Hello and welcome to my first post on my blog! And thank you for taking a look. I thought the based place to start is how I found out I am autistic in my mid-twenties. As many people are diagnosed in childhood. Not for me! Here is one of many stories of discovering you are autistic as an adult. It’s a rather long-winded story, so I’ll try and keep it brief (as I can) during this post.
Now, you may be wondering who told me I was autistic? Or what medical professional did I see who brought up autism? Well, in my case nobody, I worked it out for myself!
First, let’s go back to a miserably cold day in December 2018. I had been freezing myself outside for the enjoyment of others, socialising for about 14 hours straight, and I was mentally drained. I wanted to leave early, but at this event, it wasn’t an option. Once I was able to leave and go home finally, I collapsed on the bed, and a random thought popped into my head “I swear only autistic people hate socialising this much?”.
“Wait……am I autistic?” feeling confused about this idea, I put trust into my old friend google. At first, I was only coming across websites that lack substance. Where they had clearly just copied and pasted the basics from a textbook. Without explaining how autism presents in the real world. Unknown to me at the time, these webpages were based on stereotypical views of autism. So I couldn’t relate to them. There was the odd trait where I identified with, but the majority of them did not fit with my personality.
You would think I’d give up my search at this point. However, intuition was telling me to keep researching. I don’t know why, but I just felt I had to find out more. Until I was sure one way or the other about being autistic. This turned into months of obsessively researching everything and anything about autism. It took up the vast majority of my spare time. To start with, I wasn’t finding much information that could help me answer my questions. However, that all changed one evening.
I took my search to youtube, initially, I wasn’t finding the videos particularly helpful. Until a video caught my eye. It was about women and girls on the spectrum. I thought to myself “Oh, this is interesting, I’ve never seen anything about autistic females”.
Within the first few minutes of watching that video, my life had changed forever. I knew. I just knew. The speaker was describing my thought processes so accurately, it is as if he had watched my entire childhood and was providing the world with an insight into the “psychology of Sarah”. He wasn’t, he was talking about autistic women.
I didn’t tell anybody for months as I was not sure how they would take it. I didn’t know even how to bring it up. But I continued looking at more resources on autistic females. It just further confirmed to me that I have always been autistic, but I just didn’t know it for the majority of my life.
Eventually, I did open up to my family after a few months of knowing about my autism. At first, they were sceptical, mainly because they thought I was autistic as a child. I was assessed for autism, but it came back negative (that’s a whole story in itself, that I will save for another time). Once I showed them the videos about autistic women, they agreed that I am autistic. Particularly my mum. So then the process of getting diagnosed begun.
We considered many options about where to get my diagnosis. I did have a pathological fear that the people assessing would misunderstand the female presentation of autism (as countless medical/educational professionals had completely missed it in me across my lifespan). So we decided to go to a specialist centre who understood autism in females.
A few months after self-referring, I had a six-hour assessment. Which officially confirmed what I already knew. It was music to my ears when they said “Yes Sarah, you were right” and confirmed the diagnosis I should have had years ago.
Many people ask me how I felt when I got my diagnosis. Honestly, relief, but exhausted from the diagnosis process. Having to do endless tests and go through your life story all day is extremely tiring. However, it was worth it. I am so happy that I finally understand why I wasn’t normal or why I never really fitted in. I sensed I was not like all the other girls growing up…..but I didn’t know why.
I can now make complete sense of challenges I have experienced that I couldn’t before. I now know that the struggles I faced were not just “everyday life” and that they were completely legitimate. Before I just felt I was terrible at “adulting” and lazy to some extent.
Discovering I am autistic at this point in my life is definitely a journey. I think that is the case for most adults finding out about their autism later on in life. I am just so happy that I discovered it this year and that it is better late than never to find out you are autistic.