'I got an Asperger's diagnosis aged 45'

Aly Gynn, who has Asperger syndrome, photographed by Robin Hammond

How having an autism spectrum disorder in adulthood affected Aly, who describes the effects of an Asperger's diagnosis in middle-age.

"My name is Aly Gynn. I am 46 years old and was formally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome last year."  

"I had diagnosed myself three years earlier. I was teaching adults with autism and had a sudden realisation. Throughout my teaching career I had periods of depression. I pushed myself too hard and worried intensely about my pupils, sometimes to the point of breakdown. I now attribute this to Asperger syndrome.

"Despite having the support of my homeopath, friends and family, and a good GP, getting a diagnosis was exhausting. I struggled to convince them that I had autism because I didn’t match their preconceived ideas of the disability. I think they felt I had managed in life so far, but I needed to know how to cope.

"Receiving the diagnosis felt like the last piece of the jigsaw. But I was frightened of things becoming concrete, of finding out how I was different to others and realising my areas of difficulty. I was genuinely shocked to discover that people don't think like me, aren't preoccupied by the same things and don't experience the same sensory issues. For example, I find the sound of pans banging together painful.

'Receiving the diagnosis felt like the last piece of the jigsaw. But I was frightened of things becoming concrete, of finding out how I was different from others and realising my areas of difficulty'

"I have now learnt what is good for my health and to concentrate on my creative work. My work is me. It’s a comfort to have it around me in my flat.

"Books of my poetry and a ‘running tap of words’ also surround me. Sometimes words come too quickly and I have to write things down on any piece of paper to hand. I have done some performance work, but my written work feels safer. I can’t play games or pretend not to be me."

As I See It: autism photography exhibition

Aly took part in "As I See It", an exhibition exploring how people with autism view the world. Their portraits, taken by photographer Robin Hammond, appear throughout the features on autism. 

"I have enormous respect for the power of photography, but I knew that I would find the experience difficult. It would be really important for me to have complete trust in the photographer to capture me and some of my story.

"Robin and I chatted intensely. It was an incredible day, but I could not talk to anyone much for a week or two afterwards. It is wonderful to meet compassionate, warm and exceptionally lovely people, but it can be tiring. I need words, not as therapy but to help me explain my abstract world.

"I absorb everything like a sponge in five or six different dimensions, so when I've had a big day, I need to get back to a routine to settle myself down, because I don’t let go of things like other people do."

Aly Gynn, Bury St Edmunds

Read more about the As I See It exhibition.

Page last reviewed: 07/05/2014

Next review due: 07/05/2016


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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Smurfette 12 said on 14 December 2012


I am so glad you got your happy ending and I am also glad to have found your story on the net. I am in a very similar situation - I am a new teacher had the same worries as you in the end it drove me to destruction (of myself and objects around me) so I had to leave and I am being treated for depression but I 'know I am autistic and always have been. I knew this from a very young age as soon as I was aware I was different to others. My parents didn't want to get me diagnosed in case it affected my schooling in a negative way because I was a 'bright' child I was able to get by with good grades without having to listen to a single word the teachers said in class. I was used to having no friends, being bullied and hated at school and just stayed in my own world. It was only as I got older and social convention gets stronger, that I struggled throughout college and uni academically and socially, and now in my career and life. I really want help and support for my autism but over the years I have been laughed at by doctors who won't listen to me. If I get diagnosed officially, I am worried it will hinder my job prospects also and my career as a teacher. I really need advice as I want to move on with my life and just can't. The more stressed and depressed I get the more 'offensive' the world seems - I literally scream when someone has the hot air blowers on in the car as the noise drills into me. I just need help.

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Alyster Gynn said on 08 July 2011

Since this the time that this exhibition took place and that this website published this article. I felt that it was important to clarify and update your readers of further developments - especially as they have been health related. After the diagnosis of AS - I was then, thankfully, diagnosed with Severe Gender Dysphoria. I have now completed my Gender re-assignment and am Male - Hence Alyster Gynn. Great Web Site, I remain pleased to have contributed to it in some way. Kind Regards.

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Bernardette said on 15 August 2008

Thank you for letting me into your world. It will help me to have more understanding with people who just see the world in a different way. I think possible we all have a little autism in us. May life take you where you want it it.

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purple ann said on 11 June 2008

I look forward to meeting you Aly I also don't play games and am completely me and am friends with Chris

See you at Solstice

Purple Ann

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Media last reviewed: 29/05/2015

Next review due: 29/05/2017