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Woman in search of a ASD diagnosis.

Hi everyone! 

I'm new here as of today. I'd like to introduce myself and a bit about why I'm here and I'm interested in speaking to anyone who can offer me any advice or insight into the ASD condition and diagnosis process, especially from the perspective of a woman.

I'm now 28 years old, and a couple of years ago after researching a lot about ASD symptoms in women, I felt a lot of them rang true with me and experiences I have had in my life. By no means do I think I am a severe sufferer, but my life is definitely shaped by the difficulties experienced by members of the ASD community. I am certain of this.

I was so certain I took myself to a local autism group and met some members so I could speak to them about their experiences with autism. There was one guy there I could relate to. He worked as a graphic designer (same as me) and experienced similar difficulties as I had. However all the members of the group were male and were experiencing symptoms which were a lot more noticeable and severe than my own. I didn't feel like this was what I behaved like, and so I wasn't sure if this could be the condition I have.

After a long wait I eventually got to see a psychiatrist whose job it was to screen me for ASD symptoms before referring me to a specialist to take an official test. She was more interested in speaking to my Dad and asking him some questions about my developmental years. My Dad said I acted normal for a child, however I was very shy, which I still am today. From this account, she decided not to refer me to see an ASD specialist. I was so distraught when she told me this I couldn't actually move or say anything. I know I have this condition, but my behaviour is not as noticeable as a males, and I was not being allowed to even be tested for it because of this.

I had just quit my job as I was having real problems working in an open plan office, and the psychiatrist said I was suffering with an anxiety disorder, and so referred me to see an occupational therapist to help me deal with working environments. I saw the occupational therapist for a while but she had nothing helpful to offer me as I am able to work, but not in an open plan office surrounded by people. And that's nothing she could change.

The occupational therapist then referred me to group counselling to help me with expressing my emotions with groups of people, and I am now in the middle of this treatment.

The one thing the group counselling has shown me, is it same difficulties I have with relating with groups of people which are all ASD symptoms. I am back where I started two years ago believing my problems are caused by an autism disorder and I don't know where to go from here. I have considered going back to the GP and asking to see the psychiatrist again, but the experience was so stressful and I had to do it all on my own, that I am not keen to have to state my case all over again.

Have any women on this forum had an experience similar to this in their journey to diagnosis? I don't think I behave in an obviously autistic way at all. I think in fact I am very low down the spectrum if I do have ASD, but I have experienced break downs and had to quit jobs because of my symptoms, so I feel like I need to complete an official assessment in order to find out why I am like this. However I don't know how I can do that if I can't even get past the screening stage to see an ASD specialist.

If anyone has any advice or insight into how I can move forward, I would be really really grateful. Thanks