Are you an older person who has always wondered why you’re a little ‘weird’ and ‘odd’ compared to the other people around you?
Even as a child I wondered if I had been dropped by aliens from another planet. I always felt like I was on the outside of every group, be it school, St John’s Ambulance Brigade, Girl Guides or at 15 years old starting work. This progressed throughout my life, in my marriage(s), having children, even running my own successful company.
Then the grandchildren arrived…I have 11 grandchildren and 6 are diagnosed as autistic. Aha! and here all was revealed…
At 1st I thought there was no point in being diagnosed at my mature age, late 50’s, but then I realised that I could be the example these young people needed. Being autistic needn’t stop you being happy and having a fulfilling life.
To be honest it was not an easy straightforward process. I started this adventure by going to see my GP and being referred for an initial assessment. In my early 40’s I had already been diagnosed with a higher than average IQ and dyslexia and now they also added ADHD and dyspraxia. To obtain an autistic diagnosis I had to wait for another appointment further up the medical chain.
Some months later this appointment, with 3 questionnaires, came about. The medical chap asked me what my 1st thought had been when I met him. Now I know the ‘correct’ answer should have been something safe, maybe complimentary, but I was here for an autism diagnosis, so I decided to be honest!!!!
My thought, I said, was “why hadn’t he ironed his shirt?”
You can imagine this did not go down well with this young man, as he stroked the front of his very crinkled shirt.
One of the questionnaires was to be filled in by someone who knew me between the age of 5 and 12. Whilst this might have been possible for some, me being slightly older with no living parents and only estranged siblings, this was not possible.
Eventually my letter came to say though he was 98% positive I was autistic because of not having the questionnaire filled in he could not give me the diagnosis.
And so, the processs had to be restarted. Back to the GP I went and this time I was referred to the Maudsley Hospital. 2yrs later, now being over 60, I received an appointment with again the 3 questionnaires, 1 of which I still couldn’t get filled in.
This time, the 1st appointment was all about copying shapes, making up stories from pictures and general chat. Several months later my 2nd appointment arrived, this time with a psychologist, no crinkled shirt this time.
A couple of months later my full diagnosis arrived.
Now you might be saying “that’s a lot of rigmarole to go through”, but there again my grandchildren are worth it, plus so am I.
I have discovered a lot about myself over the intervening years, why I am the way I am, why people react around me the way they do, why I think how I think, why I stim, why I mask. This has all helped me feel less ‘weird’ less ‘odd’.
So, if you relate to any of this maybe it’s time for your adventure of getting diagnosed.