A guest post from Lumpy Socks, an autistic female with a midlife diagnosis.
I’ve never felt like I fitted in. I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in. My first exposure to autism was on a 9-hour flight from Orlando when a little boy screamed for most of the flight and my mum explained he was autistic.
I have to be honest and tell you that I never heard anyone talk positively about people with autism. I have heard autistic people spoken about as being “a bit funny”, weird, peculiar, difficult. Consequently, I never even considered autism as an explanation for my own quirks and feelings. Until the pandemic.
Suddenly, we were in lockdown and, after the initial shock of the change to my routine, I had a whole new routine that I loved – I didn’t have to see other people, I could wear the most comfortable clothes I owned every single day, I had a routine and strategy for sourcing all the foods I needed in my day and every day looked pretty much the same. [Another ND female shared her thoughts on how lockdown helped her thrive]
I would wake up with butterflies in my tummy at the excitement of it. At the same time, someone I know was advised they should be assessed for autism. I didn’t get it. She and I are very similar in so many ways, but have never really got along. In the same way I would never consider autism for myself, I would never have considered it for her. As the reasons were explained to me, my mind went into overdrive as I could see all those characteristics in myself.
I started to write down how I felt and shared it with my husband. He agreed that I might be autistic too so I searched on the internet for more advice and went to see my GP. To cut a long story short, 18-months, 6 tests, my own profile of evidence, and a 4-hour meeting with 2 psychologists later I was told that I was undoubtedly autistic: “You’ve absolutely done the right thing. We are in absolutely no doubt that we have a highly intelligent autistic woman sitting in front of us.”
If you are considering exploring an autism diagnosis it is worth looking at NHS Right to Choose to see if that can speed up the process. Some of the guidance in my preparing for an ADHD assessment blog may also help.