I'm new, go easy on me.
So yesterday I finally bit the bullet and went to the doctors to ask for a referral for a diagnosis. I've never felt normal, never felt I fitted in, always struggled around people. Somehow because I was academically good I got shoved down the office work route. Offices are my personal hell. With people everyday, small talk, being in sight and worst of all PHONES. Yesterday was a bad day for me there were a lot of people off because of the weather. This meant less people answering the phones which meant I was expected to answer a few. Cue me doing no actual work due to the debilitating fear of the phone ringing and me having to answer it. A few trips to the toilet to calm myself down and cry a little (but not too often because that would look weird). I logged on to my doctor’s website and booked an appointment for after work.
At the appointment I said that I wanted a referral. The lady seemed almost dismissive (“it’s not that simple”). She asked me why I thought I was autistic. I stuttered, choked and mumbled before handing her the 3 sheets of a4 I’d typed knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to speak. On the sheets I’d said that I want to get a diagnosis so that I would know I’m not just ‘weird’ that there’s a reason for me being like I am, so that I could tell my employers (by email obviously, probably on a day off) “this is why I struggle so much, can you put anything in place to help?”, so that I can maybe get support if there is any. That didn’t seem to be good enough for her. She said she’d write the referral letter as persuasive as she could but because I function (i.e. I’m married and hold down a job) that they wouldn’t see any clinical benefit in a diagnosis and would probably refuse to see me. My head was screaming “I barely function, every day is hell, I spend the days wanting to cry and the nights stressed about going back the next day and they won’t see me just because I haven’t given up yet?! So they’d rather wait until it gets too much for me to think about helping?!”. My mouth just let out an involuntary scoff at being told I function. Seriously, is there any wonder suicide rates are so high (NB I am not suicidal, I feel a bit wrong for mentioning that, sorry)?
Anyway. She’s sent the referral to the hospital mental health team. My question is, is that the right place to refer me to? Does anybody know how long it usually takes to hear from them?
Second question is, if they do refuse to see me as she thinks they will, what can I do about it?
You might want to have a look at the adult diagnosis page here on the NAS site - http://www.autism.org.uk/about/diagnosis/adults.aspx - which explains how the various stages of the diagnostic process work. If the mental health team reject your GP's referral, I'm not too sure what you can do other than try to obtain a private diagnosis (although you may still need an NHS diagnosis to access government services). If that does happen, you might want to talk to someone on the NAS Helpline who can advise you on where to go from there. The Helpline is on 0808 800 4104 (10am-4pm Mon-Thurs, 9am-3pm Fri).
As for how long it takes to hear, it's very difficult to tell I'm afraid as it varies depending on where in the country you are and what the waiting lists for services are like in your area.
Ross - mod
I mentioned my concerns re ASD to three psychiatrists (PDOC) and a GP, they all dismissed me so your experience, unfortunately, seems normal. I teach, run a profession network etc, which means I appear 'normal' if people only know me superficially. Despite their protest PDOC three gave me a screener questioner which I sent off to my county's autism team (they come under MH). A year late I had my assessment and received my diagnosis.
If you don't get anywhere with this GP it could be useful to contact your county's autism team directly to find out if you can self-refer.