To prepare for my evaluation I had spent nearly two months searching through my memories, talking to people from my past, and writing things down. Mostly I was looking through the lens of likely being Autistic, but I was aware that there could potentially be another explanation that I hadn’t considered or didn’t know about.
I also understood that I might not be diagnosable even if I was actually Autistic. After all, I have recently been supported enough to arrange my life in such a way that I have minimal difficulties – especially compared to how it sometimes was in my past – and section D of the DSM-V reads:
D. Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.
So, in order to get an official diagnosis, one has to currently experience a significant, according to the evaluator, impairment in at least one of those areas.
I did not make a separate list for section D in my notebook. I instead included current examples that regularly caused impairment for me in my lists under the other criteria sections – dividing each of those lists into “past issues” and “current issues” for more clarity.
I had many mixed feelings during this time. Some days, primarily those days when I functioned more easily, I was convinced that I’d just be told that I was faking it all. Then all the other horrible labels from my life would be applied to me again with renewed vigor and they’d probably be true – an overwhelming prospect to consider.
Other days, the days when I was more obviously Autistic, I was convinced that there was no way I could possibly not get an autism diagnosis. Surely it was obvious and would be obvious to the doctor too!
Beyond any of that, I desperately wanted an answer and hoped that I was correct about being Autistic simply because it fit so well and explained everything so perfectly.
But, when it came down to it, I was trying to find the truth about myself.
As a Quaker, the truth had to, did, and does matter more to me than an autism diagnosis does. My feelings often got in the way of remembering that, so I made certain to remind myself frequently.
During the time of silence the weekend before my initial intake appointment, I wrote this in my journal:
I need to seek the truth and trust that the answer will fit. Be very careful to be honest with myself and Dr. A— too. Relax and trust the process of finding the truth.
Relaxing was, of course, infinitely easier said or written than done. I know folks who have very likely been misdiagnosed as not being Autistic. I know that the process is also somewhat subjective because human beings and their opinions and fallibilities are involved. I understand being skeptical and wary of needing to be judged as “autistic enough” by a, very likely, neurotypical doctor.
But, personally, I needed an official confirmation for multiple reasons. I wrote out just a few of them when I was first trying to decide if I really truly needed that official confirmation:
- I’m a writer and my neurology would be helpful to be aware of so that I can write authentically.
- I would almost certainly need accommodations if I ever needed to get a “regular” full-time job outside of the home again or if anything happened to Husband.
- To confirm my suspicion that autism explains the myriad/numerous difficulties I’ve had throughout my life.
Another important aspect I had to keep in mind was my mental health. The fact was that I had to try my very best to trust the process and system in order to protect my mental health. Otherwise I’m certain that I wouldn’t have been able to handle the stress and uncertainty, which were almost unbearable as it was.
I also had to carefully act with integrity while seeking the truth in order to remain consistent within my beliefs and values.
*I am in the process of writing a future post about the various necessary skills, accesses, and even privileges involved in setting up an evaluation. Not everyone is in the position of being able to manage reasonably well without an immediate diagnosis and many of those people are also not able to pursue an evaluation in the first place for various reasons.