Personal Stories, Autism, Diagnosis

My autism diagnosis: booking the assessment

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.

I have done it, and put my thoughts about being autistic out into the world.  I have reached out to a specialist, booked for the first stage of an adult autism assessment, and I have opened up to my husband about thinking I might be autistic.

I considered going to my GP about getting assessed, but I can't face having to convince them to refer me for an assessment. I had a difficult enough time trying to get support when my anxiety was at an all-time high, and I am still not fully over what we went through to get my son a diagnosis and an EHCP.

So I contacted a clinical psychologist who carries out adult autism assessments. They  informed me that it is a 3 stage process.

Stage 1 - an initial hour-long assessment with their clinical psychologist, to discuss the issues and challenges that I am experiencing. At this stage, a decision is taken on whether to proceed to stage 2, based on the initial views.
Stage 2 - a follow-up assessment involving cognitive testing and completing several questionnaires
Stage 3 - draft report and follow up feedback assessment to discuss the findings
After this a final report is written and sent out.

I have spent the last 10 days wrestling with taking the next step and booking the first assessment. To be honest I have tied myself in knots with multiple lists in my head weighing up whether there are enough characteristics to justify me going for an assessment.

I don't want people to think that I am looking for excuses for my behaviour

I don't want people to think that I am looking for an excuses for my behaviour, or that I am jumping onto a diagnosis bandwagon. I also don't want my going for an assessment to cause people to question my son's diagnosis with an "oh, she thinks everyone is autistic".

Last night it all came pouring out to my OH, as I was cooking dinner. It felt a bit like what I guess coming out must feel. Daunting, scary, emotional and empowering. We talked for hours about the struggles I was having at work and at home, and what it was like for me growing up and in school. There were things that came up that I hadn't thought of before. Spending most of primary school in the school library, rather than playing with the other children. My mini obsessions, as far back as high school when my love of forensics (pre CSI) would have me in the garden making plaster casts of shoe prints. And lastly, my general feelings of never quite feeling like I fit in.

We also talked about my concerns about getting assessed. What if the answer is no, does that mean that I am just difficult. What is the answer is yes, what does that mean for me. Do I tell people, do I tell work, do I change things? I didn't register much of what he said back, apart from him telling me that all I need to do is take it one step at a time.

The control is with me, I can choose whether to progress to the next step of the assessment, and I can't also choose what (if anything) I share about the assessment

This morning I woke up with his words in my head. The control is with me, I can choose whether to progress to the next step of the assessment, and I can choose what (if anything) I share about the assessment. It is not on my records, and no one needs to know if I don't tell them.

So I decided to jump in and see what happens. My first appointment is booked for 2 weeks time. Now it is just a waiting game.

My next post is about how I felt the morning of the assessment.

Author image

About Helen Needham

Helen is the originator and founder of Me.Decoded. A passionate advocate for Neurodiversity, - diagnosed as autistic in her 40's after a lifetime of feeling like she was on the outside looking in.
  • England