So, a little introduction into me! I am Autistic 🌈 I’ve know this for quite some years. It’s not something I’ve always been ready and able to talk about, I think part of that is because I struggle to assert myself and open up. But I’m getting better at this so I want to take this opportunity to spread a little awareness. I’m going to start by talking about my journey to get a formal diagnosis.
So after many years, I have decided to pursue a formal diagnosis for my ASD. To do this I have to visit my GP who will refer me to the relevant professionals. This is what happened:
So I’m sat in the waiting room feeling immense anxiety. The room is loud, I feel nauseous, my hands are clammy, I’m fidgeting. I get up once to put my gum in the bin and go into the bathroom to rinse my hands under cold water. This is a sensory feedback thing for me, it’s soothing. Finally it’s my turn. I sit and gather my thoughts and say:
“For some time now …. I …. have felt I am … autistic … (pause to swallow the ginormous lump in my throat) … I would now like a diagnosis”
He asks me why I feel in autistic and I begin by talking about how things were for me as a child, I had intended on going in chronological order, he interrupted me mid sentence to say:
“I’ll just stop you there”
“What you’re describing is not how autism presents. You’re making eye contact with me *gestures to me* this is not Autism. This is likely to be due to your mental health difficulties and personality disorder…”
Yeah because it is literally impossible to have more than more disorder at the same time (sarcasm. It is very possible). The ignorance is strong in this one. Very disappointing.
And seriously, eye contact? Eye contact?! He can’t have met that many autistic people. I personally need to make eye contact at times, especially when talking to someone new, because I need to see their facial expressions, body language etc. All of these things help me understand what is being said much more effectively. It is worth noting that if I didn’t make eye contact, I wouldn’t have seen him smirking at me.
Also, a lot of autistic people mask in situations like this which enables them to make eye contact or conform to other social standards, where normally they would find it immensely painful. Unfortunately masking doesn’t necessarily mean they avoid that pain altogether. It just comes to them later.
Anyway long story short he did agree to write to the relevant people. I have since discussed my desire for a referral with my mental health team so, I’m just going to put that awful experience out of my mind. And wait! The list is so long sometimes you can’t even be referred to the waiting list. This makes me sad, so many people are going undiagnosed and living with no support.
I think some professionals fail to realise that if someone comes to them to ask for ASD referrals or support for their mental health struggles, they have not made the appointment on a whim. They didn’t wake up one morning and think “you know what! I’m ASD/PDA/BPD! *makes dr appointment*
Things like this are a very long journey of self discovery. It takes weeks, months sometimes years to finally make that appointment. Some poor souls don’t even make it that far without giving up completely. I realised I was autistic when I was 19. I’m now 25 and realising how much it really does impact my life. I now understand that I’ve been suffering with autistic meltdowns, not necessarily the “weird psychotic episodes” I previously thought. I have learnt that I have sensory overload, I mask pretty much all the time… and now I’m learning how to manage it. It’s a bloody nightmare managing it alongside the mental health disorders too, they seem to trigger each other. It gets so confusing. I’ll discuss my mental health in another post. That’s enough for now.
Thank you for reading.