Am I or aren’t I?

I waited a long time for my autistic assessment.

Here’s a link to find out more if you’re in the UK autism diagnosis for adults

If you’ve been reading about adult autism/ Aspergers experiences from other women, you’ll have a fair idea about what the diagnosis criteria are and reasons for seeking diagnosis.

I wrote a bit about the circumstances leading to my referral for autism assessment in my first blog which can be read here.

My reasons for wanting to seek diagnosis are linked to life-long social awkwardness and communication difficulties. Feeling like I don’t “fit in” anywhere, using endless research from books, films and later, online searches my whole life to work out – or try to understand – the complexities of relationships.

I keep diaries and write notes to myself to try to make sense of what has been said and what I have experienced in attempts to avoid, change or simply understand baffling behaviours.

Reading other women’s experiences of adult autism diagnosis, was the first time I felt like the “puzzle” of my life made sense.

So, back to diagnosis – I was NOT given an autism spectrum diagnosis this month. The assessment focussed on the classic aspects of autism which you can find a bit about here.

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One aspect for not receiving a diagnosis was my lack of childhood background information which can evidence pervasive difficulties. It was decided that many of my own difficulties fell into the category of “communication”.

I’m being referred for help with severe social anxiety now. My childhood experiences will be discussed in depth and I hope the roots of my anxiety will be identified.

By the way, social anxiety can become a secondary (co-morbid) mental health condition for autistic individuals – and I look forward to sharing any help or inspiration I pick up along the way!

I’m still being treated for anxiety and depression. In the UK A mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on your normal day-to-day activity. This is defined under the Equality Act 2010 which can be read here.

But still, do I think I’m autistic? Do I think I’m on the autistic spectrum? Yes I do, but I’m  an adult woman who has had the rare good fortune of being supported/ practising a powerful life affirming buddhist philosophy with Soka Gakkai.

I knew way before the assessment that I don’t fit a classic, “male autism diagnosis”.

Seeking acknowledgement of lifelong difficulties has been a first step for me. It’s a massive step at life improvement!

Here’s how I weigh up the benefits of seeking diagnosis and help:

There’s a big difference in the time it takes for a scratch to heal and that required to recover from a serious internal disease. Some illnesses can be treated with medication, while others require surgery. If you’re born, lets say, with a brain that does not support eyesight – you’ll go through life experiencing everything differently to those who are not blind, it will impact every aspect of your communication.

Pervasive differences are neurological differences. Being left-handed is an accepted neurological difference these days and affects around 10% of world population. As is dyslexia.

Illness is a part of life. Suffering is part of life. Being able to overcome suffering, taking action to relieve suffering and then transforming the poison of suffering into medicine to help others is one of the joys of life.

Am I or aren’t I? Do I have an illness or a disability? Severe social anxiety or an autism spectrum disorder? Seeking help and diagnosis is new to me. It gives me a powerful sense of hope, it is moving my life in a positive, beneficial direction. Being able to access help is my good fortune and I feel grateful.

Have a special day,

Jo

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