Do I genuinely have a form of high-functioning autism? Do I have a “right” to term myself autistic without an official diagnosis? These are some of the questions that take over my mind every now and then. My GP and psychologist agree that it’s likely, my sister concurs, and it would a lot of my life make sense. However, going to the doctor with questions about it while suffering from the extensive list of physical conditions that lupus has given me, along with mental health issues, means that many doctors must be thinking “This guy is an utter hypochondriac, a WebMD/Dr. Google-self-diagnoser!” I don’t know if I can accurately say I haven an autism disorder without more medical input, but whenever I pursue it, doctors say to me “Oh, you’re socializing fine, you’re talking to me right now” as though that’s it. I’m an anatomist, and was the one who worked out that my physical health issues were a connective tissue disorder – doctors still thought it was long shot until I begged for tests and here we are! – and I think that when I do display knowledge beyond Average Joe, they think I’ve been Googling and got the wrong idea rather than having some clinical knowledge. I’m not saying I know more than the doctors, but as anyone with a chronic disease will know, being fobbed off by them is frequent, and after being fobbed off for the six or seven years it took me to get the lupus diagnosis (as I say, with my own input; had I not suggested connective tissue disease myself, I don’t know how long it would have taken), I’ve learned that my instincts are worth something.
I’ll write another post about all the things that I believe contribute to the idea of a form of high-functioning autism, otherwise we’d be here all day! But again I’m just thinking I’m stuck. People say to me “what is your motivation in seeking a diagnosis?” I don’t have any extra needs, really, and God knows I have enough diagnoses for one person, but I seek the validation. If I don’t have it, and it’s just my idiosyncrasies, fair enough, but I need to know. If I do have it, probably nothing will change, but I will know, and will feel better being able to say to people that I’m not just an awkward socializer and that I’m not actually being rude. The thing is, socializing isn’t as bad for me as for others, and so anyone I mention it to says without fail “I’d never think you had something like that; you speak so well!” I manage well one-on-one, and for this reason, people then think I have no social issues whatsoever.
I don’t know. Am I just reading too much into things? Yet I know that many autistic people have self-diagnosed, and that it’s difficult to get an official diagnosis especially as an adult. There is a drop-in here in my city for people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, but I haven’t worked up the courage to go yet. Will I be welcome without a formal diagnosis? I don’t know why a diagnosis is so important to me, but I just don’t feel right saying to people I have a disorder without knowing for sure; self-diagnosers can be wrong and often are! I don’t know. Hopefully I can pluck up the courage to go to the drop-in for advice. Whether the answer is yes or no, I just feel I need the validation either way.