Women and Autism – How one woman’s letter to a psychologist finally helped her receive an ASD diagnosis after years of personal invalidation.

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This amazing letter was written by a woman who suspected that she may be on the Autism Spectrum, prior to meeting her psychologist for the first time. Here’s what she had to say.

“Dear Dr L—

I hope in this letter I can give you a more thorough explanation of how I feel, the way these feelings affect me and why I think a diagnosis and continued support would be beneficial to me.

I have an over-active mind and experience high anxiety.

I constantly see things at multiple levels, including thinking processes and analyse my existence, the meaning of life, the meaning of everything continually.

Nothing is taken for granted, simplified, or easy.

Everything is complex.

Being serious and matter-of-fact has caused me many problems and I have been told on numerous occasions that I come across as rude and/or abrupt.

Every year my work progress development report says that I would benefit from some kind of people management course, which to date has never happened.

Making friends or developing relationships has always been and still is very difficult for me.

As a child, I was convinced that I was away the day everyone decided who they would be friends with.

This has always been an area that has caused me confusion.

I still have a constant feeling that I am misplaced, isolated, overwhelmed, and have been plopped down in the wrong universe.

If I had friends, my tendency was to blindly follow wherever they went and to escape my own identity by taking on theirs.

I dressed like them, spoke like and adapted myself to his/her likes and dislikes.

I have had a couple of “friends” in my life for a very long time but I mostly talk to them online as I do not like leaving the comfort of my safe environment.

Even with people I know well I do not like being in their houses as my anxiety levels hit the roof.

I get agitated and uncomfortable not knowing what to say, what to do, if I’ve over stayed my welcome or would it be rude if I left now, have I stayed long enough.

This leads to seriously high stress levels, nasty thoughts in my head, sweating, increased heart rate and a sudden urgency to flee.

When I know I don’t have to be anywhere, talk to anyone, answer any calls, or leave the house, I can take a deep breath and relax.

Even something as simple as a self-imposed obligation, such as leaving the house to walk the dog can cause extreme anxiety.

It’s more than just going out into society; it’s all the steps that are involved in leaving–all the rules, routines, and norms.

Choices can be overwhelming: what to wear, to shower or not, what to eat, what time to be back, how to organize time, how to act outside the house….all these thoughts can pop up.

I struggle when I’m out with sounds, textures, smells and tastes, which in turn creates a sense of generalized anxiety and/or the sense that I am always unsafe or in pending danger, particularly in crowded public places.

There have been times in crowded places like shops where the confusion and anxiety has gotten so high that I have had to just say “I need to go” and have walked out and straight to the car to gather my thoughts and calm down.

Counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging, numbers brings me some ease and has been with me ever since I can remember.

Over the years I have sought out answers as to why I seemed to see the world differently than others, only to be told I’m an attention seeker, paranoid, hypochondriac, or too focused on diagnoses and labels.

My personhood was challenged on the sole basis that I “knew” I was different but couldn’t prove it to the world.

My personhood was further oppressed as I attempted to be and act like someone I’m not.

I have children diagnosed with ASD and am concerned that I am not doing the best for them due to my own inhibitions.

Still I question my place in the world, even more so now that my son has a diagnosis of ASD and I see so many similarities between what he’s going through and my own personal experiences.

How can I help them to adapt and learn when I don’t know myself how to deal with the situations that are causing them the most problems?

I would really benefit from help in learning to deal with my issues.

Now that I understand the Autism Spectrum and am convinced I am well within the spectrum, the hope is that I will get support and advice can benefit me and allow me to help my children.

My hope is that through diagnosis and the support that should follow; I will be able to work on the areas that I lack the necessary skills for dealing with society, in.

If I can get help for myself it will put me in a better position to guide and help my children.

Apologies for the lengthy explanation, I hope I have given you the information you were seeking. If not please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Amanda”

 

Amanda is sharing this letter in the hope that it may help other woman avoid some of the pain and confusion she’s experienced in her own life. Thank you so much for your willingness to help others Amanda ❤

 

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21 thoughts on “Women and Autism – How one woman’s letter to a psychologist finally helped her receive an ASD diagnosis after years of personal invalidation.

    1. It was painful to write at the time. I read it back now and see how far I have come and how I understand and know ME now. I have had a lot of support since diagnosis and the most positive thing to me is that I am the best advocate my children could ever have.

    2. Where I’m from, there’s no way that letter alone would have gotten me a diagnosis. It seems kind of vague and anyone with an anxiety disorder can relate to it. Was there anything else used to diagnose you?

      1. Hi the letter is not what got me the diagnosis it was what I was asked to write as part of their screening process to decide if I should be assessed. The letter went with my referral and report from community mental health team and questionnaire filled in by my GP. I was then assessed at home as part of their triage by a social worker who spent 2 hours with me going over some history, my family and doing some of the standard AQ questionnaires. I then went on a waiting list to be assessed by a clinical psychologist at the Communty Adult Aspergers Services with an ASD specific team. I had 3 sessions that all lasted around 2 hours on my own, another session with my mum again this lasted almost 2 hours, a session with another psychologist doing a series of tests, some on computer and some verbal with set questions on synonyms and another series of questions on scenarios I was given. I then had a final review session with the psychologist where she produced a draft copy of my report and read it through with me and went over it then eventually about 2 weeks later I was posted a copy of my final report. This whole process form referral to receiving the report took almost a year as the waiting list for assessment after my initial triage was 6 months. So this was just the start of my journey.

  1. There have been times, in my car, where I feel what I’m going to walk into and turn around and drive away. : ( This was years ago. Children have changed this for me. I have to do this now.

  2. Thanks for sharing Amanda 🙂 … I received my own dx a few months BEFORE my daughter’s – BUT if it were not for starting down the path of trying to work out how to help for my daughters developmental ‘issues’ then I would NEVER have discovered my own AS … infact – at the time I first went to my Psychologist for help it was querying if I might actually fit an ADHD dx (in addition to the Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression). For me one of the BIGGEST things I got out of my AS dx was that there was a REASON behind my overwhelming and debilitating anxiety … and it wasn’t just that I was ‘weak’ and not able to ‘pull myself together’… I finally started understanding bits of myself I had NO idea about … and I’m still on that journey! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story Jessymum. Many of us don’t discover our own AS until our children are first suspected of experiencing it also…… I hope you continue to understand and grow ❤

      1. Thanks for sharing, I too began my journey because of being sent to the community mental health team. My gp felt I needed assessed for the possibility of CBT to help my anxiety and depression. I was lucky enough to have an assessment by someone that was thorough and knew about ASD. She told my gp the best help for me would be to refer me on yo the community aspergers services. Although my gp did call me in and did the paperwork with me as I had to answer some personal questions I knew he didn’t get it whe he said to me ” I dont really know anything about this learning disorder” T least he did the referral that finally put me on the path to my diagnosis and finally understanding who I am.

  3. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the aspie trait of seeing things from multiple points of view, and doing what most people call “overthinking” or “overanalyzing.” I really hadn’t considered it as a source of anxiety because it doesn’t work that way for me. It’s more a source of confusion about making choices. But it’s easy to see how that can lead to anxiety for some people. Maybe because I’m a writer, I’ve come to see it as a potential strength, and a source of creativity. We have to turn our powers of analysis on ourselves and decide where to set our priorities. That means learning to discard things that are potential sources of anxiety but that aren’t really important. I guess that amounts to developing filters for what we will pay attention to and what we will discard once we’ve looked at it closely and seen as valueless.

    I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense, but it’s something I’m still working on so that I can express it more usefully.

  4. This is a great letter! I have thought of writing something like this. I was diagnosed with Aspergers years ago but it was somewhat informally at the mental health clinic in a different state, where I lived briefly, and I can’t even remember the name of the place (It isn’t even there anymore… right before I moved away it was taken over by a private company.) Other doctors I’ve been to have been very reluctant to see me as having Aspergers, because I have developed a lot of coping skills over the years. It is hard for me to communicate to a doctor… added to the fact that I have nobody to attest for what i was like as a small child… so I am legally diagnosed only as having ADHD, anxiety and depression, although I do think of myself as having Aspergers!

  5. It’s like she took the words right out of my head. I relate to this so very much. I’m raising my stepdaughter who is on spectrum as well and I feel that I’m not doing the best that I can because of the anxiety that keeps me weighed down. “Self imposed obligations” giving me anxiety was one of the red flags for me, it should be so hard to go get the mail or pay the rent, all I have to do is hand them the money order and I still have to force myself to do it.

  6. Reblogged this on A Thousand Signs and commented:
    It’s like the writer took every thought in my head and wrote it down. I worry all the time that I’m not exposing my children to enough in the world because of my anxiety. How can I tell them to of overcome obstacles in their lives if I’m trapped in the comfort of being alone?

  7. I said pretty much the same things, but still can’t obtain a diagnosis. This is no different from my story, at all. Thank you for summing it up so succinctly. I’m glad you are making progress. Because of the area I live in, and limited funds, I don’t believe I will be diagnosed. I decided to become a psychologist instead. It’s my passion, I should qualify for financial aid, & seems like a better investment for me.

  8. Thank you for sharing! I think I’m going to try making a letter and keep it on hand for the next time I attempt to work with a doctor or therapist on my own issues. Every time I reach out, the person I go to “accuses” me of just having low self-esteem. I present so well in a one-on-one environment. Its so hurtful to be told that I just need to have more self-esteem, more confidence. Soul pounding. Maybe if I took the time to write it all down and share with them, they would at least have the good manners to not accuse me of simply needing more confidence?

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