Saturday, 21 October 2017

A diagnosis of Asperger's? Part One

I have always been rather introverted.  I say 'rather' with a sense of grim irony, as I am in fact deeply, painfully introverted; this may be surprising for those who know me, but I have always found social situations exhausting and generally stressful, even with close friends.  I have managed to keep it pretty well hidden, I believe (though it's possible I may be wrong and everyone I know has always had me figured out!) and maintained a 'front' of being reasonably sociable and even lively at times.  However, I had never really considered this as anything more than a fact of life until quite recently: I guess I assumed everyone was the same.
My pride and joy - just for illustrative purposes

Then a few things happened in concert.  I became a father and a leader at work in the same year.  I won't go into details, but these things combined convinced me that perhaps my way of viewing the world and going about my business was a little different.  I'd learned a lot about Autistic Spectrum Disorders from teaching and getting to know various students with the condition and so I decided to see if I fit the criteria.  Lo and behold, a few free online clinical-style tests gave me a 'woah mamma' conclusion.  Apparently I wasn't a bit on the spectrum: I was in the pot of gold, so to speak.  Fascinated by this, I asked my GP for a referral to an expert; after describing my symptoms she referred me without hesitation, barely questioning me at all.  I am now in the middle of the diagnosis process.

In Wiltshire (different authorities do things differently) the diagnosis consists of a three-part assessment, each appointment lasting 90 minutes.  Along with this, questionnaires are completed (interestingly identical to those available online - the RAADS-R test among them) and parents/loved ones are asked for their take.  At the end of the assessment I will be emailed (not phoned, obviously!) with the results, and right now I have no idea what I want to happen.

On one hand, getting a diagnosis would explain an awful lot, and presumably give me some peace of mind.  On the other, I am afraid it will allow me to 'relax' into it, and this would not necessarily be a good thing.  I have made a reasonable job of my life, and have a good job, a wonderful partner and daughter and plenty of Lego, and much of this is down to my ability to hide how I really feel and react to the world.  I worry that if I relax, and 'let it all hang out', then problems may ensue.  Time will tell.

Anyway - the purpose for this rambling introduction is that I wish to begin a series of blogs about the diagnosis process, what it is like to hide the symptoms of Aspergers and how it is that I can be a reasonably successful teacher and middle leader with the condition.  Of course, I may turn out to not have the condition (or at least not sufficiently enough for diagnosis), but I believe a blog exploring my experience could be useful for anyone who feels similarly about themselves, and it may give the wherewithal to get a diagnosis for themselves.

And so, I shall leave this for now but I will follow up with Part 2 soon, which will hopefully be concerned with social anxiety and difficulties.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey. Your blog is the first one I read as I am just beginning the same exploration. It first I thought the odds for me were about 25%, now it's 80%. Not so easy to find a dx where I am, especially since I'm nearly at retirement age. Or so one specialist has said, on to #2. I do know now that opinion is not correct.