People will often email me and ask if I can offer them any advice when going through the Autism diagnostic process.
Here are a few tips I can offer you all:
In the Austin, Texas area (a central metro area), when I called the local Autism Society five years ago, there were only four doctors who worked with ADULTS and would make an adult diagnosis – ONLY 4 in a MAJOR metro area.
If you are in a rural area, there may be nobody around for miles.
Wait times will vary greatly depending on if you live in a country with public health care or not. In America, private healthcare means costs are high, but waits are short. In the UK, services are available, but waitlists can be YEARS long.
Things may vary depending on where in the world you live, BUT in general, some things will be the same.
Mental health professionals are the ones who diagnose Autism. They are the gatekeepers, and many of them are not even Autistic.
It is imperative to find a doctor who has experience diagnosing adults and understands how we learn to compensate, mask, and hide our Autistic traits as we age.
Providers who only work with children may lack the foundational knowledge needed to assess adults.
There will likely be quizzes and assessments.
Because Autism is a lifelong difference, you will also need “evidence” you’ve always been Autistic.
The person doing the assessment will often want to interview people who knew you as a child.
I took in 10 pages of typed notes to my appointment and had lots of baby videos and childhood footage.
The “evidence” phase can hold people back if they are not as well documented as I was.
Prepare and gather all of your “evidence” – don’t worry if you need notes to keep yourself organized.
Organize yourself however you feel is most natural to you.
Don’t try to hide your struggles.
I know we can get used to putting on a strong face and trying to blend in, but this is a time for honesty and authenticity.
Hopefully, you will be seen and not mislabeled as something you’re not.
I feel my late discovery when I was diagnosed at 29 was a huge blessing and a privilege. It is not something that every Autistic person can easily access.
I’m grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained since learning this truth about myself, but so many Autistic People are still struggling and may never be formally discovered.
This is why I and many others support Autistic people who self-identify as Autistic – because not everyone has access to diagnosis.
Until that changes, who are we to exclude Autistic people from the community for being less privileged than the rest of us?
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With gratitude and appreciation,
– Lyric 🎧