In order to help me to recover from my Anorexia, I was referred to a psychologist, therapist and a dietician. After spending a long period of time in Therapy, my Therapist picked up on my inability to express my thoughts, feelings and my emotions and the fact that I am unable to read other people’s facial expressions and so on. My therapist and I have grown very close and she has been easily able to express the difficulties I have faced during each therapy session, though I have challenged myself alot lately and have succeeded in making both my team proud. Yay!
Nearing the end of one of my sessions in Therapy, the conversation suddenly turned serious (well, more serious I should say) I was casually asked whether anybody had ever mentioned Autism to me before – which left me in complete shock to put it briefly. At the time, I gather that I felt quite offended as I assumed that I was being made out to be unintelligent or stupid. I felt confused and overwhelmed and awaited an explanation from my therapist, suggesting her reasons for coming to this conclusion/idea. It hit me like a tonne of bricks when my Therapist went on to suggest I go in for an Autism diagnosis. Me, Autistic? No, it couldn’t be. I had an idea of Autism and what Autistic people ‘look like’ and ‘behave like’ (though I know now that I was wrong to judge and that I shouldn’t have believed common misconceptions and the current stigma surrounding Autism.) and I didn’t believe that I fit the Autistic criteria at all – though, I had a lack of knowledge of Autism and what it actually means which is still growing by the day.
My Therapist and I spoke about Autism during our following sessions and I was given information to read and we watched clips together which displayed how Autistic people are likely to act in certain situations. Ie – going into the Supermarket and walking down the street. And to my dismay, it all made sense. Other people felt the same way I did. Other people were experiencing the same struggles as me. I wasn’t alone – and I felt a sense of relief. Things were beginning to make sense and I opted to go ahead with the Autism assessment, with the support of my family, friends and Eating Disorder team.
Behold, around a 6 month waiting time, a long-awaited appointment swiftly made its way through the door. And I was given a date to which part one of my assessment would take place. (The assessment took part in 3 separate sessions; as follows)
Session One- Two middle-aged men knocked on the front door (it was a home assessment) and went on to explain what would take place in the following assessment and upcoming assessments. I felt so uncomfortable and awkward – I was asked questions where I had to do lots of thinking about my past and the friends I had made in the past and in the present. I was asked questions about how I function and communicate in day to day life. I was also asked questions about how I was as a child and how I did education-wise.
Session Two- Following on from session one, the men wanted to speak to my Mum about my childhood, including my milestones and my development overall. I didn’t attend this session, but the point of it was to see how I developed and to see if I had Autistic traits as a youngster. (Because Autism is a life-long condition which should’ve been picked up in earlier years.)
Session Three- This was a practical assessment, which sounds like fun, when in fact it was extremely patronising and embarrassing with the things I’d been asked to do. I had to do a range of activities and meet a new lady (which detected how I acted with new people) and I was said to be very anxious and I’d made my fingers bleed unintentionally in a bid to distract myself from the uncomfortable situation. Anyhow, I was given a range of tasks which ranged from reading a picture book and telling the story from my own imagination, telling my own story from a range of inanimate objects, showing the assessors how I’d brush my teeth, placing shapes in a grid and more.
With all this in mind, I was left feeling lost and confused, wondering how on earth all of this would help me to get an Autism diagnosis. But a few weeks later – I was diagnosed with Autism. Instead of being sad, or angry, I was shocked (kind of like my Anorexia diagnosis) because I couldn’t grasp the fact that I had gone through 19 years of my life without a diagnosis and without any further support! But admittedly, I firstly felt ashamed when I recieved my new diagnosis and focused on the negatives as opposed to the positives. Would people think I was strange? How would I cope in my future life? I suddenly became fixated on the ‘word’ I had been given, doubting myself and my abilities because I began feeling unworthy and dumb. Autism autism autism swam around my mind, whirling in a deep sea of thoughts and anxities. However, it has now been 4 months since my diagnisis – which is still relavitely new and scary, but I am learning to come to terms with it each and every day. Just like my Anorexia diagnosis. Acceptance is the key, the sooner I accept my illnesses and my disabilities the sooner I can speak up about them and seek the help I need in order to get me back on track.
Prior to this, I have now begun Autism support groups in order to help me combat my fears and to enable me to learn coping methods for every day life. I have attended two of the groups already and am yet to gain a positive experience from them, as I am currently at the stage of awkwardness and uncertainty. But this is only the beginning and I can only try my hardest and push myself by choosing to carry on attending the groups. I have also begun one to one sessions with my new Autism worker, Cath, who is lovely and very supportive and knowledgeable. Though I am still coming to terms with my new diagnosis and it’s early days yet – Things can only get better from here and I will begin to see the world in a much clearer, beneficial way after 19 years!
#autism #autistic #aspergers #autisticspectrum