People often ask me: “What will I gain from being diagnosed later in life? It won’t change anything for me, so why should I bother?”
Well, my answer as to whether or not anyone should “bother” to get diagnosed is this.
Firstly, on a purely personal level, it depends entirely on what your personal circumstances are and what the biggest issues are that you’re facing at any given point in time.
If you’re a person who’s main problem is that you’re always feeling misunderstood or blamed by your family member for being the way that you are, then perhaps receiving a formal diagnosis may help your family members to comprehend and accept that some of the onus for understanding both who and how you are, falls upon them to make more of an effort to accept you as you are, rather than allowing them to continue to always view you as being the one who needs to change.
Secondly, if you find that you may be in need of some form of formal support or assistance, then receiving a diagnosis may help you to better be able to access whatever support systems are in place within your area.
A diagnosis should also, at the very least, help others around you to become aware that you are genuinely more in need of care, understanding and support than they had previously thought.
Thirdly, if you want to increase your own levels self-understanding and awareness or further seek to validate your own understandings of yourself as being both true and accurate, then receiving a diagnosis may also provide these assurances for you.
But, if you are a strong-willed person who is confident enough to be able to self-identify with having Asperger’s, without feeling any twinges of doubt about it what so ever, then you’ll most likely feel that either the seeking out, or the receiving a diagnosis, is not for you as it holds little potential to offer you any great benefits.
And that’s okay.
But for me, I have found that those who benefit the most from older women such as myself coming forward and being diagnosed, are the generations of girls who are yet to come and the generation of girls and women who are still today, young enough to incorporate this deeper understanding of themselves as females who are Autistic, into their daily lives and move on.
At my age, receiving a formal diagnosis offers me purely the ability to understand myself better and enables me to finally ask for the things I’ve known for so long that I’ve needed all of my life, things such as solitude, peace and quiet, but have never been made to feel as if it were okay for me to ask for these things, because I am a woman and women are supposed to love company and to always want to be social creatures.
I had no way of explaining to anyone, let alone myself, why I’ve always felt that I needed so much time alone.
Yet for girls of my daughter’s age, receiving a diagnosis is offering them so much more.
It is offering them the opportunity of being able to grow up with the gift of truly knowing not only who they are, but also understanding how they are, and that they’re okay.
That it’s okay to be different.
And this to me, as both a woman and a mother, is the gift of understanding that I truly believe is worth fighting for.
I am so glad that there were women in the past who had the strength, courage and forethought, to lead the way forward and to lay the foundations that so many of us today are now standing on, by arguing, on our behalf’s, that High Functioning Female Autism is a very real phenomenon.
Believe me when I tell you that I am all too aware that if no woman had ever dared challenge the male based status quo of the understandings of Asperger’s Syndrome of the past, that neither my daughter nor I, would now be diagnosed.
So how exactly does receiving a diagnosis later in life help anyone and what does it solve anyway even if you do get one?
Well, for one thing, it is likely to allow many women to make sense of their pasts.
To knit all of the previously unresolved elements of their lives, their personalities, their characteristics and their traits, into some semblance of a perspective that will finally make sense to them.
So if that one singular perspective that makes sense of your life is the one thing that you’ve been missing, then getting a diagnosis, even at a much later stage in life, can still provide you with a huge feeling of relief.
In terms of gaining greater access to benefits and assistance, if you are already financially secure or successfully working, then no, receiving a diagnosis later in life, may not help you in any way in terms of on the job support training and alike.
But what it will do, is benefit your children, and your children’s children.
And if you’re not a mother yourself, then please understand that your actions and your choices, may end up benefiting your sister’s or your brother’s children.
The knowledge and validity that we as women gain from receiving a formal diagnosis, could well prevent future generations of girls from having to put up with the kinds of constant bullying that are caused by male bias ignorance.
This will enable them to grow up holding all of the answers to all of the questions that we once, as children held locked inside of our own heads, like fragile eggs, and were too afraid to ask why it was that we were so different from everybody else.
If being diagnosed later in life can help to take away from another child, that awful sense of confusion and self-loathing that comes from knowing that they don’t belong, without ever fully knowing or understanding why, then I’m all for it.
So whilst a formal diagnosis may not seem to be such an important deal individually, in the grand scheme of things, I can see how each and every woman and girl, diagnosed today, can help create a stronger, better defined and more brightly lit path, for our Autistic girls of the future to walk upon.
Unlike us, they won’t have to spend over half of their lifetimes stumbling around in the deep and uncertain dark, and that’s a good thing.
I’m not sure whether holding ideas like these makes me a dreamer, or simply yet another deluded fool.
Either way, the more women and girls who are diagnosed today, the harder it will be for the powers that be, to dismiss the needs of Autistic Women in the future.
I understand that this way of looking at things is not everybody’s cup of tea, but it certainly is mine. So comment and let me know whether or not you agree.