Often focus on transition can be given to the stage when young people move on from school or college to adult life. However, many transition stages occur across our lifespan. Below, one of our AS Forum member describes their thoughts around the transition into middle age.
“One of the most difficult periods of transition for me has been reaching middle age. I have faced so many changes in my life over what feels like a very short period of time and have had to make some very major adjustments.
“The most difficult of these transitions has been the death of my mother and although I have always been very independent even since my early twenties, I have found the changes this has brought to my life very difficult to adapt to. My mother was the one person in my family who seemed genuinely interested in me and what I did. I miss this so much and don’t have a family of my own to help me cope with this stressful time. The loss of my mother has meant that as the single female in the family the main responsibility for the care of my father fell upon me. This was more care for his mental rather than physical wellbeing as he is a very quiet person who always depended on someone else to be there to encourage and support him. I myself struggle to cope with anxiety and depression on a daily basis and found it very difficult to be continually keeping someone else’s spirits up as well as my own. My father has not really been able to support my wellbeing for a number of years now, but possibly me helping him has benefited me in the long-run and made me feel as though I have made a difference to someone’s life.
“My father’s brother also died within a short space of time too and this has left me with awful feelings of guilt. I was so busy caring for my dad that I found it too much to be looking after the wellbeing of a second person.
“This time when I have had to face three major changes in the stability of my family has been very difficult although things have improved recently now that my dad has moved into a very good care home.
“Reaching middle age is a time which can cause feelings of anxiety in many people but a good social network is what helps them to cope with these changes. It can be difficult for people with Aspergers to meet others who are in a similar position ie facing older age and who also have an ASC. Many individuals don’t have families or partners of their own who can be a great support and siblings are too busy with their own lives. Most people on the spectrum don’t have the camaraderie of a workplace either.
“Another change which I have found very difficult to cope with is the decline in my vision. I could not get used to bi-focals and find constantly having to switch between ‘distance’ and ‘reading’ spectacles near to impossible to deal with. I find that much of the time I’m trying to cope when everything I’m looking at is blurred. If I have my reading specs on and look up, all is blurred and vice versa. My attempts at getting used to bi-focals lead to me feeling as though I was going to fall and I was advised by my optician that vari-focal lenses are not suitable to those who are prone to dizziness. I enjoy doing quite detailed art and craft work and have found that this has made it difficult for me to enjoy these hobbies. Having to change the distance of my face from the photograph I’m painting from to the picture is very difficult and I find it too hard to focus on the fine details.
“Another change I have had to get used to which has come with reaching middle age is that I am more clumsy than I ever was. I often knock things over, lose important items or drop things. This is probably part and parcel of reaching middle age but along with that I am female and middle age also brings with it the ‘Menopause’ which leads to all sorts of other challenges. It has lead to me having very high levels of anxiety and I have had to return to taking anti-depressant medication which I had been off for a few years. I was recently very upset at losing a piece of jewellery of my mum’s and have no recollection of how this could have happened. I only wore my 50th birthday present bracelet from my sister twice and lost that too! Constantly losing and dropping things is something which has caused me to become very depressed at times, especially since other people have been affected as a result of my absent mindedness.
“The most difficult thing for me to adapt to as a result of getting older has been the decline in my ability to both retain information and to recall the information that I do take in. In conversations I will be unable to recall names or words necessary to complete sentences and am forever saying ‘what was it again’ etc.”