finding my roots as a adult after I was assessed and diagnosed with autism.

The day of my first assessment for autism passed by quickly. After a morning of nerves and a delayed start, I spent just over an hour talking with the psychologist and then it was over. I was back in the world with a professional view that I am autistic. In a short space of time my questions were answered, only to be replaced with a new set of questions. 

Below is the first part of an entry I wrote the day after my assessment, which is about the assessment itself. 

First things first, I am autistic. That, is the professional view of the clinical psychologist who saw me yesterday. I hadn't expected to get a view so soon, as I thought that it would only be determined after the longer assessment which will involve a series of psychometric tests. So, there you go ... I was one of the pool of undiagnosed mothers, and I am feeling [as yet to be determined].

So back to the assessment. It did not get off to an auspicious start. I turned up more than an hour late, desperate for the loo, stressed out, and with a good portion of my coffee down the front of my dress. 

Not my finest moment! 

It started going wrong when I was so busy thinking about the assessment that I missed the motorway turn-off and had to drive an extra 30km to loop back to the missed junction. Knowing I was going to be late, and unable to get through to the office, I started panicking that they would cancel my appointment. Even after a call to my husband and his promise to contact the office, I couldn't calm down.  I was late, and everything was wrong. Then to top it off, there was no parking when I eventually got there ... cue hissy fit in the car, three attempts to park in the only spare space, another call to my husband to pay for the Ringo parking, and a mad dash to the office as I worried about being so late. Missing my mouth as I tried to finish off my cold coffee was the icing on the cake.

Thankfully there were no more incidents during the assessment. 

After a brief discussion about his credentials and his experience in diagnosing adult women (as opposed to kids and men),  I felt assured that I was in good hands. My key concern was that someone would spend hours listening to me speak and then tell me that I would need to go speak to someone else to confirm any diagnosis. I also didn't want someone who would just tell me I was autistic because they thought that was what I wanted to hear. After all, this is about me understanding myself and wanting to tackle my ongoing anxiety.

We spoke about my experiences and the reasons I thought I might be autistic, along with my struggles at work, home and in social situations. We talked about my job, what I do for a living, and the repeated feedback I received about needing to work on my social skills and communication style. We spoke about my mini obsessions, when they are most likely to occur, my ongoing struggles with anxiety and my often feeling like an outsider or displaced in crowds. Lastly, we chatted about my home-life and our family dynamics.

It wasn't as emotional as counselling ... in fact, it was pretty unemotional as I recited the facts of my life and he made notes.

Towards the end of the session, I was surprised when he mentioned that he felt that there was enough from what we discussed to suggest autism. I didn't know how to respond, so I didn't acknowledge it. Instead, I focused on next steps.

The discussion ended with the psychologist outlining the additional assessments (which he advised were not needed to confirm a diagnosis), and options for helping me to address some of the specific issues that I have been struggling with. It felt strange to hear someone talking to me about disabilities, the equality act and reasonable adjustments in relation to my struggles to get on with other people in the workplace. I don't want this to be viewed as a disability. I just want to understand more about why I struggle with things the way I do, and what can be done differently to help me succeed without being hampered by these challenges.

I am not quite ready to tell the world and have been processing it all day to understand what I think it means for me.  One thing I do know is that I feel very different compared to when my son was diagnosed. With him, I cried for his future ... today I cried for my past.

In my next post, I talk about my feelings after processing my diagnosis.
my experiences of being assessed for autism as an adult woman

This is the third in my series of posts about my autism assessment and diagnosis over the summer.

After I found the courage to book my assessment, I had two weeks of waiting. By the morning of the assessment, I was a bundle of nerves. It was difficult to think about anything else and my mind had become stuck on repeat, as I kept thinking through what I was going to say about why I thought I might be autistic.

This was written on the morning of the assessment, before I headed to the psychologist.

Today is the day.  By the time I go to bed tonight, I will have an independent view of whether it makes sense for me to go for the full psychometric assessment.

I am scared, nervous, and confused. I don't know what to expect, and it is driving me crazy. My mind is racing and I can't stop wondering about what is going to happen during the assessment.

I have so many questions playing over and over, like a record on repeat
  • Am I just jumping on the bandwagon
  • Am I looking for excuses
  • Am I overthinking or over-reacting about the struggles that I have been facing
  • Are they just going to get caught up on my family history
When I am not questioning my reasons for going for an assessment, I am thinking about all of the things that make me think that I might be autistic. I just want it to be done now, so that the repetitive thoughts will stop.

The questions and thoughts are making it difficult to focus on anything else, and I just want to to get back to a steady state where I am not up in the air .... but my anxiety keeps getting in the way. I can't stop wondering whether I am looking for something that isn't there, but then I am not imagining the fact that I am always getting the same feedback in my annual reviews and have not progressed at work at the same rate as my colleagues. I am stuck, and the same things keep holding me back. People, people, people. Why can't I just get on better with people?

I want answers and some guidance on what I can change to ensure that I don't continue to struggle. My greatest fear is that I don't get any answers, and will only be left with more questions. I am tired of being the difficult person, and being told that I need to change. 

I need a change, but I don't know for sure what that change is. Hopefully today can start to give me some insights into the change(s) needed. There is not much more time to think about it all now as I need to head out. It could all be quite different tomorrow!

My next post, on Monday, is about the first assessment and my thoughts & feelings as I processed what happened.

In my last post I wrote about suspecting I was autistic after having struggled with feeling like an outsider, often being viewed as abrasive at work, and increasing anxiety as I struggled with uncertainty and conflict at work.

This is my next diary entry, after I had spoken with my husband about my suspicions and contacted a clinical psychologist to book an autism assessment.
my journey being assessed for autism as an adult

If you have been following my blog posts, you may have noticed that I have started writing more about my own experiences, as well as my sons. Earlier this year I opened up about my Secret Hopes and Fears after I decided to embrace my vulnerability, and since then I have been on a journey of my own as I was assessed and then diagnosed as autistic.
high intensity social events can lead to social overload and a social hangover

I am currently struggling with a "social hangover". I don't know if this is "a thing" but it perfectly describes how I feel when I need to shut myself off after a period of increased social demands. After a busy week with multiple social events, I am now exhausted, on edge and need time to socially detox.

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