women

Adult Autism (ASD) Assessment

On 8th December 2017 I attended a private practice in my hometown, for an adult autism assessment and I thought I’d share with you how it went and what happened.

Firstly, I shall briefly explain how to get an NHS assessment if you think you may be on the Autistic Spectrum. The first port of call is your General Practitioner (GP). I spoke to my GP about my concerns and he asked me to go home, write down the things about myself that make me think I may be autistic, give it to him and he will then decide if what I’ve written warrants a referral for a diagnostic assessment.

Unfortunately for me and others in my area, our NHS autism clinic has closed, so referrals are now being sent to a local private clinic instead and they take on NHS patients through a GP referral. I’m not sure if that’s a nationwide issue (I’d guess that it may well be) so always ask your GP first – I had to signpost my GP to a referral service myself and find one that would take NHS referrals.

Obviously, my GP thought I made a good enough case for myself, because the next thing I know, I get a phonecall from a private clinic asking me if I would like to book my ASD assessment. A few days later I get 3 emails containing self-assessment questionnaires to fill in online. I wrote quite a lot of detail in those, as I am much better at writing about myself than talking about myself in person – clearly!

The 8th December came and my anxiety was going nuts. I had terrible stomach symptoms (my tummy tells me I’m anxious before I realise how I’m feeling) and sleeping was difficult the night before. I get to my appointment and the first thing I notice is how horribly bright and colourful the waiting room was. Hideous bright lights and yellow cushions. The sofa was pretty cool in that it was a button back chesterfield with dark coloured patchwork fabric on it. That bit, I did like!

So, we go upstairs with my Psychologist and I take my Mum in with me – after all, she knows me better than I know myself (and can remember what I was like when I was a toddler) which is apparently very helpful during an adult diagnosis, as ASD symptoms are easier to identify in children. I think the first part of the assessment was the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADIR) and My Mum told some embarrassing stories about me – like sitting in front of the tv as a baby, listening to classical music – crying!

Once we’d talked about my childhood, my Mum was asked to leave and we then started on the ADOS-2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and what I’d call ‘childrens tests’ – things like reading a book out loud, that didn’t have any words in it – so describing the story of pictures (which I found incredibly difficult!) and then I had to make up a story featuring random items from a plastic bag of toys and random things. I passed on that one as I couldn’t find a link to any of the items and couldn’t create a story – I have an absolutely useless imagination!!!

The Psychologist told me that there were two other assessments she could do during my appointment; a personality test and a cognitive test. But, as she’d already learned about me doing a degree, she agreed that I have no cognitive issues and I don’t have a personality disorder, so we skipped both of those tests. We talked a lot about my childhood and my teen years and not much about my life as an adult – although I thought it was pertinent to explain how I have not had a ‘proper job’ since I was made redundant from working part time with my Mum for a charity in 2010 and that I spend most of my time reading, researching and looking for things on ebay (and obsessively buying antiques for our Victorian home!)

The appointment was over before I knew it. The psychologist walked me downstairs and told me I’d get an appointment for the results of the assessment and it should last around an hour.

My results appointment is on 17th January 2018 – so, I have a SIX WEEK WAIT to find out if I’m on the Autistic Spectrum or not. Suffice to say, this will be the most tense 6 weeks. I really wish my appointment was sooner.. I feel like I’m in limbo right now. I’m watching lots of videos on Youtube of people who’ve had adult diagnoses and I just want to know if that may be me.

Of course, I will be writing up the results of my Adult Autism Assessment and am also considering starting a Youtube channel of my own to help raise awareness of ‘being different’ (I hate that term, but I AM different… I just don’t know HOW!)

If you need any information about Autism then have a look at the National Autistic Society website – it’s been a great help to me so far.

xx

 

Advertisements

The Great Unease

One thing I have learnt over the past 10 years since being diagnosed with a life-altering illness, is that I am yet to feel at ease with my life. There comes a time in your life, when you hit the big THREE-O and you’re supposed to have your shit together. Well, I thought I had my shit together; turns out, I haven’t.

You see, I’ve always been an old soul. I’ve always known I wanted to settle down, get married and have pets (never children) and while it seems I am on track with my life goals, I am still feeling the great unease surrounding who I am and what I bring to the world.

Since I was a young teenager, I’ve always wanted to be famous somehow. I wanted to sing, but stagefright put paid to that dream – likewise with acting (for which I was awarded an ‘exceptional’ from my year 8 Drama teacher) and performance anxiety has shrouded my life in many ways.

I’ve always had the fear of being like everyone else. When I was at school I made it my plan to stick out like a sore thumb – and was bullied because of it. But I was stoic in that I didn’t want to fit in and be like everyone else, so I took it and it made me strong.

Yet here I am at the age of thirty, wanting, in part, to be like everyone else. Not, in the sense of I want to be in a job I dislike, pay rent to a greedy landlord and have children drive me round the bend, but in the sense that I want to be a productive member of society. (You have no idea how much I hate myself for saying that!)

Living with an incurable, oftentimes debilitating illness means I am not a ‘productive’ member of society. I am unable to follow my career goals (of which I have had many, shot down in a blaze of smoke) and now I’m left with a sense of ‘now what?’

I felt so compelled by these feelings of unease that last year I enrolled onto a distance learning Degree in History and surprisingly to me, I’m doing very well on my first module (If I was studying at a brick uni, I would be at distinction level!) and I’m really enjoying spending time wisely, studying. I no longer felt like I was wasting away in my bedroom waiting for the weekend when I get to spend time with my partner of nearly 3 years.

However, I’m now nearing the end of my first module (of which there are 6 – one per year) and I’m finding myself twiddling my thumbs again. I’ve started the audiobook of the set book for my next module yet it doesn’t start until October.

People think being at home and ‘off work’ is a dream lifestyle. I won’t argue that it has its benefits – I can stay up as late as I want and wake up as late as I want, for example, but I’m also trapped inside 4 walls for 90% of my day and two thirds of the week. As an unworking woman, I do not have the funds to be galavanting around in a car (I can’t drive manual and cannot afford an automatic car) nor do I have the energy to do so.

I spend my days lying on my bed in various positions (shifting when the pain becomes too much to bear) and it’s demoralising. Seeing all those people on Instagram going places in life makes me feel uneasy. In the pit of my stomach I feel the longing to have a ‘normal life’ like all these people I watch every day.

But then, I have to remind myself, yet again, that I’m not normal. I do have an incurable illness and I will have it for the rest of my life. It’s really really hard to balance this unending feeling of disquiet in my soul, with the knowledge that I’m doing the best I can. I have an enquiring mind and I want to see the world – this is in complete competition with the fact that my body was not built the same way as my mind. My body is broken, but my mind is sharp.

How does one reconcile a life wanted, with the life given? How does one overcome the odds when they are all stacked against you? This is something my mind continues to wonder, while I lie here, in pain, day after day.

Millennials; Isn’t it time to grow up?

So, I was sat doing the usual daily scroll through Facebook this afternoon and it occurred to me how many memes there are making light of twenty-somethings and their failures…


But it wasn’t always like this. In the 1940s, at the age of twenty they were enlisted and sent off to war. They were MEN, fighting for this country, taking responsibility for their country and their family, often leaving their wives behind to work in the factories and fields.

In 2017, I am surrounded by men in their late twenties who simply refuse to grow up. They spend their wages on nights out, illicit substances, booze and then fall into their (private rented) bed with a takeaway. This happens regularly and they then sit down the pub and moan about how much debt they’re in, how awful their relationship is or how much they hate their job (in some cases, all three!)

And I’m sitting here thinking… Grow the fuck up! Take responsibility for the (terrible) choices you’ve made that have put you in the position you’re in now. If you hate your life so much, do something to make it better instead of burying your head in the sand (or by shoving coke up your nose) and hoping it’ll go away.

I’m no saint, of course. I’ve made some not-so-sensible decisions in my 30 years I’ve been alive, BUT I can say that I have made the best of a bad situation.

Through no fault of my own I still live with my parents. I was born with a disability that means I cannot support myself financially and as I live with my parents, I do have disposable income. However, I have not disposed of this income in the way I described above, for the main reason of knowing how hard my future will be when I can no longer rely on my parents.

At the age of 13 I was given £200 when my Grandma died. It went straight into a “car fund” that I set up for myself because I have always wanted to drive and be independent. The Car Fund grew, slowly and it has been used to buy myself a car.

I was in a nasty car accident at 19 and got a nice chunk of compensation. Of course I bought myself a new wardrobe, a flatscreen TV and a laptop. I went on to sell the TV and I still wear most of the clothes I bought back then (and they’re now falling apart!). I like to think that I’m careful with money and appreciate how lucky (or unlucky!) I have been to have what I have.

Others don’t seem so grateful. If anything, they appear like spoilt brats to me; they’re able bodied, able to earn thousands of pounds a year, yet due to bad decisions, they’re scraping by every month and continue to moan about it and posts memes on their Facebook making light of their seemingly miserable lives.

I am fully aware that I’m not perfect, but I can say I am an aware and authentic person who is trying to think about my future and plan for it.

I’ve been sensible with money and I have chosen a partner who is also good with money yet it wasn’t an accident – if I happened to get into a relationship with someone to find that they were terrible with money (like my own father is) I would run for the hills. According to an article in the Huffington Post money problems (and incompatible views on money) is one of the biggest factors in divorce in the modern age.

It’s not just about money though, I think it’s about maturity. It’s a known fact that men mature later than women, but I’ve also noticed the abundance of women in their twenties who still love Disney, still fantasize about finding their Disney Prince and refuse to grow up. It’s an epidemic. We are still behaving like children well into our twenties and thirties.

Millennials, isn’t it time you grew up?

She Said Yes; Part Two – Sterilised at 30. 

Earlier in the year my own GP said “no chance” when I first inquired about being sterilised. I left it a good few months, booked an appointment with a lady GP who dealt with my Mirena Coil and broached the question with her. She was resistant at first but relented when I pressed the issue – that was on 7th October.

Today, I received a call from the Gynaecology department at my local hospital asking if I can be available in 10 days time for an appointment regarding female sterilisation! I am over the moon!

Because this issue seems to be quite a taboo subject (and a growing number of women are choosing the childfree life) I have decided to document my experience of being sterilised at 30, so that it may give other young women the courage to stand up for what they want in life. It isn’t anyone else’s job to tell you whether or not you want kids, nor that you should live your life having to constantly worry about falling pregnant by accident because for people like me, who are sure about who they are and what they want, there ARE options to make sure we never get pregnant, full stop.

Follow me and follow my quest to be childfree and fabulous!