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ntt
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11 Feb 2019, 5:40 am

I'm new to these forums, so I hope this kind of post is suitable.

For a long time I've assumed that my difficulties in life can be attribute to social axiety. However, despite the years of awareness I've had about the issue, and the years of therapy, I feel I haven't progressed all that much. Sometimes I feel like my brain is wired differently to most people in this world. Recently I've heard a few stories about people who are diagnosed later in life as being on the spectrum, and it seems I do have a few common traits with people on the spectrum, e.g.
* Sensitivity to noises and bright lights - easily startled by large noises, and I have a bit of trouble with bright lights when I am driving. There are also certain food textures that I don't like.
* Poor social skills - not good eye contact, prosody (flat tone of voice which is exacerbated more when I am feeling anxious, feel I need to repeat myself a lot as I don't talk loud enough, or talk too quickly), sometimes can be quite literal (particularly when I am feeling anxious), quite withdrawn in social situations (sometimes bordering on selective mutism), tendency to zone out.
* Obsessive interests - sometimes I can be quite obsessive at work and I can sit in front of the computer for hours stuck on a small problem.
* Alexythmia - trouble expressing my emotions. I can feel like a robot at times
* Comorbid conditions - anxiety, depression, insomnia, IBS.

However no doctor/therapist I have visited has given any suggestion I may be on the spectrum, and there are quite a few things I don't share with people on the spectrum, e.g.
* Relatively well coordinated. Don't have obvious stimming behaviours. Although I can be clumsy sometimes which happens more when I'm feeling anxious.
* While I have trouble with social situations, I *think* I understand people's emotions reasonably well (when I'm not overwhelmed by anxiety).
* While I was a shy child, I think I was quite socially atuned, and had a number of friends (before the age of 12).
* Don't get too obsessive about specific interests, or dominate conversations with my knowledge of a particular area.

I think the main thing I would seek from a diagnosis it to understand myself better. My assumption in the past has been that I've been neurotypical, and the reason I haven't been succesful in fighting anxiety and depression, is perhaps due to a character flaw. But if I got a positive diagnosis for being on the spectrum, then perhaps I would have more self acceptance because it is an innate condition.

Do you people have any thoughts as to whether I should seek a diagnosis?



magz
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11 Feb 2019, 6:27 am

Diagnosis for adults is a bit tricky, especially with the "masked" form, where a person uses their intellectual abilities to conform to social norms.
I have this form, too. I'm not properly diagnosed, btw, because there are no services available for persons like me here while the diagnosis is tricky and costly. I have a psychologist's opinion and... it just fits.

It is typical with that form that you come to a moment in your adulthood when you can't carry on any longer. Many get misdiagnosed then. I was and I was really lucky to get out of it.
I was also lucky to find a psychologist and psychiatrist who really do help me.

I wonder if you relate to my expirience with social phobia:
I get scared of people when I'm tired. There is some level of my "psychological energy" where I get overwhelmed with anxiety and I'm scared to meet any people.
If I rest at home, doing whatever pleases me, for a few days or weeks (depending of severity), talking to no one and sleeping as much as I want to, the anxiety goes away and I can work and interact with people again.
My therapist says, this anxiety is actually healthy because interacting with people drains me. When I am already drained, my brain is defending itself from deep discharge that would damage it.


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DanielW
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11 Feb 2019, 8:56 am

getting an official diagnosis can be a good thing. It really does depend on your own reasoning though. If you are simply curious, you can self-test or seek out a mental health professional.

I got diagnosed relatively late myself (at 30) and it has had positives and negatives. on the plus side, it is a relief to finally know why I am the way I am. On the less positive side, I know it's permanent and medication isn't going to "fix" me, if you understand my meaning. There aren't as many services available for adults as there are for children either. Finding age-appropriate treatment hasn't been easy.



yogiB1
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11 Feb 2019, 1:08 pm

I think it depends on the person. If you care enough to post something on a forum full of people you don't know, then you might want to consider it.

I accidentally found the ASD test online and failed it hardcore, so I went to a therapist and she eventually said "yep, you've got Asperger's" and that was that. I was super fixated on it for a long time, and couldn't get past the fact that I might/might not have it. Once I was diagnosed, I went through a self exploration and now it's just a part of who I am and I've accepted it. My therapist said that it's pretty common for people on the spectrum to become very fixated on it, and have the need to know.

I've heard horror stories of people who have to take these long drawn out tests and stuff, and it can be quite expensive. So depending on your circumstances, it could go either way.


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BTDT
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11 Feb 2019, 1:23 pm

I understand that a diagnosis is free in the UK, but that it may take a long time for an assessment. It also seems that some people are being discouraged from getting a diagnosis in the UK.

In the USA it depends on your health insurance coverage.

If you can afford it, you can seek a private diagnosis and get that done relatively quickly.



ntt
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11 Feb 2019, 5:46 pm

DanielW wrote:
getting an official diagnosis can be a good thing. It really does depend on your own reasoning though. If you are simply curious, you can self-test or seek out a mental health professional.

I've taken some online tests and they suggest I may be on the spectrum, but I'm not completely convinced by these tests alone. In Australia the diagnosis is done by a psychiatrist, and the diagnosis can be fairly expensive - from talking to my doctor it seems that it will cost $500-1000 AUD as it will required a few visitits to the psychiatrist before a final test. However, in Australia if you have mental illness there is a way to see a psychologist for free (for up to 10 sessions), and while they are unable to give an official diagnosis, I think this may be a good approach as they may give me another indication as to whether or not I should seek a diagnosis.

DanielW wrote:
I got diagnosed relatively late myself (at 30) and it has had positives and negatives. on the plus side, it is a relief to finally know why I am the way I am. On the less positive side, I know it's permanent and medication isn't going to "fix" me, if you understand my meaning. There aren't as many services available for adults as there are for children either. Finding age-appropriate treatment hasn't been easy.

Yeah, it seems that a lot of servies are targeted at children. What do you seek from treatment? It seems that with mental illness, e.g. anxiety, it can be overcome with treatment, but with autism it is more about adapting given the fact that the brain functions differently.

One treatment I've read for children is social skills training. I myself have read books on social skils, but struggle to apply some of these concepts in the real world. Sometimes I think I would like to read a book on social skills written by an autistic person. Even if I'm not on the spectrum I think this kind of resource would be helpful to me.



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11 Feb 2019, 6:58 pm

I learned social skills in my late 30s and beyond by just doing it. Sure, I made mistakes at first, but I realized that most normal people have short memories and don't remember much. The difficulty with a book is that everything is so context sensitive. Ideally, you would have an NT around to discuss situations with you, but that isn't possible for most of us.



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11 Feb 2019, 7:13 pm

If you have the ability to, go for it. It is better to know than not know.


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ntt
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12 Feb 2019, 6:47 am

magz wrote:
I wonder if you relate to my expirience with social phobia:
I get scared of people when I'm tired. There is some level of my "psychological energy" where I get overwhelmed with anxiety and I'm scared to meet any people.
If I rest at home, doing whatever pleases me, for a few days or weeks (depending of severity), talking to no one and sleeping as much as I want to, the anxiety goes away and I can work and interact with people again.
My therapist says, this anxiety is actually healthy because interacting with people drains me. When I am already drained, my brain is defending itself from deep discharge that would damage it.


Yes, I think I'm somewhat similar in that I get drained from social interactions, and it takes time to recharge my batteries. On the rare occasion I have positive social interactions I feel that it can energize me though, but 99% of the time this is not the case.

Also, I find that when my insomnia is particularly bad it tends to make me more anxious. It feels like I go more inside my shell, and maintaining basic human interactions becomes even harder. I feel like I am more 'jumpy' and I feel more separate from the world around me.



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12 Feb 2019, 8:59 am

I think social interaction for Aspies is like exercising. If you haven't done it in a while it is hard at first. Some people take time to recover. And you can't do much when you first start out.



rebeccadanielprophet
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12 Feb 2019, 6:12 pm

I want to get a diagnosis too. A lot of women express autism differently than boys and thus it is missed during childhood. Also I wish I could find an autism support group near me.


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BTDT
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12 Feb 2019, 9:36 pm

I'd suggest seeing the support group to find out who can diagnose female autism. Some "experts" have trouble admitting they just don't know.



shortfatbalduglyman
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12 Feb 2019, 10:24 pm

If getting a diagnosis is going to help you get reasonable accommodations at work, that is one thing

If a diagnosis helps you get meds that you need, that's one thing

But for "self confidence" only? Sounds insufficient

Sometimes psychologists misdiagnose or do not give the correct diagnosis

If you have the $$, and if you want to, fine

But your symptoms might be outside of your control even if you are not autistic



:mrgreen:



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13 Feb 2019, 7:21 am

Participating in a research study may allow a full evaluation, not just your weaknesses, but your strengths as well.
It is very easy to take your gifts for granted, assuming that everyone else can do that.

You can gain confidence by doing activities that take advantage of your strengths.