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.

"I can't" is an important phrase



anonymous asked:

… I think it’s more empowering to say “I decided to stop” than to say “I can’t”. It’s OK to stop when there’s still a tiny chance that you might have been able to succeed.

realsocialskills answered

There are different reasons why people decide to stop doing things.

One reason is that they reach the conclusion that they probably aren’t capable of doing the thing. Probably 

That’s different than reaching the conclusion that they don’t want to do it, or that it’s not worth doing, or that they’d rather do something else.

Actually this reminds me of something I’ve seen - often disabled kids who can’t do something will pretend that they’re refusing to do the thing. And that they’re refusing to do the thing on purpose in order to provoke the teachers. When everyone involved thinks that’s what’s happening, things can get really bad really quickly.

(Particularly if the thing is something like a kid going nonverbal and pretending that they’re refusing to speak and are just making animal noises to be rude).

Inability to do things is real, and it’s important for people to know their limits and take them seriously.

Acknowledging limits makes it much more possible to do things than pretending not to have any.

Ignoring reality isn’t empowering.

And it’s legitimate to say “I can’t” when what you mean is “it’s possible that I might technically be able to do it, but it’s risky and dangerous, and I couldn’t function if I took that kind of risk routinely”.

(This is in fact a meaning of “can’t” used by people without disabilities all the time.)

matchbook-stories said:

the bolded—i have seen this happen SO MANY TIMES. kids with undiagnosed disabilities who become disruptive during reading time and are assumed to be bratty (i have been guilty of this too) and then like a year later somebody FINALLY figures out that the problem was that the kid had a disability that made it really hard for them to read, the whole time. or who would run around and knock things over and make a lot of noise, and then later it turns out they have chronic pain or sensory or nerve issues that make it hard for them to sit still. et cetera. so many times.

realsocialskills said:

This happens a lot with kids who *are* diagnosed, too. Kids learn that being perceived as obnoxious and defiant is better than being perceived as (the only good term I can think of for this is a slur.)

Because, like, for instance, if you’re autistic and can sort of pass and can cover all your impairments by appearing defiant, then you’re ~so high functioning~ and ~just need to learn to apply yourself more~ and ~of course bright kids will have trouble socially~. And it’s awful and you get in trouble a lot, but it does afford some level of protection.

If you are openly impaired in all the same ways, that can lead to ~well maybe he needs a more structured environment~, and ~I’m not trained to accommodate her needs~ and ~there’s an intensive therapy for that~.

Of course, being perceived as defiant is also dangerous, but it’s sometimes much less dangerous than being perceived as disabled.