I was as a child, a teen, a young adult, a middle aged adult, etc.,...so how I would perform and interview would vary.
     
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  4. Amy321

    Amy321 New Member

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    Thanks so much for replying! I very much appreciate your insight (and the other poster who provided links).
    I do think my dad is set in his ways and NOT likely to change too much. And i don't necessarily need him to change who he is, but would like him to be able to address some of the things that are now severely limiting him-- Because HE wants a change, and i see him as trapped and spinning his wheels not figuring out how to do that.
    I want to believe that a diagnosis (even if he just reads about it and understands how likely it is he has it) will help him understand why he does some of what he does- and maybe it will be a relief? That's my hope anyway. Maybe he would get on forums and connect with others as well.
    He gets frustrated with the world around him but I know deep down he craves connections.
    I also want him to understand the need for continued medication to deal with some of his depression and anxiety.
    That said, I believe he's spent the majority of his life trying to fit in, and carving out an image of himself and people around him (it's them, not him)- and at his age, he might be resistant to hear about or accept this. He is very proud of certain things about himself (and he should be), but when i address some things, lie his anxiety- he has told me "i don't need that medication, there's nothing wrong with me".
    I'll continue to think about whether or not i approach this with him. I'm thinking i'll maybe "plant a seed" about ASD (not saying i think he has it) but see if anything resonates with him and if he goes and looks into it.
     
  5. VictorR

    VictorR Random Member V.I.P Member

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    Hello and welcome!

    Your father is lucky to have a caring daughter in you.

    Your dilemma reminds me of the one I had several years ago after receiving an adult diagnosis after several years - which included having two trusted family members meet with the psychologist to provide insight into my younger self (since one of the criteria, for a DSM-5 diagnosis, is that there were signs from early childhood). The dilemma was that during my journey, I came to realize that some of my eccentric relatives were almost certainly on the spectrum.

    We realized that given that there's lots of misunderstanding about autism (and as the Dunning-Kruger effect notes, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing), and that it's still quite stigmatized, and would be awkward to bring up, that the three of us would keep the information and thoughts to ourselves, but that when we interact with those other relatives, to keep our thoughts in mind, and approach them with that understanding, so if cousin X makes an aloof comment, to consider that they didn't mean it, etc.

    This is really a "your mileage may vary" situation where you don't know unless you say it, but that doing so is a step you can't undo if they don't take it well, and so perhaps the best you can do is to assume they're on the spectrum, and provide whatever support and understanding that you can provide to help him live out the rest of his retirement as happy as he can be.

    Best wishes.
     
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  6. Atrapa Almas

    Atrapa Almas 70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN V.I.P Member

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    Hello, I have a very similar situation with my father.

    I just told him that I think I have some Aspergers traits and that some "family" things could also be Aspergers. He took it like an insult.

    So I recomend you to just ask about aspergers, to see what he thinks about that. If he is informed and have an open mind attitude towards the topic, you could go further. On the other hand if he thinks thats a severe illness, a disgrace, a shame, etc... you might not insist on that line.

    Another good way may be go the indirect route, like watching with him a documentary or movie on the topic, and coment it.

    For many of us its better if we get to the idea than if the idea is shown to us. We may reject new ideas on first instance, but this depends on how your father is. You probably know him very well.

    I started thinking I migth have Aspergers traits while whatching some aspie girls talking about their experiences. I had read about it before, but the technical stuff did not matched with my experiences.

    Best of luck. I also think your father is lucky to have you. :)
     
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  7. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    Does he read? Perhaps you can suggest a book.
     
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  8. Ella Spell

    Ella Spell Something V.I.P Member

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    Hello and welcome.

    My mother is ten years older than your dad, and I have the same issue. I'm almost certain that she's on the spectrum but strangely enough this didn't occur to me until recently. I always focussed on my dad's, my brother's and my own autistic "type" and didn't connect the dots with her. She presents in a different way than the rest of us yet she still ticks all the boxes. I can't believe I didn't see it.

    I like the advice everyone else has given. At their age it's very hard to expect any change and they likely have biases against what autism even means. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't talk to him about it. It's completely up to you, based on his personality and what you think would be best for him overall.

    Ironically, my mother is in hospital and the doctors just spoke to me today about her mental health including panic attacks and avoidance of change. I told them I was Autistic / ADHD and almost suggested that they screen her for both conditions, but I realised a) in her case, there's no benefit of her learning an ASD diagnosis and b) even if she's ADHD I know she won't take the meds because she fears change / new medicines. I ended up asking them to just screen for depression, anxiety and panic which they did in a rather lacklustre and unproductive way.

    The other day I was thinking of ways to entertain her during her hospitalisation. I considered taking some ASD quiz questions with me and just telling her they were a random personality quiz from a magazine (lol). If she knew more than that she would get really stressed out. In the end I decided I could answer most of the questions on her behalf without even asking her.

    As an adult with ASD I can see the pros and cons of discussing autism with an elderly parent.

    I'm sorry I don't have specific advice but your post resonated so loudly, I just had to reply.

    :rolleyes:
     
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  9. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    He would be unusual if he knew anything much about Aspergers /ASD1, most people connect to the Rainman idea in the film with Dustin Hoffman, where in fact anyway that person had a different condition. You will quite likely get a negative response, I would expect.

    I agree with the show, don't tell approach suggested by @Atrapa Almas, your dad might pick up on it that way, but also he sounds like he sees the issues he comes up against as the fault of others, which isn't unusual in NTs or NDs. Is that likely to change at this late stage of life? Hmm.

    I think my dad probably had Aspergers too, and he spent a lifetime thinking others were problematic, never himself. He was very unsuccessful in relating at work or at home. My mum on the other hand I would think has low power narcissism. She tends to be very closed to others inputs.

    If he's interested to watch a useful programme, yes why not. What programme might you try?
     
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  10. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    He probably wants to visit but not to live with. "Living with" could become extremely stressful.

    I see no point in telling him your suspicions. The mind grows brittle with age. That is just as true with NTs as with NDs. There's therapy and there's medication but unless you have good genes, there's no avoiding that decline. If he'd been told in his 50s and he didn't reject it oughtright, it might have been useful. Now? Might as well tell him he's an alien from Mars.

    Your father is losing his physical ability to function and some executive function as well. What he sees in his future is very bad and it frightens the hell out of him. (I am younger than him and it frightens the hell out of me.) Aging brings on fear and often anger. Anxiety and panic become more likely. His family needs to visit him, maybe take him on little trips around town, not drag him out of his safe place to visit them.

    He should be going to counseling and have a geriatrics specialist for his doctor. Mention it to the counselor and you've done what you can do.

    My mother-in-law lived to 100 but I could see dementia start to creep in during her mid 80s. Initially, my daughter lived with her for a while but she became mean and cruel toward her. Then she moved in with us for a few years while she continued downhill. In her late 90s we had no choice but a senior care facility. She enjoyed it much more than living with us. The people were experienced and knew how to keep elderly people happy and since she wasn't living with us, she had a small sense of independence.
     
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  11. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Just to add, my father had what they thought was Parkinsons at first, but then realised to be dementia symptoms, at about 70. At first he seemed a bit deaf and confused, not as if it was a mental health issue, but he could not recognise us by 73, and died after breaking his leg in a fall at the doorstep of his home. Dr's felt he did not understand his situation and was unable to use or consent to treatments, which were therefore very frightening procedures. It was dementia with Lewybodies.
     
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  12. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I began to unravel this "personal mystery" at the age of 55. For me it was incredibly enlightening. Though some 11 years later I find no incentive to secure a formal medical diagnosis either. But I will go to my grave knowing who and what I am being able to fill in some "blanks" relative to my traits, behaviors and a vexing lifetime struggle to interact with others.

    But I have to say, IMO this is very much a personal journey best initiated by the person in question. In the end, the most critical opinion is your own and not anyone else. Had someone approached me about such a thing at any point of my life, I probably would have dismissed it immediately. I had to go down a long road strewn with potholes and plenty of self-denial before realizing I am on the spectrum of autism.

    If I had to guess, I suspect it's likely your father will just dismiss any such suggestion, even if you appear to have compelling evidence. However all that said, it may or may not make him think about it as I did, to a point where I could no longer fool myself about it over time. That it might "get the ball rolling" for him to take this quest on his own terms.

    I also have two cousins I'm certain are on the spectrum. However no, I've never approached them about it and really don't intend to. Both are in their 60s as well.
     
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  13. clg114

    clg114 Still crazy, after all these years. Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    Welcome to Autism Forums! I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when I was 62. I always knew that I was different from other people around me, I just did not know how or why. I had never heard of Asperger's until I was 60. I first heard of of it from a documentary that I watched. After that I researched Asperger's for a couple of years. By then I thought I had Asperger's, so I got my GP to refer me to a psychologist with autism experience. Three visits later and I got a diagnosis for Asperger's Syndrome. This diagnosis answered a lot questions that I had about myself. For me it was a positive experience. Now I am 76 and I would do the same thing regarding a diagnosis. Now I know that we are all different, but your father deserves at least a few hints so he can think about it. By the way, having Asperger's does not mean that there is something wrong you. I could very well mean that you are gifted.
     
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  14. Sunny1

    Sunny1 BeautySeeker V.I.P Member

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    Your father might enjoy these autistic forums if you tell him about this interesting site that you found. Then he can come to his own conclusions.
     
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  15. Ronald Zeeman

    Ronald Zeeman Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm undiagnosed, I figured it out for myself, told my kids who suspected. also realized it enriched my life, would not want to get diagnosed and be told there is something wrong with me that needs to get fixed or worse here are some more drugs we want you to take. I happy with who am, learned a long time ago the purpose of life is to be happy.
     
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  16. AprilR

    AprilR Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Me and my dad are also autistic and i found out about 10 years ago. My dad has a lot of internalized self hatred i feel, so i never shared it since there is no help or social services available where i live anyway

    Learning about it helped me a lot either way, i used to hate him for being weird but now i am a lot more understanding towards him as well as myself. He is the person i trust most in the world.

    I think you should consider whether it would contribute to his life if you were to share it. You might handle this knowledge well, but he might not. If there is help available for elderly autistic people where you live though, it might be worth a shot.

    If he has anxiety issues and such, maybe you can try to guide him towards asking for help from a professional. A professional might also consider it too, whether to tell him or not. Good luck either way!