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Accessing a Diagnosis

Receiving an autism diagnosis can feel overwhelming, painful, exciting, relieving and any number of other things. No two people’s experience will be the same, but below is some information that could be useful to anyone in the stages of their autism discovery. 

There are so many barriers to accessing a diagnosis, particularly for People of Colour, and for that reason, I do not believe it is necessary to have a medical diagnosis in order to identify as autistic. Self diagnosis is just as valid, you know yourself better than any medical professional ever will. 

How to Get Assessed:

  • NHS guide  - to getting a diagnosis.

  • Right to Choose - provide adult ASC diagnosis services with a Clinical Commissioning Group under the NHS. 

  • Private services - can greatly reduce the waiting times that you would experience, due to the lengthy delays for diagnosis within the NHS.

What to Expect
  • Developmental history - this includes childhood experiences and development, as well as some information about family history. It may involve a caregiver or family member to speak to the assessor. 

  • Relationships - involves discussing how you interact with people in your life and any feelings or experiences that come with that.

  • Interests - including your hobbies, passions, how you spend your free time, what your potential job or education situation is, and what you hope to do going forwards.

  • Sensory experiences - how you experience sensory input such as auditory, visual and taste.

How to Prepare
  • Make a list of the traits you know you experience to add weight to your reasons for seeking an assessment and give the assessor something to work with.

  • You will likely be asked WHY you want a diagnosis, and how you think it will benefit you, so preparing an answer to those two questions could be helpful.

  • It can be an emotionally taxing process, so taking objects that make you feel comfortable and grounded to your appointment could be helpful. You can also ask for someone to go with you if you wish.

What Comes After
  • You do not owe anyone knowledge or details of your assessment or diagnosis.

  • A diagnosis can help you access support and resources better suited to your needs, including within work and education environments (See slide 12). 

  • A diagnosis could help make you eligible for certain financial supports (See slide 13).

  • It is illegal for a place of work to discriminate against you because of your diagnosis. See more information about that here. 

  • A diagnosis can help offer you explanations and recognition of your experiences and help you understand yourself in ways you might previously not been able to. 

  • There is no time limit to processing any thoughts or feelings you may have around your diagnosis.

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