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Autism and I

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Last week Inwas diagnosed with having an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I’m 32, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that mental health/soecial education professionals started to ask me if I had vere been diagnosed with ASD. I used to tell them that no, but I have a few other letter combinations, like RAD and PTSD. That usually was satisfactory, till just a few weeks ago.

“When were you diagnosed with RAD?” A particular clinical psychologist asked me. I told her. She shook her head. “That doesn’t fit the diagnostic criteria of RAD. I’d like to have you evaluated for Autism.” I went along with it, and last week the diagnosis was handed to me: I’m a high functioning Autistic, and while my diagnosis doesn’t state it as such, the psychiatrist discussing my results with me said, “These results are consistent with Asperger’s syndrome.” He also said that while my RAD diagnosis happened too late in life (over the age of five) to be sure it was RAD and some of my behaviours were never consistent with RAD, he doesn’t rule it out or wants to substitute one diagnosis with the other.

In making the diagnosis it was essential that for the first time ever someone who was there for my early childhood could actually answer questions and provide history. My father’s participation was essential in the process. In earlier cases either only my adoptive parents were there or no parent figure at all. Getting an anamnesis, establishing that certain behaviours appeared at certain times had not been possible. We found out that despite my difficult beginnings and separation from my parents, I developed pretty normally till I was about 20 months old.

At this point I’d like to point out that the MMR vaccine was not part of the immunization schedule in Ireland till I was about six, and I didn’t receive an MMR vaccine till I was a pre-teen. So yeah, colleration of two things still doesn’t mean a cause and effect relationship.

So what does this diagnosis mean for me? Not much. It does answer some questions I’ve had about myself. It does explain why it’s so hard to deal with change (though I can handle change, and I can be pro-active in bringing about change, but reacting to unplanned change causes discomfort). It brings the dyspraxia and the sensory issues together. It explains things. However it won’t really change my life or me. Yes, there are some services I might be eligible for, and one of those is something that I can see being useful if I ever retu rn to university. I will not refer to myself as a person with Autism (actually not the preferred term for the ASD community), or an Autistic person, and especially not as an Aspie. I won’t start wearing colourful jigsaw puzzle pieces or start advocating for Autism organizations that I haven’t been advocating for. I probably will not remember to observe Autism Day either. I won’t be joining ASD groups on Facebook or seek out blogs on the topic (though there are a few blogs I already read that addresses the topic). My identity is not of an Autistic person, even though my newly diagnosed ASD has been part of who I am, without the label. Of course it does explain my Harel Skaat obsession. 🙂

 

This is my experience. Being high finctioning enough that it took 30 years for a diagnosis is probably the reason why I, at this point, do not refer to myself as Autistic as my primary identity. Of course there are people who consider ASD a big part of their identities, and that is completel fine. My own experience is just that: mine. I don’t claim to know what other people with the same diagnosis experience, just as they don’t know my experience. My point is: I am still me, the difficult, the funny, the somewhat rigid, the occasionally smart, the often annoying Hevel.

10 Responses to “Autism and I”

  1. michelle says:

    Thank you for posting this. You are still you and does give answers for you . I think you rare brave and strong to take this step!. I have been living with ASD in my life for 12 years , lol

  2. Nora says:

    It’s good to have answers and to know a bit more about yourself. You are never annoying btw. You are delightful.

  3. Jon says:

    I like that you aren’t going to let this define you. 🙂
    Smart? Yes. Funny? Yes. Difficult? Nah. Annoying? Nope. Rigid? Okay, maybe a little. lol…….
    Hugs, Jon

  4. anniekitching says:

    RAD, which really does focus on attachment, really doesn’t seem much like you, to me. However, the impact of early trauma is something else again. Developmental Trauma Disorder is the diagnosis that most specialists in the area would like to see used, because it is much more helpful and accurate than “RAD”. That is partly because there are many issues that can come from early trauma, even though a child has learned to attach. Clearly you can attach.

    If I were you I’d see a specialist in DTD. One amazing child psychologist who has specialized in some of these issues is Dan Siegel. You’d love his work, I think. I just had the pleasure of hearing Robin Karr-Morse speak. She wrote “Ghosts From the Nursery”, and most recently another book on how Developmental Trauma impacts adult physical and mental health. Here’s a link to a youtube video of her being interviewed on this. I didn’t watch it all, so my fingers are crossed they weren’t dopey interviewers, because she is SO interesting, and I think would probably understand your situation better than whomever you saw (just my guess.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8AcKIWsPdw

    • DTD is a very reasonable idea when it comes to me, however, so is RAD. I first landed in therapy because of my inability to attach to my adoptive parents, and I have to confess that attachment and bonding is not only difficult, sometimes it’s impossible. I have some children who I’m not really bonded to. We have a good relationship, because there is love, and I take care of them and strive to be the best parent to them that I can be, but the bonding is not there… and at least one of them lacks attachment to me, however, the attachment is there with Kevin, so things are okay and work.

      Trauma is such a mess.

  5. Jill says:

    I have a relative that most likely has asperger’s, but since they have functioned so well in their life – married with two kids – and they don’t seem to notice the quirks that we have seen, it doesn’t seem wise to even discuss an evaluation. And, like you stated, it wouldn’t change anything for them – just like it won’t for you. 🙂

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