Backstory: I've known I have Aspergers since I was a teenager. I'm now 28. Early self "diagnosis" and a deep introspection of my flaws and how they relate to classic aspergers symptoms. Since then, two doctors and one therapist have suggest in passing, that it was very likely i have aspergers or some form of "mild" autism, due to my mannerism, behaviour, triggers, etc. I've also had multiple friends who have been close enough to talk to me about it, ask me if I was.
I've never been officially diagnosed, because in my mind, what difference does it make. I'm certain of who I am, and I function for the most part, very well apart from in certain social circumstances or with some relationships, and what is getting an official diagnosis going to change about either of those things. I work through what I have to deal with and who I am and that's that. At this point I wear it on my sleeve pretty openly and i'm not shy about discussing it if people want to.
What I'm wondering though, is what effect would an actual official diagnosis have on my life? If I sat down with a doctor and...Presumably, took some tests? And ended up with that showing on my medical record.
Would it have any disadvantages? Being precluded from certain occupations in future because of it? Or anything where people with mental health issues may have to declare those? Would it possibly affect any future health care, insurance, etc?
On the flip side, would it have any advantages? Without being crass, would it help to give me a "safety net" in certain situations, professional for example, where I could lean on an official diagnosis to excuse something or rather, help put my behaviour into context? Would I qualify for any kind of social help, free bus pass, etc, anything like that? Could it help me should i (god forbid) have any legal troubles in future? If I'm going to have this...whatever you would call it. Condition. I might as well benefit from any help I can receive as a side effect of that.
I have a full time job with a salary that pays well, and a decent career path, and just recently I've been thinking about it more and more. I happily tell people that I am, I KNOW that I am, but what if somebody ever calls me out and wants "proof". What if they say "have you been officially diagnosed. is it on your medical record?", i'm not going to lie about that. Perhaps people will think I'm just attention seeking or self diagnosing to excuse poor social skills?
Give me your thoughts. I already understand who I am and the issues I face and I know what the medical term is for it, but would that being on my medical records, really have any actual real world effect, above and beyond me just saying that I am.
About twenty years ago I read a newspaper article about people who have something called synaesthesia. This was a revelation to me, I have always been able to see music and most sounds as colours and shapes. As a child I had learnt to keep quiet about it, but it was good to know that I wasn’t alone.
Ten years after reading the article I googled synaesthesia and came across some people who are both synesthetes and autistic. After a lot of reading, I realised that I was probably on the spectrum. I didn’t do anything about my discovery as I only go to places like a doctor surgery unless I absolutely have to. I also wondered what difference a diagnosis would make.
A further ten years on I found myself being pulled out my car - in a remote rural car park-
by two police officers. The car had been slowly filling with exhaust fumes. The police said that luckily for me it was a quiet night for them, so they had decided to check the countryside car parks. I was taken the local A&E.
At the hospital I had my first contact with mental health services. I was informed that I would have to spend some time in a mental health hospital. If I did not agree to this I would be sectioned. Unfortunately the local hospital was full and I was taken to a hospital 2 hours away from home.
At the mental health hospital a therapist went through the ASQ with me, and told me I scored quite highly. I then had a number of sessions with a psychiatrist who informed me that I am indeed autistic. After 25 days I was discharged. At a subsquent meeting with my local health team psychiatrist, the diagnosis was confirmed.
I am telling you this because I think that if I had gone for a diagnosis earlier, when I first thought I was probably on the spectrum, I could have saved myself, my family and friends a lot of heartache. I would have been able to contact someone and got the help I needed.
Everyone is different and I am not saying this is what will happen if you don’t get a diagnosis. When I was your age I would have never considered myself to be in danger of self harm (I am 61). However, I do feel that that the long, slow accretion of impairment due to the effort of masking and the discomfiture at social occasions, led me to the edge.