adult diagnosis

adult autism diagnosis when you have learned to cover

Anonymous said to :

I’ve suspected that I was autistic for a long time, as has a parent of mine who has worked extensively with autistic kids, but I was in a severely under-diagnosed demographic, still am, and on top of that by necessity a lot of my more overtly autistic behaviors have been covered up, compensated for, or eliminated so I could get by.

I know I’m probably still autistic, I mean you can’t get rid of all of it and I know there are definitely things going on still, but I’m afraid they won’t believe me.

realsocialskills said:

They might not believe you. I’m not going to lie and tell you that you will definitely be believed.

That said, the current diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5 do account for this somewhat:

Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).

Whether you’ll be believed is somewhat unpredictable, and a matter of luck. Not all doctors use the new criteria, and a lot of doctors believe things about autism that aren’t particularly related to the diagnostic standards.

(Eg: some doctors think that girls can’t be autistic, even though there have been diagnosed girls as long as the diagnosis has existed. Or that people who can talk, hold down a job, and have friends can’t be autistic. Or any number of other stereotypes).

I don’t know what to tell you about how to find a doctor who will take the new diagnostic standards seriously. They definitely exist, but I don’t know any reliable way to identify them.

If you have documentation of autistic traits in childhood, that is likely to be helpful. (Eg: school records, baby book, etc.)

tl;dr Adult autistic diagnosis in theory can take into account the fact that coping skills can mask symptoms. In practice, whether or not you find someone who will take that seriously is largely a matter of luck.

on figuring out what's wrong

I don’t know what exactly is wrong with me (as a child, i was forbidden to even mention mental health or autism, and now it’s prolly too late to bother). But I find a lot of useful and relatable in this blog (that was thanks). Thing is, I end up just cutting all connections with society (aside from parents). Not leaving my home, being happy only in solitude. But I still need to provide for myself, so I do some coding. Except often I just can’t force myself to work for unknown reason. Any advice?
realsocialskills said:
First of all, it’s not too late to bother. Understanding yourself better is always helpful. It’s a lot easier to manage unusual things about yourself if you have the right words to describe them. Among other things, having the right words allows you to connect with others like you and learn about things that work for them.
Also, some mental health or neurological issues are treatable, even in adulthood. (For instance, many adults with depression, ADHD or OCD find that medication improves their lives).
Most of us spend most of our lives as adults. This stuff doesn’t go away when we grow up, and it doesn’t stop mattering, either. So - it’s not too late, and if you think that you have a mental health or neurological condition, it is worth taking that seriously, whether or not you pursue formal diagnosis or medical treatment.
I can’t tell you why you’re having trouble working. There could be any number of reasons. Some include:
Do you like your work?
  • If your work requires a lot of intense focus, and you find it intensely dull, it’s likely to be hard to make yourself do it, particularly if no one else is around
  • If you’re so bored with your work that you regularly can’t force yourself to do it, it’s probably time to start trying to find different work
  • Which might still be coding if that’s your skillset - not all programming projects are the same
  • There’s only so long you can work against yourself by brute force

Is being alone all the time bad for your work?

  • Some people need to work with or alongside other people in order to get stuff done consistently
  • Not everyone is like this, but some people are, even many people who enjoy solitude
  • If that’s part of your problem, it might be important to work on ways to have company that you can stand
  • This could be virtual, like one person you’re on IM with while you code
  • Or physical, like working out of an office or hackerspace
  • It doesn’t necessarily need to be intensely social
  • This might not be a problem you have, but it is a problem some people have

Are you depressed?

  • If being unable to force yourself to code is a new problem, it’s possible that you’re depressed
  • Particularly if you’re also *generally* disinterested in most things you used to like
  • For some people, depression is a treatable medical problem
  • If that sounds likely to be part of your problem, and if you can go to a doctor safely, it might be worth bringing up the possibility that you’re depressed

Do you need better cognitive cues for work?

  • For some people who work alone from home, it can be really hard to *tell* when you should be working
  • I have this problem and I don’t have a great solution to it, so I’m not sure how much I can suggest
  • For some people, making a schedule helps
  • For some people, always working early in the day helps
  • For some people, using LeechBlock makes it easier to focus
  • Some people find that HabitRPG helps them to keep track of tasks and stay motivated

Are you ok physically?

  • It’s hard to work when you feel horrible physically
  • And a lot of neurodivergent people have trouble telling when something is wrong physically
  • Do you eat enough? Do you get your nutritional needs met? Going without sufficient protein or iron can quickly make everything difficult.
  • Do you remember to drink liquids?
  • Are you in pain?
  • Is your working environment comfortable? (eg: are the lights bothering you? is your chair painful to sit in? is your keyboard at a comfortable or uncomfortable height?)

[GJ] Great Post About ASD Diagnostic Process!

girljanitor:

realsocialskills:

I don’t really know how to say this the best way, but apparently I “might” have Aspergers. I had been having some trouble at college, and the woman we spoke to at disabilities services said that “clearly, something isn’t connecting here.” But instead of getting me diagnosed or anything, everyone just kind of ignored it after that? The whole thing was really confusing. I don’t want to claim disability if I don’t have one, but I might have one, but I might not. I just don’t really know what to do
realsocialskills said:
That’s a hard place to be. It can be really hard when you think you might have a disability but you’re not sure. Especially when it’s a developmental disability and you are only starting to realize in adulthood that you might have it.
Several things I think help in this situation:
Take the problems you are having seriously:
  • You are having trouble, and that matters
  • You are not faking it
  • You are not being appropriative
  • It’s ok not to be sure exactly what’s going on
  • It’s important to take your needs seriously and to work on figuring out what would help
  • Keep in mind that whatever is going on, your needs matter
Whether or not you’re autistic, things written by and for autistic people might help you:
  • It’s ok to use them whether or not you’re autistic
  • The point is to do things that help you understand yourself and function well in the world, and that will involve learning from a lot of people
  • People with different kinds of disabilities and differences have substantially overlapping experiences, and it’s ok and important to learn from one another’s communities 
  • One thing that might be particularly helpful is a guide the Autistic Self Advocacy Network made called Navigating College. It has a lot of really helpful practical suggestions
  • It’s probably a good idea to look at stuff written by and for people with other kinds of disabilities too (particularly ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and depression, but a surprising number of things end up being helpful to know about cross-disability)

It helps to identify specific things you’re having trouble with, for instance:

  • Are you having trouble reading?
  • Are you having trouble paying attention?
  • Do you get stuck trying to figure out what you should be doing?
  • Are you forgetting to eat?
  • Are you having sensory problems?
  • Is handwriting difficult for you?
  • Are you having trouble speaking, or processing speech quickly enough to participate in conversations?
  • Is it hard for you to navigate and get yourself to where you need to be?
  • Do you have problems planning projects?
  • Other things?

It’s helpful to identify the specific things you’re having trouble with, for several reasons:

  • There is a lot that people know about how to help with specific problems.
  • For instance, if reading is an issue for you, changing the font, using audio books, or using ebooks rather than print books might help.
  • Knowing a diagnostic label can be very helpful, especially in identifying people similar to you who might understand
  • But it’s even more important to figure out what you’re having trouble with in practical terms, and what can help
  • The tests doctors and specialists use to diagnose learning disabilities tend to paint a very broad brush, and they don’t necessarily give you great information on what exactly is going on or what would help
  • The more specific you can be about what’s going on, the more likely it is that people will be able to help you

If you’re in college, seeking formal evaluation and diagnosis is probably a good idea:

  • It is far easier to get schools to make accommodations if you have a diagnosis
  • There are a lot of fairly standard modifications that schools are used to making, but which they are generally only willing to make if a doctor recommends that they do so
  • And whether or not you disclose to individual professors is still your choice
  • There are downsides to diagnosis, but the advantages probably outweigh them in your situation

Don’t wait for diagnosis, though:

  • Diagnosis is a tool, not a solution
  • It can help you, but it won’t make things go away
  • There are problems you can solve now
  • And diagnosis is more helpful if you already know some things that would help you, because often doctors won’t think to put things in their report unless you suggest them
  • Working on living with a disability or even just a difference is a lifelong process.
  • And ultimately, you have to figure out for yourself how to manage that, and you shouldn’t wait for anyone’s permission

Don’t worry about being appropraitive or falsely claiming disability:

  • Whatever is going on, your problems are real and you should take them seriously
  • It’s ok to suspect that you might have an autism spectrum disorder and be wrong; that doesn’t hurt anyone
  • Figuring things out has to start somewhere, and it’s ok if you have to think through several possibilities to get the right words for yourself
  • The important thing is that you figure out what is going on and what can help you
  • That can be really difficult and scary, but it also makes life a lot better

Good luck. You’re in a scary place, but it’s possible to figure things out and get through this. You will be ok.

girljanitor said:

I’m so happy to see this post on my dash right now.

ALL of this is so good and important, but especially the bolded!!!! The most important part of any diagnostic process, whether entirely self-directed or with the help of a community, medical professionals or social workers, is the way you think about yourself and your own processes of living.

I think something that gets lost when people discuss diagnosis is that every diagnostic process is at least partially self-directed. If you don’t tell the doctor your symptoms, the process can’t get started anyways.

I agree that paper diagnosis could be an important tool for this student, because navigating college is difficult for everyone; doubly so for people with disabilities, and TRIPLY so for people with undiagnosed disabilities!!! Whether you decide to use self-help and community resources or to go through the diagnostic process with a psychiatrist or psychologist, understanding and exploring what kinds of changes could maximize your success and happiness will be very valuable.

As an addendum: I work in Disability Services at a college, and if anyone has any questions about what kind of accommodations are usually available and what kind of documentation is required to receive them, I’m always willing to answer them!