ALAG and Autism Hub’s recent well attended webinar covered a much under researched topic – age and autism.
The webinar was in halves and I had the pleasure of contributing to the first section with a panel discussion. I wanted raise three issues for debate : using existing coping mechanism after diagnosis in later life ; the behaviours which come with later life and their interaction with demands of an autism routine as well as the interaction between autism and big life decisions in middle age. The other panellist built on these points by providing personal experiences on retirement and autism – exploring the use of special interests.
Audiences responses were insightful. One comment on the difficulties of health care and financial circumstances which come with older age were a timely introduction to an excellent presentation by Rebecca Charlton from the Goldsmiths University.
The lack of research among older people with autism was particularly noteworthy. This informed the remainder of the presentation on health care access, mental wellbeing, health inequalities and general quality of life.
A recurring theme among audience discussion was the cross over between autism’s need for routine and the generally reinforced behaviours as one gets older. Access and health care as well as risks for vulnerable women were also raised.
Overall, this was insightful webinar leaving me with the conclusion that more research is welcome – paving the way for better understanding, better health care access and better quality of life for autistic people as they grow older.
Nick Stone, Autism Hub peer support facilitator & ALAG member, 7 September 2022