After trying to get a diagnosis for about eleven years, I FINALLY HAVE ONE! Or, several, actually. I’ve been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, PTSD, and “very severe” depression.
The doctor kept saying she was “on the fence” about whether to diagnose me with ASD or with non-verbal learning disability (NVLD). I pointed out that they overlap a lot, and H and I both emphasized my sensory integration issues and stimming, neither of which is technically part of NVLD. The doctor finally accepted my argument that an ASD diagnosis would be more useful for accessing services outside of school, such as AANE services, ADA accomodations, and SSI. But for much of the session, she kept pushing the NVLD thing, and made some pretty strange arguments in favor of it. First she claimed she didn’t think I could be autistic because I have friends. I pointed out that most of my friends are also neurodivergent. Then she tried to claim that my social skills problems were caused by being trans; I pointed out that I didn’t experience any gender dysphoria until puberty, and that other trans people do not, as a rule, have problems with social skills. Then she tried to argue that my stimming – pretty classic rocking, twirling and hand-flapping, from toddlerhood on – was caused by depression, which doesn’t even make sense, because most depressed people don’t stim. Her last-ditch effort, even as she was agreeing to an official diagnosis of ASD, was a vague claim that her “gut” told her I wasn’t autistic, there was just “something about” me…
So yeah, even though I got the diagnosis, it didn’t feel like the huge relief that I thought it was. Instead of feeling like an expert confirmed what I’d suspected all along, I felt like I just got someone to reluctantly write down my self-diagnosis and sign off on it. In practical terms, there’s no real difference; an official diagnosis is an official diagnosis, no matter how it was arrived at. But in my mind, it hasn’t made me feel more confident than I did before.
As for the other diagnoses, I have every “inattentive” ADHD symptom, and I was already diagnosed with depression and PTSD, so no surprises there. I was also pleased that my report states in multiple places that it would be very difficult for me to work, which should be helpful for my SSI case.
My roommate, H, just went for neuropsych testing today. (Well, technically yesterday – I’m writing this in the wee morning hours). He finished all the actual tests today, but he goes back in two weeks to fill out questionnaires, and in another two weeks to get results. (The spacing of the appointments isn’t necessarily typical; we scheduled it around what days we go into the city.) H, D, and I are all pursuing a diagnosis, and I have my appointment for neuropsych testing in a few weeks. H is the first of the three of us to get tested, although D’s younger brother was tested and diagnosed PDD-NOS over the summer.
I can’t speak too much about the tests, partly because I wasn’t the one taking them, and partly because I’m trying not to find out too much about them so I don’t “spoil” myself for my evaluation. By that I mean, it sounds like a lot of the tests involved trying to figure stuff out, and if I learn too much about the tests and how H did them, it might mess up my test results if I have the same tests. This is kind of stressful, and now I’m anxious to get my test out of the way so I can stop worrying about avoiding “spoilers.” It feels like how Breaking Bad ended and I still haven’t seen past like season 4, so now every time someone mentions the show I have to cover my ears and go “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU”.
What I can say is that the psychiatrist, and H, were happy to have D and me come back and contribute to the interview portion. D was kind of overwhelmed and didn’t say much, but I prompted H about a few things he forgot to mention, like how he’s really sensitive to different fabric textures, and how his dad likes to infodump about cars to anyone who so much as says the word “car”. So yeah, if you have a good friend who’s familiar with your autistic traits, it might be a good idea to bring them along, especially if you think you might blank out during the interview.
Another (probably?) unrelated thing that’s been on my mind is how, even though I suck at interpreting human body language, I’m really oddly good at interpreting feline body language. If my cat, Jake, lies in a particular position, I know he wants someone to pet him. If he goes over to D who is on the couch and makes a certain face, I know he wants D to pat the couch and invite him up. If D starts petting him and he looks annoyed, I know he wants D to move his arm out of the way so he can climb on his lap and crush all of his internal organs. (Jake, at last weigh-in, was 22 pounds.) So I’m constantly talking for the cats, like “Jake wants you to pet him” or “Dot wants to sniff your hand.” This is one of those things that I know is probably weird, even though it comes pretty naturally to me. And really, I’m not sure about the cause of this – it’s very possibly an autistic thing, but it could also be because I grew up as an only child who always had multiple cats. Or maybe a mix of both. I suspect it might be common in autistic people though. I know a lot of us tend to avoid people at parties and go hang out with the cat, and I bet for a lot of us, it’s because we find it easier to understand the cat.