I’ve had multiple people ask me about my diagnosis: how I got it, what it involved and how long it took. This blog post is going to attempt to explain everything!
I was officially diagnosed early 2017, I can’t quite remember when, but I remember being told “you scored high enough for a formal diagnosis of autism” to which I broke out into tears. I was so overwhelmed, so happy and so relieved. I had gone years without an explanation for why I felt so weird and disconnected, and suddenly it all made sense. I felt complete.
At age 17 I knew, I felt it. I felt different, lost and alone. I was misunderstood. My mother (who worked with autistic children) told me I was “ticking all the boxes” and suggested we explore a diagnosis. The first time I was knocked back because I had friends, second time funding was refused. Third time lucky I was referred for an initial assessment.
My first appointment was on 3rd June 2016, and I was diagnosed early 2017, so it can be a long process, but one that was worth the wait. The initial assessment was about my background history, my childhood mostly, which I don’t really remember, luckily my mum was with me to fill in the blanks. We spoke about my school experiences, my nail brush and my little pony collections and my obsessions with sculptures, alongside my relationships and friendships. This lasted about an hour. I left my appointment feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
My second appointment was my official ADOS assessment. This was it. I had to complete several tasks, including: role playing how to brush my teeth, making up a story using inanimate objects and completing puzzles. Afterwards I was told I had poor eye contact, I fidgeted a lot and my voice was monotonous – I was nervous.
It was about 4 months later I had my “call back” meeting in which the mental health practitioner went through my assessment report. Detailing all my deficits and impairments, concluding with my scores and a final statement “you have autism“. My heart sank, but I felt so much relief.
I’ll be honest, it’s quite a lengthy process, but it’s split up into chunks, making it less scary.
If you think you may be autistic this is what I recommend (although I can’t promise this is for everyone, and I can’t guarantee a diagnosis for you):
- Look online – do some background reading – look specifically at autistic traits. Do you relate/identify with them?
- Provide examples – they will ask for background history, give as many examples as you can, and look at them from the ‘worst day’ perspective.
- Collate your evidence and go to your GP, tell them you think you may be autistic. If they disagree get a second opinion, or you can go private, but that can be quite costly.
The diagnosis process can be overwhelming, and I’ll be honest, not every gets a diagnosis. But if you think you may be autistic then I’d definitely explore it!