Am I autistic and is there benefit to diagnosis?

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jelly
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18 Jun 2006, 6:24 pm

Several people have suggested to me that I might be autistic. I originally dismissed it out of hand because I am creative. however, the more research I have done into the topic the more I think they may be right...I have two questions that I was hoping someone could help with. First, does anyone agree with me and secondy, as I am 32 is their any benefit in diagnosis?

I have always had difficulty with socialising. I was very badly bullied at school (to the extent that even now in my home town sometimes people will yell odd things at for no reason - I now actually feel v. sorry for them for having nothing better to do with their lives). People that I do not know, if asked about me, consider that I am odd. Having said that I did have several good freinds who I remain very friendly with.

I hate social situations where there are people who I do not know. I do not know how to realte to them. If it is a work situation I treat it like an interview and prepare a number of questions to ask people - hoping to prompt them to talk about themselves (a very useful trick - allows me to nod and smile). I find normal small talk situtations almost impossible. For example I don't like to say hello to the receptionist as I walk past in the morning because she may say something in return that I have not planned a response to. If it is just a social situation I rely on the fall back of gutting drunk. However, if I am in control of the situation I have no problem. I am a solicitor and was a criminal defence advocate. I am now a law lecturer and have no problem giving lectures and leading tutorials (but do find it any social communication with students and other staff difficult - in general I avoid it where at all possible).

I don't know whether I have difficulty with eye contact. I have always been criticised for looking at people strangely. I am trained to make eye contact when engaging in public speaking - but think that is probably different (there are tricks to use so that you are not making eye contact at all - the audience just think you are).

Every single school report I ever had labelled me as quiet. I often used reading or 'working efficently' as an excuse for not mixing. For example I used to go to the library alone and do my home work at lunch time.

I am often away in a little world of my own. People can walk up to me and talk to me and I do not notice, as a consequnce I am labelled 'cool and aloof' - which is fine because it means that I do not have to enter into random small talk. My parents noticed this when I was a child and thought I was deaf. I was tested and the test was of course negative.

I have an ability to completely shut down. This is something my parents found particularly frustrating when I was a teenager.

I am clumsy my parents labelled me a 'fairy elephant'. I regularly drop things/fall over.

I need to plan everything and have back-up plans to put in place in case the original plans don't work. If I have no back-up plan I panic. A classic very simple example is buying lunch. I have exactly the same everyday. It is just too difficult to think of something different. I have a back-up plan in case it is not available. If the back-up is not available it puts me into such a panic that I give up and don't eat. I don't think this is an eating disorder - because it is not the eating that is a problem - but the inability to deal with changing viariables. The inability to deal with unforseen variables gets notably worse if I am in a very stressful situation. On the upside the need to plan does have advantages - such as planning great holidays.

I originally thought that I do not collect anything and then I realised that I collect books (which I like to keep in alphabetical order by author - sub cat by title and height) I get really upset if people borrow and do not return them or put them in the wrong place. I also have a place for everything - I think this is partly something I have learnt with old age as it really helps to prevent me losing things (I used to have to wear my keys round my neck and still managed to lose them!).

I also do not like people moving my things (and can tell if they have moved them an inch). It is not that I am particularly ordered it is just that if things like patterns or shapes do not 'go' I find it really upseting. Tis includes patterns presented by negative shapes.

I have difficulty starting things - but once started I am uber focused and can easily work non-stop for 10-20 hours. If I find something I don't understand I have to understand it before I can move on. Not understanding is not an option.

I am quite creative (A at Art A Level) - but when I look at the type of art I do, I realise that I copy photographs I have taken - so is it really that creative at all? I have been told I have a good eye for colour - and like patterns or shapes colours that don't go are sickening.

I am useless at maths and have difficulty remembering numbers (took me 6 years to remember my mobile phone number) but can identify patterns quickly in documents that have numbers in them. In addition I can't spell (so sorry about the bad spelling). I read by word/sentence paragraph shape not by breaking down the words.

I scored 32 on the AQ test - I found some of the questions superficial and difficult to answer.

The only person who has ever understood any of the above is my boyfriend who scored 36 on the AQ test and we think is probably HFA (He reads Calculus for fun!) - when we met there was an instant connection/understanding.

In relation to diagnosis - I was wondering whether it would help for a couple of reasons. If I ever have kids I could be on the look out for early symptoms - so that they have some chance of avoiding the hell that I went through. I think if I am, and was diagnosed, medical professioanls would be more open to considering it in my children. Also, superficially, it would mean I could tell people at work that I am incapable of relating on a small talk level - which could hopefully avoid the need to!

I am sorry this is so long - I think it is somewhat thearputic to write and I am very grateful to anyone that managed to read the whole thing. I will completely understand if reading it sapped all energy and that everyone is now incapable of responding.

So anyone that gets to the end and replies you have my heart felt thanks (and admiration!)



Musical_Lottie
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18 Jun 2006, 6:42 pm

I don't have a dx, but when I found how easily I could relate to people on here it was useful to me because it explained so much, and also meant I could actually research it properly. Like other dxs I have (for other things) - I foudn them so useful because it explained so much about the relevant aspects of my life, and because I could research them properly. I have learned far more in the past couple of years about myself than collectively in the rest of my life (13/14 yrs or so) previously.

EDIT: Oops, sorry. Hi and welcome.


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Last edited by Musical_Lottie on 18 Jun 2006, 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

klassobanieras
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18 Jun 2006, 6:42 pm

Hello, jelly.

Personally I'd guess that yes, you're somewhere on the spectrum. But I'm just some random bloke on the internet, diagnosing you based on information about AS that I learnt from other random people on the internet.

As for getting diagnosed or not, I'm struggling with this one too and currently leaning towards not bothering. I already know that I have AS and I'm not planning to claim any sort of disability benefits or support, so I can't see the point.

Anyway, welcome to WrongPlanet.


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Jetson
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18 Jun 2006, 11:59 pm

I got professionally diagnosed at age 39 for a couple of reasons.

The main one was that I need to know the truth. A self-diagnosis is nothing more than informed speculation, and I'd be forever doubting myself. What if it's PTSD? Or schizophrenia? Could it have anything to do with the concussions I suffered repeatedly in my accident-prone childhood? Did drugs really fry my brain like those 80's TV commercials said they would? What if I'm being exposed to a neurotoxin like lead or mercury even now? Am I just a hypochondriac? A lot of people say that aspies know more about AS than the doctors do, but that line of reasoning assumes that you *are* an Aspie -- if a bunch of self-diagnosed aspies render an opinion on your symptoms then your diagnosis is only as accurate as theirs.... Do you trust self-diagnosed strangers with something as important as this?

Another reason was family. First of all, they would never accept a self-diagnosis and would hound me to see a doctor for all the same reasons I listed above. Second of all, my brother and mother have a lot of the same symptoms I do. Because of my work situation, I was able to get the diagnosis essentially for free. They've decided not to bother with a professional diagnosis, but can at least use me for comparison and come to conclusions that are more likely to be accurate than if they simply read about it online.

Another reason is that I would never feel comfortable telling people I'm an aspie if I was self-diagnosed. (I don't tell a whole lot of people anyway, but at least I can do it with a clear conscience.) If people decided to disagree with me then I'd have absolutely no argument other than "well I think I am", which wouldn't have any weight. I'd also feel guilty presenting myself as an aspie if I wasn't absolutely sure, because any opinion I have on what it's like to be an aspie or what society should do to help aspies would be unsubstantiated. We have enough problems with NTs running the various autism societies without having NTs erroneously claiming to be autistic themselves....

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I was concerned about the future. I'm not currently planning to claim any disability benefit or ask for support, but what about 10 or 20 years from now? My parents are alive NOW. My employer will pay for a diagnosis NOW. If I was to need support services insome far-off future then getting a diagnosis could be expensive or completely impossible. Having a little piece of paper in my lock-box that says I've been professionally diagnosed as autistic is like an insurance policy -- I may never need it but I feel better knowing it's there.


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wobbegong
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19 Jun 2006, 1:09 am

Jelly

Being creative is not an excluding criteria. In fact Aspies often create little worlds of their own especially when young - play involves creating the whole world and any other kids (siblings) have to fit into the world. Photography is considered a very creative medium. After all you generally have to select what you photograph and frame it up in the camera.

If I took a picture of a dead tree, I doubt anyone would be paying me money to have a copy like they will for a copy of an Ansell Adams dead tree.

As far as getting a diagnosis goes - it depends if you perceive a benefit for it. For me there is no benefit. But that doesn't mean I can't address various expressions/symptoms that are related to my aspieness that I feel are stopping me from doing what I want to do.

For instance, regardless of the diagnosis you get, you might still want to seek out help for dealing with students and receptionists on a slightly more friendly less austere manner. You might find students (or even receptionists) have ideas that are fascinating and inspiring, but not if you are too frightened to talk to them.

And you might want to learn ways of living more flexibility so you handle sudden changes in plans better.

It is interesting that you can be good at patterns and crap at remembering numbers. I like patterns and the numbers are just patterns to me. I was very bad at arithmetic, though. I knew the rules ok, but I'd make lots of "careless mistakes". I think there is a more forgiving name for that like dyslexia for misreading things.



JulieArticuno
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19 Jun 2006, 8:56 am

jelly wrote:
Several people have suggested to me that I might be autistic. I originally dismissed it out of hand because I am creative. however, the more research I have done into the topic the more I think they may be right...I have two questions that I was hoping someone could help with. First, does anyone agree with me and secondy, as I am 32 is their any benefit in diagnosis?

I have always had difficulty with socialising. I was very badly bullied at school (to the extent that even now in my home town sometimes people will yell odd things at for no reason - I now actually feel v. sorry for them for having nothing better to do with their lives). People that I do not know, if asked about me, consider that I am odd. Having said that I did have several good freinds who I remain very friendly with.


Story. Of. My. Life. Yes, that happened (and still happens) to me)-people from school yelling "weirdo!" "whalesteak" (a pun on the sound of my name and my eco-obsession) "freak" and even "psycho"-despite the fact I am non-violent and never hit peoiple who hit me!


jelly wrote:
I hate social situations where there are people who I do not know. I do not know how to realte to them.
I am often away in a little world of my own.
I need to plan everything and have back-up plans to put in place in case the original plans don't work. .
(I used to have to wear my keys round my neck.)
I have difficulty starting things - but once started I am uber focused and can easily work non-stop for 10-20 hours.
I am useless at maths and have difficulty remembering numbers.


Yes, i'm familiar with all these things-I once sat down with a ton of maths homework backload and worked for FOUR HOURS without a break to get it done. That's on something I'm NOT interested in. If it's something I AM interested in, then yes ten hours or more is normal for me.

Jetson wrote:
I got professionally diagnosed at age 39 for a couple of reasons.

The main one was that I need to know the truth.

Another reason was family. First of all, they would never accept a self-diagnosis and would hound me to see a doctor for all the same reasons I listed above.
Another reason is that I would never feel comfortable telling people I'm an aspie if I was self-diagnosed. (I don't tell a whole lot of people anyway, but at least I can do it with a clear conscience.) If people decided to disagree with me then I'd have absolutely no argument other than "well I think I am", which wouldn't have any weight. I'd also feel guilty presenting myself as an aspie if I wasn't absolutely sure, because any opinion I have on what it's like to be an aspie or what society should do to help aspies would be unsubstantiated. We have enough problems with NTs running the various autism societies without having NTs erroneously claiming to be autistic themselves....


Jetson-for all the reasons you list above, I'm asking my doctor to send me to someonme who can test me to see if I am or I'm not. Wether he WILL remains to be seen.

The self-knowlege, for me, is THE most important reason. There is a lot of (very painful) events and situations that occurred through my childhood, (some that I thought had no connection to each other-like not making eye contact, my inability to make friends, how i was picked on and my atrocious handwriting that nothing-even special handwriting classes- helped) and early and late teens (and related stuff that happens even NOW) that fits with what I've read about AS. A diagnosis, for me, would be a release, a feeling of relief (now I KNOW "why me? Why?")

Julie



RachelLugiagirl
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19 Jun 2006, 9:42 am

:oops: Dear Jelly, Me too!
I am wondering whether to seek diagnosis because i hate labels and i am on benefits already because of a depression diagnosis and my doctor is an as*hole and I hate seeing him for aything! But you can get real on line help here with socialising and stuff and elsewhere. I wish i'd been able to be a lawyer and have a place for everything, i can't afford storage space but have a second hand bookcase. i notice differences but if I cannot find things in short times i panic and get miserable. i used to have my keys around my neck all the time but now rely on a handbag or fannybag . i have two mobiles each with the number taped on the back as i can't remember them. normally i am good in grammar and spelling but on the net I sometimes drop back into this no capitals style and make mistakes in typing. Teenagers still yell thingsat me too. I am well creative i write stories poems plays articles and do drawings and paintings. I hate maths and did not do welllat science but I guess 4 gcses and maths and 1science a level is ok. And iwuld love to read calculus for fun -we did a bit at school before they chucked me out of the top stream for failing maths first time and i loved it! I regularly worked for 4 hours a night at schhool and only managed guides as a club which i hated and then rangers and red cross which was better but spoiled when they would not let me take Ambulance Aid because of my depression pills. I hate small talk too, and lunch decisions, talking on the phone to people I don't know (or otherwise) and
counselling(talk therapy). I love being on stage but mainly for singing and in choir at church.i am happy to listen to people and can give advice or talk about my opinion orl listen to theirs. I have collected about 20 qualifications and lost many certificates but cannot hold down a relationship or job -well jobs are worse. My parents too would only accept official diagnosis and I might be able to get job help even if I don't get any other benefits and it would explain everything.



naja
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19 Jun 2006, 10:26 am

Hi Jelly,

Wow, there seem to be lots of nuances in autism, but your story sounds really familiar. Cool to read something like that. Cheers.

I wanted to say something about the diagnose. I don't consider getting diagnosed, because I have completely no trust in 'professionals'. In the end what seperates them from us is that they have expierience in seeing or diagnosing (a lot of) autists, whereas we have the experience of living with it for a whole life. I think the latter weights more for me and reading books on psychology or autism i can also do (NOW, not 15 years ago when I went to college to just pass the exam like they did.) So basically, what makes a difference for a diagnose by someone with a degree in psychiatry or someone else. For me, at least i know that i can trust myself, my capabilities and interprete my judgement. With a 'professional', it is usually trust them blindly or better don't go there.

There is a couple of pragmatic reasons to consider diagnose though, like for example getting special support if you ever need it (or your children). To me, it seems that it wouldn't hold any personal value though. I think you are intelligent enough to find out for yourself, and you are just as well classified.

I have serious doubts to the psychologists theories about autism as well, read the article at the link below if you want to find out about that. You probably won't agree though if you worked as a defence attorney...lol



jelly
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20 Jun 2006, 11:48 am

I just wanted to say thanks so much to everyone who has replied. It is really reassuring to know that there is so much support around and so many people with similar experiences - you have all given me great insight into my own mind and I am immeasurably grateful.

Reading around this site is great, lots of things I thought were my own stupidity like taking 6 times (yep 6) to pass my driving test, niavity and being completely unable to follow mirror moves - I once attended an areobics class - never again. I left half way through...

In addition, someone mentioned thinking in pictures - that is how I have always described my own thought process and I thought I was the only person who did that.

I think I am probably coming towards self-diagnosis, there just seems to be so much that fits - certainly too much for coincidence. Whether to get professionally diagnosed? Although my faith in professionals is limited to the extent that a professional is shaped by their own life experiences and prejudices (including me - the liberal femminist) I think having read eveyone's replies this probably will be of benefit to me in the long run - although I think I am going to have a number of problems getting a GP referral - because I have learnt how to function in everyday society...and GPs (by their very nature) are notorious for their lack of indepth knowledge about anything (although there are excellent and caring GP's - getting acess to one is just pot-luck...)

All in all, if I am AS, although my life has been difficult, there are many things - such as my 'unique' (which having looked at this site isn't that unique at all...) way of thinking that I would not want to change.

This is a great site.

Thank you

Jelly



jammie
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20 Jun 2006, 11:54 am

your welcome, and trustus, you are as unique as anyone else on this site. AS or not. welcome and i hope you stick around.

^licks^

jammie


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klassobanieras
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20 Jun 2006, 12:16 pm

FYI, getting diagnosed in the UK if you're a normal-acting adult in appears to be a bit of a long-winded process. One place I spoke to (The Centre for Social and Communication Disorders) described how to get to one of their docs:

1) Persuade your GP you might have AS and that you need a diagnosis. He will refer you to a local service.
2) Persuade them that you might have AS, and get them to refer you to CSCD.
3) Wait for CSCD to get funding to diagnose you, which could take a while (if they manage it at all). I don't think that diagnosing well-adjusted aspie adults is a very high funding priority.

If you can't be bothered with this, or don't manage to get all the way through it, they offer private diagnoses for those in your situation. But it ain't cheap (£600 IIRC).


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jelly
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20 Jun 2006, 12:51 pm

Thanks. I think that once I have plucked up the courage to go to the GP I will have to write everything down...and I guess I better start saving.