And just like that, I’m official.

Earlier this week, I had a missed call on my mobile from a private number. This washed waves of anxiety over me. I’d asked my local NHS adult autism service to put me on the callback list in the event of any appointment cancellations – a year’s wait from the date of referral for assessment (the likely duration I’d been forewarned about) was a long time to contend with when I was already convinced I was autistic. What if it had been them? What if this was the only opportunity in the next 12 months I might get to come in earlier? Too late. I had no idea who it was who had called me.

Two days later, just as I was about to leave the office to go and deliver some training, I received another call from an undisclosed number. This time, I picked up.

“Hello is that Lady Ananas?”

“Yes. Hello?”

“This is X from the Adult Autism and Neurodisability Services. I understand you’re on the short-notice callback list, and we have a cancellation this afternoon? Would you be able to come in?”

…thinking…thinking…

“Er no, sorry. I’ve due to be doing a whole day’s training that I can’t get out of. Thanks, anyway. Can you still keep me on the callback list in case anything else comes up?”

“Okay, love. No problem – it’s just that cancellations don’t happen very often. But if you can’t make it, not to worry.”

“Okay, thanks very much. Bye.”

“Bye, love.”

Phone down.

Shit.

What. The. Fuck. Did. I. Just. Do?

Walking up the road to the training venue, I tried ringing the public number I knew I had for the service. Voicemail. Shit. Cue rambling message.

And so, for the entire morning’s training, I was fidgety, anxious; not really fully there.

Why is it that I never put myself first? I’m always so desperate not to let other people down. People know me and respect me – they could cope in this situation. I really should look after myself more. I’m so stupid. This is really important, and I’ve blown it.

My training delivery partner, who was already aware of my situation (I have a very accepting, diversity-friendly workplace), asked me what was up. I told him.

“Oh, you should have just said ‘yes’! I can cover the whole thing – we’ve worked on it together. Just give them a call again – even if they’ve already offered the appointment to someone else, at least you’ll know you did all you could.”

And so I rang back. The appointment was still unfilled. I said “Yes”. And in that moment I went from still-low-down-on-the-waiting-list to autism-assessment-in-T-minus-2 hours. Yikes! Not ideal preparation time, but hey.

In the taxi to the assessment venue, I felt sick. Deeply sick. What if I lost the plot? Forgot to tell the psychologist all those necessary things that had been whirring round in my head, and populating this blog, these past few months?

Caaaaalm. Breeeaaathe. Fidget with Tangle.

The service is based in a green, leafy part of town, with wide, clean streets and large buildings. The sun was shining. All outside was calm, as I was fizzing and churning inside. I buzzed in, went through the large glass doors, and signed in.

Inoffensive décor. Nothing too jarring on the senses, apart from one flickering light near the reception desk, which I could look away from quite easily.  A very welcome cup of tea available for the princely sum of 50p. A box of sensory items in the waiting area, plus an enormous beanbag, which I opted for instead of the horrid, low-seated, upright, square chairs that I can never, ever get my body comfortable on. My Tangle was still preferable to the other fidgety items on offer.

And ten minutes later, I was in the appointment.

Another oversized beanbag was made available. I sank into it and let it cocoon me. The light in the room remained off throughout. I decided that it was okay to make minimal eye contact with Dr S, while I fidgeted, fidgeted, fidgeted with the Tangle, and talked. Dr S was supportive, kind, encouraging; sensitively and gently steering me in another direction if I talked too long on a point for which he already had sufficient evidence (brevity is not a strength of mine).

And, after two and a half hours of answering questions, and a provision of my life history (in addition to the eight-page document I’d offered up to support my referral request), it was all done. I was utterly exhausted.

And I had gone from self-diagnosed to fully-fledged, bona fide autistic. Just like that. Written report to be typed up and posted to me, of course. But the diagnosis was clear. Autistic spectrum disorder (with caveats that my autism is of a very ‘atypical’ nature), with probably ADHD and dyspraxia. Explanations for a lifetime of struggles, but also validation of my many strengths. And the prospect that I will be seen again, and can start to work through how I might work, and be supported, to be a happy, autistic me.

And with that, a weight was lifted. A key aspect of who I am was finally confirmed to me. And whilst I cried and cried, I was happy.

That was yesterday. Less than 24 hours ago. And however I’ll be feeling as the days and weeks go by, right now, I couldn’t be happier.

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13 thoughts on “And just like that, I’m official.

    1. Thank you! 😊 I really do feel physically ‘lighter’ somehow. Elation is definitely it! I know it’s not the end of the story, but I am just so, happy right now. The certainty has freed up at least some of my thought processing powers!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. For all the ups and downs I have not for one second regretted finding out. Life is definitely better with the diagnosis. I couldn’t give myself such permission to be fully me without it.

        Don’t forget to rest and recover! You must still be knackered.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Congratulations! I am glad that you went for the assessment and that you received the answer(s) that you were looking for! Take care of yourself – after my assessment, I had to make time for self-care 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, still pretty tired today. A very, every intense day. But such a relief. I guess I’m lucky in having the resilience to have been able to cope with something so short notice, but recently certain aspects of life have been so difficult that I hated the thought of having to wait so long for formal confirmation. I can move on from that particular bit of uncertainty.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Update
      I got my “certificate” about two weeks ago! For my husband and me, the diagnosis has literally been life-changing. When we are in a miscommunication rut and voices get heated, my husband chose a time-out word for me to use as a placeholder until we can calm down and can hear each other: “jumble.” I thought he was pretty clever to think of that word. It’s perfect because it completely describes my state at moments like this and it sounds a little funny, which is the best kind of word to have when things are stressful.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi ladyananas – I love your blog, I realised I might be on the spectrum through watching my 5-yo daughter & googling her symptoms.
    At 46 I’m so well ‘masked’ I’m not sure I’d get a diagnosis & even worse, I worry they’d say I’m not on the spectrum. I’m clinging to my recent self-diagnosis as it explains a lifetime of isolation & confusion, but I love the fact you have been through the process & it gives me food-for-thought …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear the blog has been useful to you. My story was, as you might have gathered, very similar. One of the things that I dreaded most was getting through the assessment only to be told that, whilst I had traits, I “wasn’t autistic enough” for a formal diagnosis (and the resulting acknowledgement of need for support at work etc). Luckily for me that didn’t happen.

      All I can suggest is that you try and write stuff down. Compile your thoughts, observations, memories, anything that is relevant. The medical model of disability is horribly deficit-focused, but in terms of getting referral to a professional, it IS worth documenting your ‘traits’ against something like the DSM-V criteria (take a look in the “Getting Assessed” section of my site), as this is the language spoken by the ‘gatekeepers’.

      Even if you decide not to go down the formal route, that self-knowledge (and self-acceptance) you describe are immensely valuable.

      All the best to you and your daughter x

      Like

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