thoughts from a recently-diagnosed autistic queer feminist

Starting Point

I have lots of options for a starting point, but I’ll pick one and work forwards, backwards and sideways from there. Just under a month ago I received, officially, the answer I had been looking for for a long time: a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, specifically Asperger’s Syndrome, along with anxiety and previously-diagnosed dyspraxia.

In the weeks since, as well as swerving drastically between bouncing off the walls in excitement and relief and freaking the fuck out, I’ve done two main things.

The practitioner who assessed me warned about telling people too soon. It was probably good advice in general; I’ve achieved those superficial marks of neurotypical success (partner, job, university degree, home ownership, friends) and would, therefore be exposing myself to the twin perils of disbelief and discrimination. It was probably even helpful advice for me, in that it encouraged me to think carefully and hold off a little while at least. But it was, ultimately, advice that I was never going to take.

I came out as queer at the age of twenty. That was about fifteen years after I first knew, and almost as soon as I did so my life got better. Being closeted was a horrible thing. I make no judgements about people’s decisions – sometimes it can be a lifesaver, and I like (most) queer people being alive, but it felt bloody awful. And now, here, was my second chance. And I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again.

My partner was at the assessment with me (and indeed was one of two people to most strongly suggest AS to me) and I told a few close friends pretty much immediately and my parents a week or so later (they reacted by telling me that another family member had also been diagnosed that week – the diagnosis was no surprise, but the timing was). Then it was just everyone else to worry about.

It took a fair bit of stressing and worrying before I bit the bullet and posted to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. People wereawesome. I got a fuckload of support (as well as a couple of people contacting me to say they were also on the spectrum) and felt really boosted in my confidence.

The only place I’m not out is work, not because I think it would cause significant problems, but because for various reasons I don’t feel like having that conversation just yet. I’m aware, though, that having told so many others it may well become known. I’m okay with, and prepared for, that.

The other thing I’ve been doing is reading. I left the appointment with a reading list (which was exactly what I needed) and was almost immediately downloading Kindle editions to my tablet (somewhat to the dismay of my partner who mutters things about paper and libraries). I’m a bit of an information addict, and I’ve been motoring through them as well as various online sources, and accumulating a bunch of notes.

Words have always been my ‘thing’, reading and writing them. So this blog is really for me to explore the myriad of things I’ve been discovering. My interests are more social/political than medical/individual, and I have no idea how much interest it will be to anyone else, but if it is then welcome!

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Comments on: "Starting Point" (4)

  1. Hey that’s pretty cool, good to have an answer!

  2. Katharine Elmer said:

    I teach high school and two years ago I started suspecting one of my students had Aspergers. All his other teachers thought him lazy and unmotivated. Fast Forward a year and a half and he has been diagnosed. While his family is still adjusting to this, the boy himself has come out of his shell is a way that is nothing short of magical!

  3. I have just received a diagnosis of Aspergers at 43. I am a good actress—have all the trophies of success. It is a hard spot to be in, and I understand. I learned the hard way to not tell too many people. That’s why I’m blogging. lol …..I guess I didn’t learn, as I’m telling the world. Anyhow, know how you feel. Hang in there.

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