ASD diagnosis story

‘Aspergers From The Inside’ featured a piece I wrote about my Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis here.

Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share my diagnosis story, Paul.
I love your work; I find immense value in what you do 

Coming out about Autism on Facebook

13 September 2016

As many of you are probably aware, I have spent most of my life dealing with a range of mental health issues. My experience with these have included seeing countless professionals, umpteen different medications and therapies, at times lifesaving hospitalizations and a course of ECT.
I am now in a place where I have learnt how to manage different symptoms that present, the occurrence of which has drastically, dramatically lessened in frequency and extremity as I have gained knowledge, tools and skills. While the 10 or so different diagnoses I’ve received over the years have indeed been valid and descriptive of what I was experiencing at the time, I always felt that there was more to it. More than being mostly introverted. More than being anxious. More than being highly sensitive.
This led me to start researching different things and earlier last year I started looking into a particular condition comprehensively. I’ve been through a lengthy assessment process with two different professionals since late last year and in August of 2016 emerged with the formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, formally known as Asperger Syndrome.
When I initially suspected that this neurological difference may be the case in March of 2015, I was quite shocked. I thought I knew a lot about ASD, (it’d always been an area of interest for me) but the more I read about it and in particular heard other people’s detailed subjective experiences, the more it started not only to fit, but feel oh so familiar. It provides an explanation for so many of the things I’ve never really understood about myself, some of the things I experience in life and areas where I struggle.
One of the reasons it was never picked up until now is because of the way it presents and manifests in females; generally we do a bit better socially and it seems to be more common in males. Often girls and women on the spectrum are diagnosed later in life (sometimes after having a child that they discover is on the spectrum), misdiagnosed as having different mental illnesses (although there are definitely comorbidities in both sexes) or remain undiagnosed altogether.
Receiving this diagnosis has provided me with immense relief and a reason WHY (one of my favourite things!); an answer, the missing piece to my puzzle that I could never quite find in other areas of my search over the years. It’s also allowed me to give myself permission to accept, understand and forgive myself for a lot of things that have happened in my life as a direct result of ASD and my inability to cope effectively with certain things.

I ran a rough draft of this through a couple of close people in my life to see what they thought and a couple of things stood out to them. The first question I was asked is: what am I going do with this information now that I know I’m autistic/how is it going to change my life? The simple answer at this point in time is that I don’t really know. I’m still processing what it means to me and the effect it has on my everyday life. I’ve been taking the time to figure out how to move forward with this in mind. I have spent a lot of time over the years feeling stuck, feeling unsure of what the next step to take is, unsure of what to do with myself and this is no different. I get overwhelmed by possibility, choice and options. Paralysis by analysis. It’s not as bad as it used to be but it still pops up at times.
The next question I was asked is: why do I want to share this and what do I hope to achieve? There are a couple of answers to that. One reason I am posting this status and coming out about this so openly and publicly is to share this piece of information about me with the hope of providing the people in my life an explanation for some of my behaviours and intrinsic ways of being. Another is with the hope of raising awareness of ASD and subsequent mental health issues/challenges.
If you have gone through life feeling as though you are different, have had trouble feeling like you belong, experience life through different lenses and struggle with some things most people seem to have no problem with, I would love to have a discussion / provide further resources. Most people seem to have an idea of what ASD entails but if you envision a small boy obsessed with his train set, well, I’m happy to dispel any myths 

If you have any questions or comments I would be interested in being of service where I can/answering questions or hearing any comments, positive or negative.
A massive thanks to my parents, Helen, Graeme and my best friends, Annie and Amber. Thank you all for putting up with my (sometimes incessant) perseveration on this topic, indulging me while I send you much information and taking the time to complete quizzes for comparison. Your unconditional love and support has helped get me through those many dark times and helped make me the person I am today.
I also wanted to extend a huge wave of gratitude to two other autistic females that I have contact with mainly online, Vanessa and Lena. Your wisdom, experience and insights have been priceless.

Thank you for taking the time to read this if you did  

My Facebook profile

My favourite (mostly female) ASD resources

Websites/blogs/articles:

Female ASD Traits – Tony Attwood

Female ASD Traits – Rudy Simone

Female ASD traits – Tania A. Marshall

10 Ways I Can Spot An Aspie Girl – Samantha Craft

Bipolar or Aspergers? – Samantha Craft

Non-Official Checklist – Samantha Craft

Ten Traits – Samantha Craft

Myths About Female ASD – Samantha Craft

The Pattern of Abilities and Development of Girls with Asperger’s Syndrome – Tony Attwood

The Borderline of Aspergers, Similarities and Differences – Hannah Belcher

The Borderline of Aspergers revisited – Hannah Belcher

Aspergers in Women – Life On The Spectrum

Think You Might Have Aspergers Syndrome? – Life On The Spectrum

The Triad of Impairments – Life On The Spectrum

Realistic Symptoms – Life On The Spectrum

Essential Reading – Cynthia Kim

Aspergers From The Inside – Paul Micallef

Books:

The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome – Tony Attwood

Aspergirls – Rudy Simone

Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate – Cynthia Kim

I Think I Might Be Autistic – Cynthia Kim

Pretending to be Normal – Liane Holliday Willey

Safety Skills for Asperger Women – Liane Holliday Willey

Everyday Aspergers – Samantha Craft

Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome – Luke Jackson

Sex, Drugs Asperger’s Syndrome – Luke Jackson

NeuroTribes – Steve Silberman

Quizzes:

The Aspie Quiz

Autism Quotient

Empathy Quotient

Empathising-Systemising Test

RAADS-R

ADHD
ADHD is different in women

Dyslexia About
Dyslexia Test

Dyspraxia

Executive Dysfunction

Things to do when depressed to feel better

– walk
– don’t isolate
– have something to look forward to
– gratitude
– work on Happy Journal
– deliberately go and make happy memories
– drink tea
– hot showers
– drink water
– take meds on time
– don’t sleep all day
– do something nice for somebody else
– tick boxes – achieve small things
– watch funny movies / TV shows
– laugh
– eat colorful food
– breathe deeply
– shower and get dressed
– browse ASOS and Etsy
– yoga
– learn something new
– call Annie
– disengage from technology
– do some form of exercise
– wake up early
– meditate
– look at pictures of cats
– stay hydrated
– have a bath
– listen to happy music and dance
– read Happy Journal

 

 

 

 

 

© Maggie O’Connor 2015