Must try harder: why my school reports count in my AS diagnosis
I am currently in limbo. Yes, I’m still (still!) waiting to be told whether or not the medical establishment, as personified by my local mental health team, recognises that I have Asperger’s. I’m in what I’m choosing to call ‘Stage Four’ (Stage 1: getting past the GP; Stage 2: initial psych assessment; Stage 3: facepalm-inducing interview). Stage 4 involves waiting, then waiting some more, for the psychologist to phone your parents. Oh, and I had to bring in my school reports. Yes, you read that right: to be assessed for Asperger’s as a 37-year-old woman, you have to give them your school reports from age 3 to 17, and then they call your mother.
I’m being facetious here, obviously (of course I understand why they want to know about my childhood), but it does feel slightly ridiculous. Though I did enjoy the moment when I told my wife about the school reports and she said, hilariously, “Was the fact that you still have all your school reports, and know where they are, part of the assessment?” (she may be on to something there).
Why I didn’t let getting kicked out of uni ruin my life
Or, Might a childhood diagnosis of Asperger’s have been self-limiting?
Two conversations I had last weekend have made me wonder how my life might have been different had I been diagnosed with Asperger’s as a child. A good friend told me how much respect she had for the things I’ve achieved in my life, despite the challenges AS (Asperger’s Syndrome) brings; and my parents wanted to know how a diagnosis might help someone – child or adult – with AS.
Of course, it’s a moot point for me. According to my research, Asperger’s wasn’t a diagnosable condition until 1992, when I was already into my teens, and from what I’ve read it seems that the rate of female diagnoses lagged far behind that of boys (and still does; whether that’s because it’s more prevalent among boys, or less detectable in girls – who present differently – is still being researched). But, had the condition been identified sooner, and had someone recognised my traits, how might a diagnosis have impacted on my life?
Why you really shouldn’t throw me the ball
I’ve been thinking about what I can tell you about Asperger’s. Quite a few of you have said you really don’t know all that much about it (thank you for saying so, and for being curious!). Asperger’s is a neurodevelopmental condition, which the National Autistic Society describes as “a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people”. It can be tricky (and long!) to explain exactly what this means, because Asperger’s is a spectrum disorder that can affect people differently (it’s been said that if you’ve met one person with Asperger’s, you’ve met… one person with Asperger’s).
According to all the reading I’ve done, it’s increasingly being recognised that the condition presents differently in females than in males, too (which probably partly explains why it took me so long to work out that I had it). So I’m going to start by telling you the bit I really know about: what Asperger’s means for me.