A lot of people suspect they are autistic but don’t know whether to go for the formal diagnosis or not. Many are happy to remain undiagnosed whereas others, like me, need validation.
Am I Really Autistic?
Chances are you know you’re autistic.
I knew as soon as my son was assessed four years ago..
I went home and read as many female Asperger books as I could and then did the full tears/snot thing because within those pages were women JUST LIKE ME!
My oddities take up four pieces of A4 paper but the bottom line for me was the feeling that has plagued me ALL my life and that’s the feeling of not belonging to this planet. We’re not on the same wavelength, the planet and me. More so, I don’t understand most of it’s human inhabitants..
The Benefits of Diagnosis
- It can help you and your family understand why you’re a weird sod.
- You may get access to benefits and support services.
- Your employer, should you choose to disclose, has to make reasonable adjustments.
- You can grow old and not worry about being forced to play bingo in Shady Pines oldies home.
- You can be part of a community that understands YOU.
How To Go About Getting A Diagnosis
The first step is to speak to your GP.
This didn’t happen with me because, well, I’m awkward.
I’d already made up my mind to go and see my GP to ask for a referral when my anxiety worsened considerably and getting myself better took priority over everything else. However, in July I ended up at A&E with a panic attack. The doctor (an angel in human form) suggested I saw the hospital psychiatrist who spoke to me for about an hour and the result was that she referred me for an autism assessment. It wasn’t the usual route to assessment but for me it was a case of right place, right time.
So, go see your GP.
- Only talk about the autism, not the boil on your bum.
- Take in some notes if it helps you.
- Tell them why you think you are autistic.
- Explain why a diagnosis would benefit you.
- Give brief examples of your struggles.
- Allow the mask to fall because this is one occasion where it’s beneficial to be yourself.
Do your homework before you go in and find out about your local services. Maybe phone up the National Autistic Society helpline and speak to an advisor or if, like me, you are a phone-phobe, you can ask somebody to do it on your behalf?
Some GPs don’t know autism from their armpit but don’t let that put you off. Go in there armed with your info and Guidance For GPs and bamboozle them with your knowledge. Don’t be fobbed off and if necessary see another GP.
When I had my assessment my anxiety was MASSIVE which was explained to the psychologist. Anxiety amplifies the communication and sensory issues and when I went back for the diagnosis I could barely speak and my eye contact was abysmal. I had to remind myself to look in the psychologist’s direction every now and then. Hopefully when I go back for my follow up appointment the anxiety will have subsided enough for me to engage and get something out of the session other than staring at the carpet..
You have to decide what benefits there are to being diagnosed and if that’s really what you want because once you have been officially diagnosed there’s no going back.
Since being diagnosed I feel as if a weight has been lifted off me. All those years of trying to find an explanation for my issues is at an end. For however long I have left I can be me knowing that I’m not as alone as I thought I was..
I am relieved to understand why I’m the way I am. I struggle and always will do but there are positive aspects to my autism, like how I experience the arts. I don’t just hear music, I feel it. I don’t just read a book, I become the character and those feelings stay with me long after the music has ended or I’ve turned/swiped the last page. There are two extremes to me with no in-between but then if there was an in-between, I probably wouldn’t be autistic.
I’m not fussed about terminology. I refer to myself as ‘autistic’ rather than having autism but it doesn’t really matter as either is a massive improvement on ‘weird fucker’ or other such things I’ve been called in my time. The important thing for me is that people understand autism itself.
It’s a human thing to want to belong and be accepted. In a perfect world all differences would not only be accepted but embraced. We’re a long way from that but with awareness things are getting better. Diagnosis isn’t right for everyone and it’s something that requires a LOT of thought so don’t rush into it.
Take as much time as you need.
I took four years.
Don’t let age stop you from going for a diagnosis. If a codger like me can get diagnosed at 46, anyone can. In fact, people in their 60s and 70s are being diagnosed.
It’s NEVER too late.
Thank you for reading.