Older and wiser?

Is is better to be diagnosed with autism as a child or an adult?

‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing’ is an absolute nonsense of a phrase. In fact, if you use Bing to search the web, then the first hit you get attributes the quote to that great philosopher David Beckham.  In truth, the phrase is a) from William Blake and b) a few words longer.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but foresight is better, especially when it comes to saving life, or some pain!

Now that makes a bit more sense. I’d probably change ‘wonderful’ to shitty and scrap ‘but’, but aside from that I can identify. I’ve certainly bogged myself down in recent weeks with hindsight and a liberal dose of ‘what ifs.’

Underpinning this, is one massive ‘what if’: What if I’d been diagnosed with autism as a child? How would my life have turned out? That then opens up a rabbit hole of other questions – what job would I have, where would I live, what education would I have got, would I be as handsome, would I be married and a father etc etc.

I don’t look at it and think that life would have been necessarily better. There’s a parallel universe where I get diagnosed at the age of 7, get sent to a special needs school, I don’t go to Uni, I don’t move to the Midlands, meet my wife, have a child and do all the other wonderful things I’ve done in life. But maybe I also wouldn’t have the mental health issues that have plagued me.

Instead…well let’s just say I’ve got about 200 different answers to that. Starting off homeless and going all the way through to being the first person to score a Test match 100 for England whilst simultaneously being top of the New York best sellers list. Plus there’s the option that absolutely nothing would be different.

adult autism test

In reality, I haven’t got the foggiest what would have happened. The one thing I do know is that things would be different.  Better maybe, worse maybe, but different certainly. And that’s one of the really difficult things to mentally deal with.  There’s no real benefit in thinking about what might have been, but it’s impossible to not think that way.


Pause to chill

I can highly recommend watching Russian Doll on Netflix. It’s funny, very well acted, and a clever little story about a women stuck in a timeloop. I was left feeling annoyed by it.

You see, it was illogical. Woman dies, wakes up in the same scenario, different stuff happens, she dies, repeat, repeat. There’s no logical explanation. I wanted there to be a logical explanation. Sure there are clues as to what’s going on, but essential it’s a fantasy scenario.

My brain really struggles with stuff like that. I’m always looking for the rational. I wanted her to be in a coma or for the whole thing to be some elaborate ruse (admittedly, it would have been the most elaborate of all ruses!). There was never going to be a rational explanation, it wasn’t that sort of programme.

I have similar issues with ghost stories. I watched the Haunting of Hill House recently. It’s excellent, but throughout I wanted there to be a rational explanation for the ghostly goings on. The explanation was ghosts. I wasn’t happy. Why couldn’t it be the mum setting up a load of (admittedly ridiculously) elaborate tricks.

On the flip side, films that are seemingly supernatural but end up having a rational explanation I find hugely satisfying.  The Boy is a good example even though it’s a bang average film. The idea that it all makes sense is something I find very necessary.


 Back in the room

There’s also the issue of responsibility and life situation.  My life ‘map’ has been largely filled in. To discover now that my brain could have been better utilised isn’t a great deal of use, when I’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed.

flat lay photography of macbook pro beside paper

A diagnosis as a child gives support workers and the child a chance to find the right life path. I’ve muddled through my working life doing roles that I’ve found 90%+ mind-numbingly dull, and not feeling happy or fulfilled at the end of the day.  As nice as it seems, I can’t just sack it in and take some time to find the best way to properly get the most out of my brain.

Clearly, there are a lot of negatives about receiving a diagnosis as a child. Whilst perceptions are better nowadays, bullying and discrimination isn’t entirely a thing of the past. I can recall a couple of children from my primary school who had mental health issues, and they had an horrendous time. Whilst I was never part of the bullying – I was always too concerned that I’d end up being the victim so just steered clear of the whole thing – I never did anything about it.  So not being part of the solution I guess makes me part of the problem.

I’ll never know how my life would have been had a received an autism diagnosis as a child. I suspect that I’ll always sporadically think about it.


So far, I’ve been talking pretty broadly about autism and myself. So now we’ve got that out of the way, I’m going to be more niche in future posts. I’ll be looking at specific aspects of autism and my behaviour. To start with I’m going to have a deep dive on a topic that’s been a bone of contention for me for years.

And that’s a small clue as to what it’s going to be about!

By the way, I’m still waiting for my referral…

Author: Simon Day

I'm a content writer and blogger covering Worcestershire and beyond. Check out my work at SimonDayContent.com

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