It was pretty anticlimactic in the end… a letter in the post summarising the doctor’s observations and concluding with the words “I feel that a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, on the milder end of the spectrum, is justified”.
My Diagnosis Story
These are the original blog posts I wrote in 2016, the year I was assessed and diagnosed (I was 37). The first post was really a way of me talking to my wider family and friends about being autistic, so I wouldn’t have to spend that whole year ‘coming out’ to people and telling the same story over and over. And in the hope that people might understand me – and my reasons for getting assessed – better.
A note on language: I wrote these posts in 2016, when I was still uneducated about problematic language and functioning labels. I’ve chosen to republish these posts exactly as I first wrote them, unedited, and therefore you will notice that I use vocabulary I no longer choose to use, including ‘Asperger’s’ and ‘ASD’. I prefer the term ‘autism’ these days, and that is the term you’ll see in more recent posts. You may also spot some person-first language; these days I’m more likely to say ‘autistic person’ than ‘person with autism’.
It does feel slightly ridiculous. Though I did enjoy the moment when I told my wife about the school reports and she said, hilariously, “Was the fact that you still have all your school reports, and know where they are, part of the assessment?” (she may be onto something there).
Two conversations I had last weekend have made me wonder how my life might have been different had I been diagnosed with Asperger’s as a child. A good friend told me how much respect she had for the things I’ve achieved in my life, despite the challenges ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) brings; and my parents wanted to know how a diagnosis might help someone – child or adult – with ASD.
So what’s it like being assessed by a mental health team? A bit like being in one of my psychotherapy sessions, but with two counsellors instead of one. And they’re both complete strangers to me. Oh, and this time, it’s, like, a test…
According to all the reading I’ve done, it’s increasingly being recognised that the condition presents differently in females than in males, too (which probably partly explains why it took me so long to work out that I had it). So I’m going to start by telling you the bit I really know about: what Asperger’s means for me.
And there have been some who have challenged my decision to pursue a diagnosis. (I am still the same person; I’m a lovely person with lots of great qualities; we all have our differences, our quirks and eccentricities; what’s the use of labelling myself? It won’t change anything at this stage. And if I fail to get a diagnosis won’t I just feel even worse?)
So, this is it: I have Asperger’s. This may come as a great surprise to you, or it may be one of those “Oh, so that’s why… [insert weird/ill-mannered/inexplicable thing I once did/said here]” moments.