Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mental age vs. chronological age

At 22, the world views me as an adult.. I can drive a car (usually), I can vote, and I could even drink if I wanted to (meh, no thanks). People frequently remind me of this fact... my stepdad and my case manager are the most notable examples.

But let me tell you a not-so-secret secret. There's very little about me that's adult.

My interests are those of probably a 4th grader. I love VeggieTales the same way that I loved them when I met them at 10 years old. I started reading Little House on the Prairie when I was about 8, and just last year I asked for the full set for Christmas. I was Laura Ingalls for a school event in 5th grade and junior year of college. Also in college, I would go to the Curriculum Library (for education majors) and read the books there. Now, I go to the local library and go to the juvenile section. Even the teenage fiction books are too much for me... I can read academic papers and understand, but I can't follow the plot of a teenage or adult fiction book. I've tried to convince myself many times that I care about boys, but the fact is that I don't. I'd much rather have my cat.

I'm also very attached to my mother the way a child would be. I depend on her, even though she's tried to raise us to be independent. I'm afraid to go places without her. I'm okay staying in the house by myself, but I'm happier when my mom is home.

At work, there's a girl who comes in to do community service for her school. She's 15 but acts much younger. To be truthful, so far, she's the only person I can really talk to at work. The other adults just... they're adults. I don't have anything to talk to them about.

I've been thinking about the women's bible study I went to at my church, and I think this is the problem. Mentally, I'm much younger than they are. Their interests are husbands and jobs, and mine are children's books, Alton Brown, and my cat. There's a "ministry to the disabled" at my church, and I emailed the woman in charge. She said that the people range in ability and functioning levels from able to drive and hold down a job to unable to communicate. I wonder if I would be more comfortable at this ministry. I feel like it's labeling myself as disabled, which I don't really want to do, but at the same time, I want a place and people at church that feels like home.

I wasn't always so behind in terms of mental age as I am now. The gap has grown as I've gotten older, if that makes sense.

Some days I think about trying to play catch up. But you know, I don't think I'd be happy if I did that. I like what I like. If those things happen to be things that people younger than me typically like, then so be it. It would be nice if I could find one adult interest to talk to other adults about... maybe Alton Brown counts?

I just wish there were something that told people who meet me that I'm not a "real" adult. People ask me questions that I can't answer all the time. They expect me to know things. I guess that's the thing about autism... it's on the inside, not the outisde.


  1. I can see that the gap has grown. And it does grow.

    Maybe you and the girl are the same age, in how she and you act.

    The disabled ministry would have a wide range of ages and that same disconnect, or similar.

    And you like what you like.

  2. Yeah, hence the phrase "invisible disability." I feel like that sometimes. What kind of things do people expect you to know? Adult things or well NT things? Because you can still be an adult with, well, developmental issues. You have still grown even if not as fast as your peers.

  3. Hi I'm Little Tigger.
    U can talk to me if u want to.

    I have a message bord
    its my playroom kind of i don't
    bost much there just some times
    and i am at Wron planet too.

    sorry i don't mean to bother
    you sorry if i cat like a 7 year
    old becuse that is what i am inside
    and i love my kittypuss FuzzMo.
    yes i got a kittypuss too and
    my brother has 2 of them.

  4. Lydia, what a wonderful post. I totally understand what you are saying. As you probably know, you are not the only one with such issues.

    I just wanted to let you know that someone out in cyber space does understand.

    Take care and keep blogging...

  5. I loved reading this post. It's a very reflective post, lots of information about yourself and the world that you have picked up. I was a late bloomer, too, and I'm thankful for it now (though wasn't at the time). Because I believe it gave me lots of time to get to know who I was, to appreciate it, and to reflect on myself and the world. Eleanor Roosevelt is a good example of inner strength. Good for you, Lydia.