I’ve been trying recently to get more involved with the autistic community online, and came across across AutisticallySarah.Wordpress.com. I’ve been enjoying many of her posts, but this one especially inspired the post you’re about to read! She laid out the time line of her assessment so well, I’m just stealing it but making it about my own experience, with her permission of course!
The FormsI had been referred for my assessment by my GP, so I only filled out a couple of forms about social and developmental issues I had as a child, at the actual assessment. My mum, who came with me because I was told I needed to have someone there who had known me well for the majority of my life, filled out most of it. A lot of it was about me as a baby and toddler, so I couldn’t have done it myself. I waited almost 3 years for my assessment, so I’m glad I got to fill things out there on the day rather than having to remember what I’d been asked years before.
The Assessment BeginsMy mum and I were taken into a room by the man who would be doing the assessment, and he explained to us how long it would take, the types of things he’d be asking, and that I’d get my diagnosis that day. He really put me at ease, he explained everything without implication or expectations of me knowing what would happen, and I really appreciated that.
Life HistoryWe spent hours going through what I was like as a baby, how I developed, what I was like during childhood, as a teenager etc.
There were a few points when the assessor gave me a sort of ‘look’ that made me pretty sure I’d be getting a diagnosis. My mum mentioning that as a toddler I preferred playing alone, and as a child I exclusively cared about Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings. He also asked me early on to make eye contact with him, which I did but told him I don’t enjoy at all.
This is where my assessment differs from many I’ve read about, because that was the whole thing. Once my mum had talked about my childhood, I was asked about the things I found difficult as a teenager, things I struggle with now and some questions that seemed a bit pointless at the time, such as how I ended up getting with my boyfriend, but i can see the relevance now. (Rich has to full on old fashioned ask me to be his girlfriend, we’re both autistic, had both been flirting, and didn’t realise the other was flirting.)
DiagnosisOnce we were done, the assessor read through everything he had written down during the several hours we were there. After finishing reading, he told me “You are definitely on the autistic spectrum” and I immediately just felt so relieved.
He explained more about what would happen, but I kind of zoned out a bit. I’d spent my entire life wondering what was ‘wrong’ with me, and after a couple of hours chatting to some guy I had confirmation that there’s nothing ‘wrong’, just different.
We left with me practically feeling like a whole new person. A few days later I got a letter through the post confirming that I have a diagnosis of ‘autism spectrum disorder’ as well as some leaflets for local groups and meet ups for autistic people. I haven’t utilised any of these yet, I’m only just getting comfortable with telling people I’m autistic, but I’m definitely going to attend one at some point soon.
So yeah, that’s how it happened for me! It seemed like such a mysterious process to me before I went, and that made me super anxious as the day came up, but I needn’t have worried! Everyone’s experience is of course different, but this one was mine!