Life on the Autism spectrum

John - Interview 52

Male
Age at interview: 65
Age at diagnosis: 62

Brief outline: John, 65, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 62. He had a series of jobs and started some university courses over the years but is now unemployed and fills up his days 'by wasting time'.

Background: John, a former croupier, lives on his own and is unemployed. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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John, 63, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome two years ago after a discussion about autism with fellow members of a psychotherapy group encouraged him to go to his GP. John was diagnosed by a clinical psychologist and felt a sense of relief because somebody understood what he was like.
 
John was brought up by his grandmother after his mother entered a psychiatric hospital when he was a baby. He had a good childhood and describes not getting on badly at school but not getting on well. He was excellent at French and English and “pretty useless at everything else”. His father told him that in order to succeed in life you had to be good at maths and John took this literally. He did not like football, any form of conflict or contact and avoided being bullied at school by keeping his head down.
 
John describes having a long history of misreading people and this, combined with his strong work ethic, has led to him having a series of jobs over the years in which he has been taken for granted, exploited or abused. He has a strong eye for detail, is efficient and competent within the workplace but cannot multi-task. He has suffered from depression and no longer works. He went back to college to do languages and did very well but could not complete the courses.
 
Now John describes filling his days up by wasting time. He lives on his own and finds it difficult to keep his house organised. His house is cluttered with books, magazines, newspapers and “mountains of stuff”. A support worker visits him every two or three weeks and helps him to sort out things but he would like more support with his domestic life. He meets up with a group of people with AS in a local pub each week which he enjoys and gets on very well with people. John feels that he has spent his life being good at French and trying hard but that he has somehow missed out; “it is as if I am walking around and everybody has got it but me because I have got Aspergers.”

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