Krista Kemper pt 2: Navigating Life with a Late Autism Diagnosis
April 11, 2024
Krista Kemper pt 2: Navigating Life with a Late Autism Diagnosis

“I have a different operating system. The thing about autism is that it can look so different in every person. It’s a spectrum. So I liken it to Linux. Because everybody that really knows, runs and uses Linux, no two setups will look the same.”

In this episode, I’m back with Krista Kemper, talking about her journey to receiving an autism diagnosis as an adult and how that has impacted her day-to-day life.

Krista is an engineer and artist who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 42. Despite exhibiting signs of being on the spectrum throughout her life, Krista was repeatedly told by mental health professionals that she was just “a little strange” or had “anger issues.” It wasn’t until Krista began working with a therapist who suggested she may have Asperger’s syndrome that she started to understand the reasons behind her lifelong struggles.

During our conversation, Krista explains how she initially reacted with resistance to the idea of being autistic, as she had preconceived notions about what that meant. However, after taking time to reflect and work through the implications with her therapist, Krista came to see her autism as a “different operating system” – one that is highly specialized, but not always user-friendly. She likens it to running Linux rather than a more mainstream OS like Windows or Mac.

“I am a hyper 3D visualizer. I don’t have to close my eyes to see things in 3D. I can be looking at it out in front of myself. So when I’m working on a hyperbaric chamber, I can actually visualize it out in front of myself. I can turn it around. I can blow it apart. I can dive into it.”

Krista also shares some of her unique abilities that stem from her autism, such as her incredible 3D visualization skills. She can vividly see and manipulate 3D objects in her mind, which has made her a natural at CAD work and art. However, this gift also comes with challenges, as Krista often finds herself unable to vocalize her thoughts when in this highly focused, visual state.

I believe this episode is an important one for anyone who has experienced or knows someone with a “late in life” autism diagnosis. Krista’s openness and humor in discussing her journey resonated with me, and I think it will with those who have felt misunderstood or struggled to find the right language to describe their experience. Her perspective on autism as a different way of operating, rather than a disorder, provides a refreshing and empowering framework.

To learn more about Krista Kemper, visit her website at https://kempereng.com/. Thanks again, and I love that you are here to listen to Good Life Stories.

About Krista Kemper

I am a self-taught mechanical designer. I know the theories used in engineering, can do the equations and use the software, but I’m still not an engineer. I’m a technician. As president of an engineering company, my job is to wrangle engineers and keep them grounded.

Aside from that, I’m also a combat veteran (Army), mother, and artist. I worked in IT as a QA tech many moons ago, did a year at Cornish College of the Arts, and am on the autism spectrum, late life diagnosis. Born in upstate NY, raised between WA and MA, and now living in LA…the state, not the city. I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is to differentiate between dreams and goals. While they’re not mutually exclusive, they’re also not always one in the same. Another is that I’m not going to get to the fun part if I wait until I get over my fears. I spend a lot of time utterly terrified while I’m in the middle of doing things I’ve never done before. I’m never quite sure if I’m afraid of failure or success. My husband, Bart, and I often joke that it’s easy when things go horribly wrong, the problem is what to do if everything goes horribly *right*. That, and failure is an opportunity to learn. Data is data.

Last, My husband is also my principal engineer. I not only love him, I have a lot of respect for him. There are meme’s out there that call the relationship of Morticia and Gomez Addams “life goals” but I’m not sure most people really understands what that means, especially those who see Gomez as their version of prince charming. The enthusiasm Never Stops. Bart and I used to have issues because I thought I had to match his energy. That took a lot out of me. What I needed to do was simply be and allow him to worship me! LOL! Really though,  to get through the difficulties we were having, we actually sat down to discuss pop culture relationship models, modern archetypes, as something to model our own relationship on. For us, it was Gomez and Morticia, to include the weird old house, fencing, and explosives. And, with both of us being combat vets, dark humor is pretty much a staple in our lives.

About Tracy Crowley

Tracy Crowley has always been an entrepreneur. Whether it was making gowns for fellow Army wives, taking portraits in black and white, or working on her other businesses, she is always learning something new.

That passion for learning something new and giving something back collide nicely in this podcast.

Join Tracy for Good Life Stories, where simple curiosity brings out great stories, every single time.

Check out Tracy’s new book! https://tracycrowley.life/

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