Diagnosis worries.

Hello all. 

I'm a 27 yo male and as the title implies; I am not diagnosed, however I think that ASD describes almost perfectly the difficulties I have been facing for my entire life. I've had somewhat of a turbulent life, and for the most part I've put the difficulties I have faced down to that fact. However certain things that I have picked up about autism along the way have niggled at me, in that I have felt that these things perfectly describe the ways that I feel, think, act and... the way I just am. It's not until recently that I have put the picture together that leads me to believe I suffer from ASD.

I have a history of mental health in my family, but it wasn't discussed until I have essentially brought it into discussion because of my lack of ability to cope day to day. I knew that my mum suffered (and still suffers) like I do, but we'd never discussed it. It was the proverbial elephant in the room. Recently we have been talking more about it and I have found out a lot that I didn't know about her and my grandfather. Upon starting the discussion, we found out that we had essentially came round to the same conclusion about ourselves in isolation. As well as that she revealed to me that my grandfather had actually been institutionalised before she was born (born in 67) and that he is aware through my mum, my uncle and my cousin (who has a diagnosis of being on the spectrum) that he has passed it on, though he doesn't discuss it beyond that and I have no idea if he has a diagnosis, or whatever because of that fact.

We decided that a diagnosis would be of benefit to me because of the severity of my problems and how that has hindered me in all aspects of my life. It's been impossible to keep steady employment and relationships and I find myself becoming more and more reclusive and anxious. My anxiety is almost crippling at times, and over the past few years I've barely been able to take care of myself, and have lost a lot of weight. My relationship with my partner and my child was strained and I found myself at my lowest. 

I've managed to pull myself out of that to a degree and have reinforced my relationship with my partner, however I still find myself slipping and employment remains a real problem. The last job I had I came into so anxious that I snapped at what I perceived to be negative criticisms and couldn't shake intense feelings of paranoia. Coupled with my poor social skills, it was a recipe for disaster and it culminated in me being sacked and nearly returning to the darkest place that I was in before. 

I've just noticed I have typed way more than I intended, but the gist of it is that I am seeking diagnosis on the basis that I will hopefully get the help I need to be able to cope and to be there for my family, and to understand why I am the way that I am. This is what I feel is right, but I am fearful of the whole process. 

I think I'm at the point that I could accept confirmation of being on the spectrum, but I am worried about the process and how I will be interpreted by the people I will be talking to. My mum has agreed to come along with me for support and to help me explain, but I haven't had the best experiences with having to lay things out in a way that will correctly convey my thoughts, feelings etc...

I was wondering if anyone has any advice on what they went through seeking a diagnosis, how it affected them hearing the confirmation, how do I ensure that I can properly convey my message and if the diagnosis, and how getting a diagnosis helped/what that then means for what help is available (NOT PILLS).

Thank you and sorry for my dragged out question. 

Regards. A.

  • Hi A.,

    I'm a clinical psychologist specialising in autism, but I am in Australia so not able to help you face-to-face (unless you count Skype).  

    I can assure you that many of the adults I have diagnosed with autism have found that it was a relief to have their concerns taken seriously, and to find someone who can discuss their strengths as well as areas where they need some support.  It's important for you to know that having autism doesn't mean that you are somehow broken or unwell or crazy.  It just means your brain is wired a bit differently to others, so there are some things you are great at, and other things you might need help with.  No one is great at everything.  We all need help with some things.  Knowing what you need help with and where to get that help, from people who understand how you think, can be empowering for you.  You can also look at using those strengths that you have and following your passions in a healthy way so you can get the most out of your life.  

    Also be assured that there is no medication for the core symptoms of autism.  Yes, some people with autism take medication for their anxiety, or ADHD or depression, or to help with sleeping, but there are no medications that address difficulties with social communication.  There are some medications that can be used for people who have a lot of aggressive behaviours, and are harming themselves and others, but generally these medications are the last resort, not the first thing we try.  

    Many of my adult clients find it helpful to do social trouble-shooting, discussing the pitfalls in common social situations, what others may be thinking, how to avoid misunderstandings, how to make eye contact (or look like you are), how to ask about others' interests and decipher your own and others' emotional states.  We talk about strategies for coping in the workplace, or when studying or in relationships with partners, family and friends.  

    We also discuss dealing with sensory sensitivities and need for sameness and routine, looking at ways to get your needs met without impacting adversely on others you might be living with.  

    Of course there are a whole range of issues that come up in counselling (and couples counselling) as everyone is different, but this might give you an idea of what a psychologist with expertise in autism can offer you.  

    I'm sure others within this community can point you in the direction of someone locally who can help you with deciding whether autism is the diagnosis that explains things best for you.  I can recommend Maxine Aston, who has a lot of experience in working with adults on the autism spectrum and offers diagnostic assessments: [removed by moderator]

    Best wishes in your journey,



    Clinical Psychologist

    Autism Understanding

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