There are very few specialist services, at least publicly-funded ones, for post-diagnostic support of autistic adults.
Meanwhile we hear figures of between 66 and 80% of diagnosed autistic people have mental health problems, and mental health services are rarely adapted or suitable for autistic people (how many MH professionals even pick up on autism and make a referral?).
What might support you or autistic people of any age to fulfil their potential and to avoid developing depression, anxiety and other mental health problems? What does good post-diagnostic support look like?
What would improve your quality of life if money were no object? What would you communicate to everyone about autism and your needs? Are there any skills that you would like someone to help you acquire? What would you be enabled to do? Design your own therapist or mentor if you like.
(Asking for a friend )
For me, it required a complete change of mind-set once I had my diagnosis. No longer was I the problem. Society and its institutions were the problem. Mental health services treated me like a malingerer. They told me to go away.
When I got the diagnosis, I looked at the 'support' available. Much of it was apparently geared towards 'changing' me to fit in better. By this time, I didn't want to fit in. Throughout my life, other people had been indifferent to me at best, hostile to me at worst. I didn't want to learn their language simply to be accepted by them as a refugee. I was okay. Other things needed to change to suit me.
That's why I'm 'out' about my autism with whoever I meet - employers, colleagues, acquaintances, family members. If they reject me because of it, then I don't need them in my life.
I realise this approach wouldn't work for everyone. But it's how I have to be, to survive. It's how I find out who's really on my side.
And if it's no one... then fair enough.
I'll just be me, anyway. As I've always been. But with much more confidence in who I am.
For me, I was absolutely shocked at the distinct lack of support post-diagnosis. And, what was available was wholly unsuitable. As you indicate, it was primarily designed for Allistics! Like Martian Tom, I found the vast majority of 'professional' approaches were actually designed to train me to be Neurotypical (never mind the disheartening value judgements they placed via repeated reference to how 'wrong' I was).
For me, you can forget Counsellors and therapies etc. For me, some sort of mentoring system would've been far more ideal. Ideally, this would be someone who has gone through some sort of formal training, but who happens to have Autism - so they have a very real shared world experience from which to mould their guidance. Even without formal training, I just think an adult Autistic - who is a few years ahead down the path, and is making a success of things - would be infinitely more valuable than most of the so-called professionals I've seen.
Immediately post-diagnosis, I wanted the instruction manual on 'how to be Autistic', which apparently no-one has thought to write (Martian Tom, I throw the gauntlet down!)! But, clear-cut, unambiguous strategies for better coping with life would've been very helpful. The problem with late-diagnosed adults is that you develop very crusty and faulty coping mechanisms, after years of trying to tackle life on your own. These have been utilised for very good and valid reason, but the problem is such self-created strategies usually become obstructive through repeated over-use, even when they've clearly passed their expiry.
The one thing I've not encountered since being diagnosed is another late-diagnosed autistic adult! I'd love to sit one down with a cup of coffee and just share experiences, compare notes, and see what they're doing better than I am.
Gauntlet accepted! I'm a little tied up with another writing project at the moment (a new blog about life on the margins), but it's on the burner...
It'll be less about 'how to be autistic', though, and more 'how I manage as an autistic'.
I have faith in your strategies MT. You detail 'em, and I may translate 'em into clear-cut 'rules' if that's okay?! ;-)
The only rule is...