The verdict is in and after seven hours of assessments, I am officially Autistic. A High Functioning Asperger on the Autistic spectrum. All these years living as a neurotypical (NT) person, suddenly I’m from another world. Or am I?
At the beginning of this blogging process I’d only just begun the diagnostic journey and whilst I recognised my recently discovered truth, I knew the medical profession with their very strict criteria, may not agree.
My doctor had referred me to The Maudsley Hospital in London. The national hospital for Autism. The bee’s knees of diagnosis in the UK. Although warned that the waiting list was months, I knew I was going into the best hands.
Whilst anxiously anticipating my appointment I decided to find out more about the masking used by Auty girls. How could a stranger assess me when I obviously was doing a very good job of masking myself from myself? My fear was not being recognised. Silly really when I think of The Maudsley’s expertise.
When reading Philip Wylie’s book, ‘Very Late Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome,’ I came across Sara Heath, an Asperger herself, who runs Autonomy Plus. She and her husband support people on the spectrum. Via Skype she dissected my life in great detail. Her conclusion of my Autism was certain in her comprehensive report. Most important was her help in unmasking my behaviours, of which, I was so unaware. I found it incredible that things I had been doing and saying all my life were all traits of Autism.
Then everything shifted very quickly. The Maudsley called me to say they were coming to my area. With only a short drive to my first appointment with a specialist nurse it was an amazing relief that I didn’t have to travel to London. Two-hours of puzzles and storytelling, this assessment appealed to my creativity and I quite enjoyed myself.
Two weeks later came the final and conclusive assessment with a psychiatrist who specialises in late diagnosis of older women.
Getting ready to leave for the appointment, a sledgehammer of realisation hit me. My whole life had come to this one point. Suddenly it was so important to be heard and seen, recognised for who I truly am. I started crying and continued all the way to the health centre. What if she didn’t think I was Autistic? What if she did? My future was in her hands. If found to be Autistic, then what? If not, back to square one.
At the end of another two-hour assessment, after copious questions from childhood to present day, she told me she had no doubt that I was a High Functioning Asperger. I cried again both from relief and exhaustion. End or beginning – I knew life would never be the same.
So where do I belong now? Autistic people often think of themselves as aliens on the wrong planet. Many NT’s think of us as ‘disabled’. I’m fast coming to the conclusion that neither are truly correct. Many experts state that Autism isn’t a disability. It may feel that way to those having difficulty with society’s misunderstanding and judgement, therein lies the rub.
Earth is a planet shared by many communities of neurodiversity*. Science is proving that those with conditions such as Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, bipolar and more, have been part of the grand scheme since the beginning. We were meant to be here, yet, NT’s, in their majority, have stigmatised these conditions of brain difference, labelling them ‘disability.’ Is this a modern phenomenon linked to the medical world?
* ‘…neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism
and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome.’
Here’s a little story:
A wonderful new town was being built by developers. When buyers came to look they discovered all the ceilings were incredibly high. Everything was out of reach. Cupboards, electrical sockets etc. were so high up the walls they could only be accessed by a ladder. Puzzled by this strangeness, the potential buyers asked how they were supposed to utilise anything. The manager explained that the builders were giants and had built to the specifications of their own people. So, no-one under seven foot could live in the houses. All the ‘shorter’ people in the area were very miffed that they had been excluded from the new housing. Soon after, giants moved in and took over the whole area.
When one group, usually the biggest, decides they rule, they make everyone else fit round them, designing the world to suit their needs. Thus failing to provide adequate facilities to suit all. It shows a lack of understanding of all types of people. Disabled people therefore feel like the potential buyers, they’ve been alienated. It’s the same for many disabled people. I say, it’s a neurotypical (NT) world – at the moment. However, I’m still not totally sure what the Autistic world is like for me as yet, having only just moved into it!
In the meantime, this is my planet too, I am an Earth being, I am a human being that belongs as much as anyone else. So, NTs, buck your ideas up and starting learning and accepting that which you shy away from, we’re here to stay.
We come in peace and want to be your friends.
Totally in awe,