What were the clues? Why did you seek diagnosis?
I had gotten very isolated in life. Even though I was running a business with 15 people, I spent most of my time alone, more so than I noticed people around me. I spent (and still do) most of the day in my little office at home, breaking only to go for a run by myself, or maybe catch-up something on the iPlayer. I have very few friends, and my phone never ever rings (except for my lovely wife, who calls all the time :-) )
I would regularly get into conflict with people. Partly in work, but also in day to day life. A lot of it stemmed from very undiplomatic or inconsiderate behaviour from me, and an inability to deal with my emotions, such as stress or anger.
I joined peer organisations, such as the Entrepreneurs Organisation, but struggled to work with peers, and kept failing when trying to work in groups and committees. For example, I was kicked out of a training course for incessantly asking questions. My coping mechanisms seemed a little unusual too. For example, on a 2 day committee meeting one time, with a group I trusted, I posted a note at the front to the effect that, if ever I started to over-focus on one topic and relentlessly 'go down a rabbit hole', then the others could wave the note, and I would know to back off. It was really effective, but I have never seen anyone else need to use a technique like that.
How did you get diagnosed?
I went to see a therapist about these social issues. After an hour of questions and answers, she asked whether I had ever considered an autism diagnosis. I was quite shocked, my son has Aspergers, but no-one had ever directly proposed it for me before.
I then did the Professor Baron-Cohen 50 point online adult autism test. I was very skeptical when I got a score of 38, quite above the threshold of 32. I assumed the test was skewed, and that anyone would score similarly, so I had all the people I knew well and I thought similar to me do the test too. Not one scored near 30.
So, I went to my son's autism specialist, and he said the same thing "Yes, I think you are autistic". I started getting annoyed by all this at this time, for some reason especially being told for the first time "You're human first, and autistic second.", and cycled home under a cloud.
Finally, I contacted a national autism charity ADRC (Autism Diagnosis Research Centre) and they performed the full diagnosis on me, including meeting with my mother, interviews with psychiatrists, and lots of forms and test. They presented a thick report, the summary of which was: "Yes."
How did you feel about getting diagnosed?
Surprised, if I'm honest, and a little uncertain of whether it 'fit'. Parts of the diagnosis seemed to really make sense, but I struggled to really relate to the classic 'full' autistic diagnosis, or many of the ADS-diagnosed people I met.
What has happened since your diagnosis?
Since then, I have come to terms with it, particularly through the experience of meeting with others like me - diagnosed with Aspergers, but high-functioning enough to have had some success in business. It's that small group of peers that I relate to most, so I know I'm not alone.
Professionally, I have taken a new path in life, one that embraces more who I am, with the knowledge of diagnosis. I sold off my old business, and am now building up a business in consulting and coaching. I know I'm not good at the CEO role, it's simply too network and relationship-focused, but I also know I can be uniquely valuable to other CEOs who maybe lack my ability to focus, analyse, and conceptualise complex information.
It is always great to welcome new contributors to Me.Decoded, people who are able to share their varied experiences and give insights on different aspects of being Neurodivergent.
If you are Neurodivergent (autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic, bipolar, Tourettes, OCD, ADHD, ADD, or other) and are interested in becoming a contributor to Me.Decoded then please get in touch.