I'm a 21 year old girl, currently studying at university. For some time, I've thought that I may have autism, and my mum agrees that I've shown autistic tendencies since early childhood. Some of my friends also agree that I display behaviours associated with autism - and my best friend, who was diagnosed with Aspergers as a child, told me that I am exactly like him. However, I've never had a diagnosis, because as a child my mum apparently decided I was fine as I was and did not need any support. I was wondering if anyone here was in a similar situation and if people had found a diagnosis to be useful to them, or if it is simply a label which is a pain to acquire and not much use afterwards.
In the interests of honesty, openness, balance and fairness...
... I'm one year post-diagnosis, and it was (so far) one of the worst things I've ever done. I suppose it was because autism wasn't even on my radar before, so suddenly going from 'Neurotypical' to 'disabled' was one helluva shock. That has meant a year of trying to manage the negative connotations and labels I had of autism prior to being diagnosed.
And, I was essentially diagnosed and then kicked out into the big bad world without any appropriate supports. Indeed, since finding out, I've been utterly shocked at a) how wholly lacking the medical profession is to deal with late-diagnosed adults, b) how superficial supports are within the workplace, and c) how even the most well-meant of intentions from non-autistics often falls cringe-worthingly short (they just don't get us).
It's been an educational yet difficult year. And looking back with hindsight, I think I would rather have not known. My confidence has taken a massive knock, and my vulnerability has increased - all the while whilst I'm meant to accept this new diagnosis, yet have no idea how to get my head around the complexity of it all.
Many people on this forum praise autism and how unique it makes them. They're better than me, and I'm honestly glad they've found a way to reconcile and thrive with autism. For me though, I still have no idea how that is done.
I don't say this to be overly negative or a nay-sayer. I just want you to go into this with realistic expectations that getting a diagnosis is not always a positive thing for some people. As such, I always advise caution. Once you've got that diagnosis, there's no going back.
My advice to answering your question would first be to ask - why do you want the diagnosis / just what do you hope to get from it?
You're admittedly younger, and modern universities likely have better resources to help support young autistic adults than typical traditional workplaces. Plus, you're already considering autism from a personal perspective - as well as having an autistic best friend. So, you've probably gotten more familiar and comfortable with it than I ever was. So there is a good chance you'll more easily turn this into a positive for yourself.
But, just tread carefully...
Evan said:suddenly going from 'Neurotypical' to 'disabled' was one helluva shock.
Which is a perfectly legitimate (and probably truthful) way of looking at it, Evan. I don't look at it that way, though. Yes... I've have struggles in my life that many people haven't had, and yes I still struggle. But I prefer to look at it as being because I'm 'differently-abled' instead of 'disabled'. Disability, as I've often said, is a social construct. Society is designed around the 'able' and the 'neurotypical.' So... society has to rethink itself. Yes, I know that's wishful thinking. But one thing that my diagnosis has helped me to do is to be able to express myself more now in my own behalf.
This is who I am, and what I can do - and also what I can't do. So, work around that and deal with it. Don't expect me to change to meet your requirements. I adapt as much as I can, anyway. Please acknowledge that. And please do some adapting in return.
That's how I am now.
Are you formally diagnosed Martian Tom? If so, how long ago was that?
I only ask, to see how far further ahead down the path you are. You never know, it may give me hope!
I think part of the challenge is that I do tend to be a negative perceiver overall. Plus, I do suffer with the black-and-white and rigidity of thinking so typical of Asperger's. So in my head, if I'm not 'normal' I must be 'abnormal', thus 'defective' or 'less than.'
I really do respect you guys for making it your own and turning autism into a positive force. My problem is that I just don't know the psychological mechanisms to change my thinking.
I agree with you entirely on the point about '(dis)ability' being a social product. Alas, that makes it no less insidious or tricky. For me, even though society creates the norms establishing 'normal', 'able' and 'desired' etc, the problem is that these remain very real constructs... which are daily (re)generated, used, disseminated and re-enforced by the overwhelming majority (i.e. Neurotypicals). So again, it re-enforces by self-belief as 'less than' or 'undesired' or 'defective'. If I stubbornly deny the majority mode of thought of the time / culture, then I may have to get a diagnosis for 'delusional' too!
I know this is all me... and my challenge would now - post diagnosis - seem to be to somehow magically transform decades or unchallenged and unassumed negative thinking.
Easier said than done methinks.
Yes. I got my diagnosis almost 3 years ago. Unequivocal. Adult Autistic Spectrum Condition (Asperger's). Except the 'Adult' seemed both superfluous and inaccurate. ASC is for life. I always had it. I always will have it. It doesn't just come on, like grey hair and varicose veins.
'Normal' is abnormal to me. It's as black and white as that!