“One huge hurdle is that so many people think it means something completely different. I’m 78, I don’t think I can be bothered to explain to them.”

Name: M
Age: 70-79
Location: Wales

I have worked for an autistic charitable trust, did lots of training etc, but all the young people they supported had multiple needs and mostly had learning difficulties. A few months ago I was watching a live interview with Katherine May. The subject was her two books: The Electricity of Things and Wintering. These are both fairly difficult to read – I’m half way through Wintering at the moment. I can’t remember when she was diagnosed with autism but it was fairly recently.

As she talked about it she mentioned cutting labels out of clothes, and that made me sit up and take notice. I have always had to do that and, when it had been impossible, I have made a soft cover and sewn it in to stop the label getting to me. That go t me thinking about the social awkwardness, the inability to go in a cafe on my own, the not getting how to be in certain situations, and so on. Lockdown resulted in me not wanting to go out and so I have somehow managed to isolate myself almost completely. I chat to neighbours and seem friendly and outgoing, but there it is. When I was a child I was a bit on the outside but just considered rude or difficult etc etc etc… you know the drill.

Quite honestly, it is hard to get my mind round it. I won’t bother with any kind of assessment, couldn’t cope with the hassle and nothing to be gained.

Not one single person fits ‘the mould’. Women and girls, especially, get missed because it is supposed to be a male thing. One huge hurdle is that so many people think it [autism] means something completely different. I’m 78, I don’t think I can be bothered to explain to them.