I Googled “Asperger’s tests" and came upon the Aspie Quiz. My score was way above the cutoff for Asperger’s. I took it again, answering more conservatively. Still above the cutoff.
I sat there at my desk for long minutes. Could it be possible that I’ve been autistic all my life and not known it? That’s a stunning realization–one that would require me to reframe everything I thought I knew about myself and everything I’d assumed I knew about autism. (I Think I Might Be Autistic)
When I spoke with my Aspergian colleague, Philip Wylie, a couple of weeks ago, he shared that getting an Aspergers diagnosis was akin to experiencing a nuclear bomb detonating in his life: it was a somewhat traumatic experience!
Since everyone’s different, discovering you’re autistic can set set off a whole range of feelings, from joy and relief to grief and despair.
Everyone (parents, spouses, professionals, and autistic men and women) needs to have a balanced perspective on what it’s like to receive an autism diagnosis as an adult.
Because a balanced view of learning about autism will help you better cope with the myriad of emotions following the diagnosis.
In this article, I’m some ideas to help you or your loved ones best cope with the stress, both positive and negative, of being diagnosed later in life with autism.
Learn About the Pros and Cons of Getting An Aspergers/Autism Diagnosis (via Philip Wylie)
Philip Wylie, who I interviewed for the podcast episode called a Very Late Adult Aspergers Diagnosis, graciously allowed me to share his notes about the pros and cons of getting an Aspergers diagnosis later in life.
Pros Of Getting An Aspergers Autism Diagnosis
It helped strip away his illusions of society: this is not a kind world, in his experience. Here’s what Philip had to say on this point: “I simply didn’t know that most people either hate or look down on autistic people. And now in UK the government is blaming disabled / benefits claimants for the country’s problems.”
It gave him information to protect himself from bullies and abusers. Again, per Philip, “It is a fact that autistic people are targetted by bullies and abusers, so when I was diagnosed I was a ‘sitting duck’ and manipulated by many people. Self-identification enables us to be more cautious and not give people the benefit of doubt until they have proved themselves to be proper friend.”
There is hardly any empathy towards autistic people from society because we are different and our value to society is not accepted yet.
The diagnosis is based on the medical model of autism which is deficit-based and does not differentiate between autism and mental illness, which is caused by adverse environmental factors (including bullying and other forms of prejudice)
The cost of diagnosis
Risk – the diagnosis is often based on subjective evaluation of behavior.
Seek Out Post-Diagnostic Support
Support can take many forms.
Here are my thoughts on some sources of support:
Find a therapist specializing in autism.
Read about the experience of other autistic bloggers.
Understanding these stages may help you to grieve the loss of who you thought you were, and to embrace the possibilities of who you are.
You may go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and not in a linear fashion.Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings after your diagnosis, and write about them or share them with a professional, or online, or with a friend.
Align yourself with an organization that will help you have a voice.
Then there are days when being autistic recedes into the background, not because I’m less autistic, but because I’m more comfortably autistic. Little by little, I feel myself healing old wounds, integrating the shiny new realizations, and becoming more myself.
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