This is my first time here so apologies if I do this wrong.
I'm mid 40s and have always suffered from anxiety/depression and am now seeing similarities between symptoms of autism and myself. Is the only way of getting a diagnosis through your GP? I'm quite paranoid and I think my GP thinks I'm a hypochondriac so I hate the thought of having to go to her, I'm sure she'll just think I'm attention seeking or making it up.
Asking to be referred for an assessment through your GP is the usual route. You're doing the right thing by doing your research first, in my opinion. As you suggest, GPs aren't usually very clued up about autism, and my experience is that if you have presented with anxiety/depression in the past, they will often struggle to see beyond that.
I was only diagnosed two years ago, when I was 45, and prior to that had been referred for mental health treatment half a dozen times over 30 years. Aside from two counsellors who suggested a generic psychological assessment (neither of which happened), no-one ever scratched below the surface enough to notice that I had an underlying condition, and autism was certainly never mentioned. I was surprised at my assessment to find that I wasn't the "borderline case" that I expected, my autism was easy for the assessor to spot, despite it being invisible to anyone previously (that I knew of, anyway.)
The more you can find out about what typically autistic traits you may have, the better your chance of convincing the doctor. In particular, the autism test questionnaires that you can find here are not just internet pop psychology. They are used as formal screening tools by most autism assessment teams, and even in that situation are self-reported without any prompting. So I suggest that you take those tests, take the results with you to the doctor, and be clear with the doctor that they are clinically proven for initial screening. Hanging about on forums like this one will also help you to be clear whether and why you suspect autism. Even two years after assessment, I still have several "aha" moments every week from communication with other autistic people - it's amazing how many things that you've taken for granted for decades can take on a whole new light.
If you are having trouble getting the GP to see this, there may be an alternative way, however. If you struggle with anxiety and depression, it is perfectly reasonable to ask for a referral to a counsellor or your local mental health team. When I finally got referred for assessment, it was because I had been referred for counselling again, and it was the mental health team worker responsible for assigning a counsellor to my case who suggested autism as an explanation for me being such a "repeat customer". She had a reasonable understanding of the condition, and was convinced enough to write to my GP to push for an assessment. This might be worth a try if your GP is reluctant.
Thank you so much for your response. I'l keep reading up on here first before I make any other move so I can at least be confident that I know what I'm talking about!
I'm worried I'm just clutching at straws. I had an abusive childhood but have no memory of what happened. This had led to 3 therapists bring unable to help as I couldn't bring up many specific incidents. I don't know if I've blocked it out purposely or it's just my awful memory. All that leaves me with is my being "odd".
I avoid people, I don't like being touched, I don't like people standing too close. I cant go out and weed the garden because I don' like people looking at me, I even got stones put down so I didn' have to mow the lawn. I can' look people in the eye for any length of time. And I have no mental filter so I say things no one else would and never know what exactly to say or do. It' all so embarrassing.
So maybe I'm just desperate for someone to say "THIS is what you have" so I don't just feel odd. But I don't want to waste anyone's time or reinforce the opinion that I AM just a hypochondriac.
Sorry for the rant!
I was diagnosed in my early forties - I am now 56. The process I adopted was to see my GP in 2002, explaining to him that I was still experiencing the difficulties from my late teens and early twenties (in the early 1980's) that had resulted in my being referred back then to a clinical psychologist. I suspected Aspergers, but did not wish to discuss this suspicion with my GP. He willingly referred me to a clinical psychologist who, at the first appointment, quickly spotted that I was almost certainly on the autistic spectrum, solely on the answer I gave to a specific question, and also how I answered it. I cannot remember now, 13 years later, what the question was. She referred me onwards to the adult autism team for a formal diagnosis., which took a while, but I got there in the end. I am now, having dealt with my diagnosis largely by overwork to the extent that I became unwell, taking ownership of my autism, increasing my own self awareness and also the awareness of those around me.