Life on the Autism spectrum

Feeling 'different' & finding out about autism

Getting a diagnosis of autism varies in terms of the age at which children or adults are diagnosed, the diagnostic label given (e.g. autism, Asperger syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS) or high functioning autism) and how people are diagnosed. The process of getting a diagnosis varies as there is no universal diagnostic tool. A useful term in diagnosis is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as this covers all forms of the disorder.
The road to discovery: “Getting to the bottom of the problem
A few people we talked with had gone through childhood experiencing different sorts of difficulties. Duncan had been diagnosed with dyspraxia when he was eight years old but his parents felt there remained “unanswered questions” and he was eventually diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 16. A few people were diagnosed as young children and had gone through the education system in special schools or specialist units. Russell was diagnosed as a child after meeting a psychologist in a diabetes clinic waiting room.
Some people were originally diagnosed with other conditions such as OCD, anxiety, schizophrenia and dyspraxia. Several of them, in their attempt to learn more about these conditions, had come across descriptions of Autism and Asperger syndrome and found that they explained many of the problems they had been experiencing.
“My aunt sent some stuff about Asperger's”
The recognition by other, non-medical people - family friends, relatives, school or college staff - that the person may be on the spectrum was striking. People talked about receiving newspaper articles or leaflets from friends or family members, or a work colleague suggesting they may be autistic. The leader of a psychotherapy group suggested to John that he might be on the autism spectrum. John L realised once his nephew was diagnosed and he had been told for years his nephew was just like John L had been growing up. Paul I got thinking after he realised he felt “like a resident” when working as a care worker in a residential home with learning disabled people.
The internet allowed many people access to information and descriptions of autism which helped them in their search for answers. Laurie suspected her son was autistic, started reading about it and realised that what she was reading was “incredibly similar” to her, so decided to seek a diagnosis for herself.

Some people were diagnosed after having difficulties at work. One man was facing a criminal trial while Debbie was badly bullied at work and was threatened with a disciplinary procedure.

Last reviewed July 2016.
Last updated July 2016.

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