Seeking advice on diagnosis + pros and cons of diagnosis

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jk1
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16 Mar 2013, 5:25 am

Hello.

I’m intending to get a formal diagnosis for AS/ASD and I would like some advice regarding it from people here on WP.

I am an adult male living in Western Australia. I am single (not particularly interested in having a relationship) and all my family (parents and siblings) are overseas. I am an immigrant. English is my second language. I am currently employed but problems with colleagues are stressing me out and I feel like just giving up. I have a driver’s license, but have given up driving. I got a referral from my GP in late January to a psychiatrist, but I’ve been procrastinating.

So, specifically I would like to know the following:

1. What can I do to prepare for getting a diagnosis? I want to make the process as comfortable and quick as possible. My GP who gave me the referral simply told me I could prepare a document listing my symptoms etc. Is that enough? I’m also wondering if my lack of a family member here and English being my second language could complicate the process.

2. What kinds of tests etc can I expect to go through? Is there anything I can do to prepare for them?

3. How much can I expect to pay for the diagnosis?

4. What are the pros and cons of having a diagnosis? I’m wondering if a diagnosis, if disclosed to my boss, could somehow make some accommodations or protect me from bullying etc. Or could a label cause unfavorable treatment? Could it affect my private health insurance (I’m with HBF)? Could I lose my driver’s license because of my diagnosis?

5. Is it now not a good time to get a diagnosis because there are some changes to the diagnosis classification and criteria? I don’t know if the US diagnosis guidelines will influence the Australian ones.

I would appreciate it if anyone (from anywhere) could give me some advice on any of the above (not necessarily all) points. Or if you have anything else to say, please do. Thanks.



one-A-N
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16 Mar 2013, 8:14 am

Being diagnosed with AS doesn't require any changes to your driver's licence (I am diagnosed with AS and I live in Sydney and have a driver's licence).

If you are obviously impaired in some way that affects your driving - e.g. if you had significant problems with motor coordination, for example - then a review of your driver's licence might be required, just as if you lose an arm then your ability to drive must be checked out.

I was diagnosed by a psychologist. That cost $600-660 (I cannot remember now whether the fee per session was $200 or $220). But I was a private client and did not get Medicare coverage for the diagnosis. If you are erferred to a psychiatirst by your GP then I expect you can claim back a portion of the costs. When I was seeing the psychologist regularly, I got back $120 per visit from Medicare (the visits cost $200-220 each, so I was out of pocket just $80-100 per visit).

Australia is odd with DSM and the ICD. We sort of follow both. Officially our health statistics would be reported in terms of ICD categories, I think, but health professionals will problably use the DSM terminology of "Autism Specrum Disorder". Even NSW legislation started using the term ASD, instead of "autism", a few years ago.

I don't know what tests a psychiatrist might use. My psychologist used the AQ test (both for me and for my wife, who filled in the answers based on what she thought applied to me), as well as a long interview with me and a standard interview with me and my wife. He was well aware of my sensory issues, and judging from comments he made he was deliberately observing my (limited) use of gestures and other aspects of my social interaction and communication during these interviews (voice, eye contact, etc). During the long interview I certainly talked quite a bit about my adolescence and early twenties (I am now middle-aged, so that is quite ancient history...)

I decided to tell my boss about my diagnosis because I knew that he had family with psychological conditions and I already knew how he handled other staff with major psychological conditions. I have also told a few colleagues who I trust with that kind of information and who wold understand it, but certainly not the majority of people I work with.

Getting a diagnosis is helpful, but also requires time to adjust. I was a bit depressed at first, now that I was "officially different", but that was just a passing phase. It is easy to become obsessed with ASD and spend lots of time reading about it, etc (I did and do). It takes time to work out what helps and what hinders: how do I use this information to become a happier version of me? Having AS means having a bunch of strengths and weaknesses - knowing I have AS means I can use my strengths, and also work around my weaknesses in appropriate Aspie ways. Learning to do that takes time if you have spent all your life trying to be a neurotypical (and failing or at least feeling fake).

I am not aware that getting diagnosis has affected my health fund membership, although I don't think I have claimed for psychological vists - they were mostly covered by Medicare, other than the initial diagnostic assessment. Having AS should not, for example, affect your coverage for dental issues, etc - or for physical issues unrelated to AS.



jk1
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16 Mar 2013, 8:22 pm

Thank you one-A-N for sharing your information. It's very useful. While individual cases must be different, the cost doesn't seem to be as bad as I thought. I have no family member or partner who can give more objective information about me in the assessment. That worries me a bit.

I also tend to think that a diagnosis is more helpful than harmful. I believe I will be able to start adjusting my life to who I really am, rather than making useless attempts at living like other people.

I don't know if my boss would be that understanding of my condition. I might have to tell him any way because my work situation is getting horrible.