Diagnosed with autism at 35, woman calls it 'a relief'

A St. John's woman who didn't find out she was on the autism spectrum until she was an adult says it was a welcome discovery.

Trudy Goold learned she had autism after reading about traits

Trudy Goold wasn't officially diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum until she was 35. She said it came as a relief because it helped explain many of the problems she had growing up. (Submitted)

A St. John's woman who didn't find out she was on the autism spectrum until she was an adult says it actually came as a relief.

Trudy Goold always knew she couldn't function quite like most other people, and wondered what made her different.

Something as simple as keeping her living area clean seemed nearly impossible — just one example of the many issues that strained her relationship with her parents and other family when she was growing up.

Goold encourages others to press for a diagnosis if they suspect they're on the spectrum and feel they need assistance. (Submitted)

Then one day in 2007, her sister — who was studying to become a speech language pathologist — sent her documents that explained some of the traits of people with autism and Asperger's.

"I burst into tears and had a minor breakdown — a meltdown, actually — that we later figured out was actually relief," she told the St. John's Morning Show.

"Because here was proof that I was not alone, that other people had the same sort of issues and difficulties I had."

Official diagnosis

A few years later in 2012, Goold — then 35 years old — finally got an official diagnosis. After that she began to really learn about autism and Asperger's and how her life and relationships had been affected by the condition.

"There's a saying: if you've met one autistic, you've met one autistic," she said.

"Because what sensory issues we have, what communication difficulties we have, what executive function issues we have — are all different."

Goold says she likes certain sensations, such as being pushed back in her seat during an airplane takeoff. (Mike Hillman/CBC News)

In her case, Goold is very sensitive to light, heat, sound and taste. She also likes certain tactile sensations.

"I love plane takeoffs. I love driving along the highway," she said. "All of that sort of helps relax me and helps calm me down."

She also has a "clutter coach," who helps her overcome issues with keeping her place clean.

"It's not my fault that I can't do these things. It's just the way I perceive the world interferes with that," she said.

"I can't take an outside job. I can't work in a kitchen, I can't work in a retail store. So to know that yes, I am definitely autistic, that I match the criteria, was sort of in that way a relief."

Inexplicable actions, explained

Goold said the whole experience of learning about her autism has changed how her family sees her.

"My relationship with the members of my family has gotten a lot better. There is a lot more understanding on my parents' part of certain behaviours that seemed inexplicable at the time."

Her father has now come to the conclusion that he may also be on the spectrum.

Having lived her childhood and young adult years completely unaware that she was on the autism spectrum, Goold says she has a unique perspective to share and calls herself an advocate.

She suggests people read blogs written by adults with autism if they think they are on the spectrum.

With files from St. John's Morning Show