How Autism is diagnosed

I am only currently aware of the first half of the process of getting a diagnosis so all the following information will come from my own experiences and I am not a medical professional. I also write as a way to offer advice to anyone who may need it.

Step 1. Recognition.

The first step to diagnosis is recognising the symptoms of Autism and if you, or someone close to you, thinks you may be Autistic. Do some research online and have a look at typical Autistic behaviours and thought processes. If you’re female then try to look at places that offer advice aimed at females, otherwise the symptoms you’re reading may only be aimed at males. A great source of information is places like these, blogs. Read other people’s blogs, watch YouTube videos of people talking about their experiences with Autism. If you think that what they’re describing sounds like you then decide if you want to take it further.

Step 2. Self assessment.

I’m a big believer in not going to see a dr or any other professional unnecessarily so there is a way you can self assess online. The Autism Quotient is what my gp gave me to fill in to determine if I am on the Autism scale but this assessment can be found online and can be done from the comfort of your own home first. https://psychology-tools.com/test/autism-spectrum-quotient this is the link to the AQ and will give you a score and detail what your score means. Think about what the question is asking very carefully and answer truthfully, sometimes this can be quite an upsetting or difficult thing to do emotionally even though the questions appear very simple. Not answering truthfully and putting what you think you should to get the outcome you want is also not helpful as you may be misdiagnosed and not get the right support you need. I filled in the AQ with someone very close to me as I was unaware of some of the behaviours it was asking about and didn’t know I did certain things until I asked so I would advise doing the same if possible.

You may find that you get a score that is high but not high enough to be classed on the Autism scale but I wouldn’t be put off by that as you could still be autistic or it could be an indicator of something that has some similar traits to autism, such as social anxiety or other anxiety disorders so it would still be worth using this information when going to the next step.

Step 3. Talk to a medical professional.

Get an appointment with your GP and discuss with them your worries, thoughts and feelings. My GP asked me to take an AQ away to fill in and book another appointment, which I did. The GP I spoke to had no experience with the Autism diagnosis process and didn’t know how to score the AQ so she scored it wrongly and said I wasn’t on the scale, this immediately lost my trust in her. Because I had done the AQ at home I recognised it had been scored wrong and immediately asked for a second appointment with a different GP. Even though the second dr also had no experience with the process she did take the time to read everything carefully and scored the AQ properly, this revealed I was on the spectrum and would require further assessment by a specialist.

Step 4. The waiting game.

You have to be prepared for a long wait when going through this process as the average waiting time for an assessment appointment is 13 months. I’m currently in month 19 since I was placed on the list and I’m only just near the top and had my first contact with the Autusm department in my area a couple of weeks ago. The not knowing can be very distressing and, sometimes, it can feel easier to give up but I’m hoping it will all be worth it in the end.

The next steps for me are unknown, I don’t know if I will receive a diagnosis at the assessment appointment or if I will need to go to a few appointments but I’m at a stage we’re I am looking forward to the next step. A diagnosis will make all the difference in the world to me and it will help me get back on track to being a functioning adult again.

As soon as that next step has been taken for me I will write and let you all know what happens, what I needed to do etc.

If my humble musings are of any benefit to you, if you enjoy reading these or have any questions for me then feel free to follow, throw me some likes, comments etc.

For now I’m going back to hiding under my duvet with the cat and YouTube videos.

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Author: AdultsWithAustism

I decided I wanted to do something positive with my life and speak out about what it feels like to be an adult with autism.

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