I am in my mid 30s and only recently found out officially that I have got high functioning autism (Asperger’s Syndrome).
Before the Diagnosis
Although I knew I was different to most people all of my life I had no idea why. I had not even heard of the word Asperger’s and knew very little about autism until five years ago. When I was studying for my Master’s Degree in computer security I had heard about Gary Mckinnon from studying about his case for a law module I was doing. The more I read about him the more I realised there were many similarities that we shared. Although I suspected there was a slight chance I had Asperger’s I just brushed it aside until a couple of years later.
After my Master’s degree I spent a year doing temporary jobs such as being a postman and being a supply lecturer at a local college. I then went on to become a Learning Support Assistant. It was in this role, where I supported students with a range of disabilities and learning difficulties (including Asperger’s), where I realised that I probably had Apserger’s. It seemed the more I learnt and read about it the more the difficulties were also applicable to me.
I would have probably left it at this and just gone on through life knowing there was a chance that I had Asperger’s but my wife wanted answers so I went down the road of being diagnosed.
The whole process took about two and a half years. Most of this time was waiting for things to happen, which is very difficult when you have this kind of disability.
The first step was for me to complete questionnaires myself and analyse the answers to see if I believed I had Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). In doing this I was scoring so high that there was almost no doubt that I had AS. But the more that I went through the process the more I wanted to find out for certain if this was my disability or if I had something similar or different such as shyness or social difficulties not relating to AS.
The next step was to see my GP (which is a very rare thing for me to do as I usually manage one visit a decade). I went along with my wife, who I needed for the support and then talked to the doctor for a long time and filled out questionnaires at home. I went for a second visit where she told me that I was being referred to a specialist in the field and then it was a waiting game. I knew, as an adult, I was lucky that I was able to get a diagnosis on the NHS and I also knew that I would be waiting a long time for answers.
It took almost two years to be seen by the specialist clinical psychologist who specialised in diagnosing adults with AS/high functioning autism. This process took a few months from start to finish and involved very lengthy interviews with myself, wife, parents and siblings and viewing information such as school reports, qualification certificates and medical history. After all of this I finally got an answer and found out that I am high functioning autistic and I have got AS. Which I believe they are now interchangeable terms for the same thing.
The news took some time to sink in and I am still taking time to get used to it all. Before creating this website I have told very few people about this and I know I have to let more people know about it.