The simple answer is that an autism diagnosis will make a massive difference – just maybe not in the way think.
What interests our psychologists the most is not the difference a diagnosis makes in terms of practical support at school, work or home, but the difference it makes to the person in how they feel about themselves.
Struggling to fit in
We have all experienced times in our life when we have struggled to fit in or know where we are heading and for most of us, this comes and goes. For people with autism, however, this seems to be more of a constant. And, boy, that takes its toll on mental health.
What we hear from our clients are stories of erratic behaviour or impulsive decision-making. This, we think, is the outcome of not really knowing who you are. If you don’t know what you like and don’t like, how can you behave in a consistent and fulfilling way?
Correcting an incorrect diagnosis
Our clients tell us that they feel “different” and they have often spent many years searching for an explanation for this. Sadly, in their quest for this, many have been incorrectly diagnosed with serious mental health conditions, like bipolar disorder and psychosis.
Some will challenge these diagnoses, because they don’t come even close to explaining what life is like for them. They continue to feel lost and unsure of their identity.
This is how an autism diagnosis makes a difference. It binds all the part of the person together and makes them feel complete. We always say that knowledge is power, and if you understand yourself and why you do the things you do, you are much better equipped for everyday life.
Life before and after a diagnosis
Our clients often tell us they have always felt like something is “wrong” with them and that a diagnosis removes these feelings of being defective, inadequate and incompetent. They become more comfortable in their own skin, work out where they belong and can finally be themselves. The diagnosis is described as a “relief”, and as a “key” to the rest of their life.
Whether you start this journey at three or 63 years of age, we believe you will benefit psychologically from a diagnosis. Obviously though, the earlier you do it, the better. This way we build resilient people who love and accept themselves rather than creating a person who is relentlessly hard on themselves.