Will the Real Me Please Stand Up

Decades under the radar of female autism

Last November, two months after I turned 68, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Before the naming was changed in the DSM last year it would have been Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism. I don’t mind what it’s called, I don’t mind having another label to join the others, the main thing is that I have a diagnosis that is helping me begin to make sense of my life. I certainly don’t care about the possible trappings of the label. Having been in the mental health system for an awful lot of the time since I was 18, I’ve got used to it.

Characteristically the thought that I might be neuro-diverse came from a book I’d bought on Dyspraxia. I’d been diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction at 50 and as my difficulties with balance increased I decided to research dyspraxia. I found that my symptoms of SID and those of dyspraxia were identical. Was it an alternate name for the same condition? What I then found was that those symptoms overlapped with ND conditions on the Venn Diagram at the back of the book.

A visit to my GP, and a referral to the newly set-up Autism Service led to an assessment. My ‘scores on the doors’ indicated that I was incontrovertibly on the spectrum. In fact, despite being ‘high-functioning’, I was quite seriously affected. Since the diagnosis of ASD I’ve read countless articles and watched numerous videos to help me get a handle on it. That has been amazing. More specifically it’s opened my mind to how ASD has affected me, mostly negatively, throughout my life; I now have the potential to turn that around.

Watching people who describe their day-to-day experiences is awesome. They are awesome. And I can’t shout my thanks loud enough to the professionals who’ve given me insights into what’s been going on in my life, from the Clinical Psychologist who diagnosed me to the Doctors and Professors I’ve watched on the internet.