I have had inklings that I may be on the spectrum since my early 20s. Due to childhood trauma much of my experience was obfuscated by symptoms of C-PTSD. This is actually very common.
Early therapy sessions meant to address depression and anxiety when I was 21 suggested that I had ADHD (which also may be true, and tends to be comorbid with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)). I was unable to financially access services long-term. I tried to get counseling after I moved to Seattle at age 26. I was told that if my counselor made diagnoses, Borderline Personality Disorder might be a good fit. I had to abruptly stop going to sessions with her, again due to finances. At age 31 I tried to get a referral to University of Washington's Autism Center for a diagnosis through a brand new primary care provider. She highly recommended an SSRI for my anxiety and suggested we reassess later. Back in November of 2018, at age 35, I started to realize that there were things about myself that still didn't make sense and were not made better off from anxiety medication or my understanding of C-PTSD. I tried again to get an appointment at UW but was put off by their requirement to provide a family member who remembered me from ages 0-5 to get an "accurate assessment." Neither of my parents are available to me at this point in my life.
Why else has it taken me this long to seek an official diagnosis? "Women" are often overlooked for possibilities on the spectrum and misdiagnosed with Bipolar or Borderline Personality Disorder. Until recently ASD was considered an exclusively male disorder. Professionals are just now beginning to piece together the behavioral distinctions between men and women with ASD in order to ascertain a more clear picture of the spectrum. I have also been masking well and using alcohol and weed to feel and look normal. This is a common coping mechanism for many on the spectrum so much so that there is an unofficial nickname for the condition of self-medicating with ASD: Alco-tism.
The more I interact with other folks on the spectrum, the more I read about it, the more I am certain that I will get a positive diagnosis. The executive dysfunction, constant social anxiety, rigidity, very well hidden (maybe not so well hidden, I don't know) meltdowns, gullibility and tendency to take things literally, partial facial blindness, synesthesia, sensory sensitivity, stimming, etc. , etc., etc., all create a map of an experience that is hard to deny.
What will diagnosis bring? I understand this is an expensive ask and diagnosis is not guaranteed. Diagnosis (or not) will answer questions I've had for a long time, and has the potential to bring peace of mind and hopefully more resources that are specific to my needs in regard to school, housing, mental health, and jobs.
I have asked other friends who have been recently diagnosed about their experience and I believe that Dr. Ballard is just as qualified as UW's Autism Center to make the assessment. It is closer to home and I don't have to beg to be taken seriously due to my lack of parental/adult observation.
I cannot thank you enough in advance for any help you may be able to contribute.
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