I’ve often heard people say ‘Why do you need an Autism Diagnosis? You’re an adult!’. However, receiving my diagnosis in my twenties was genuinely life-changing. Here is why I consider it crucial that I received my autism diagnosis later, rather than never.
I’m not going to outgrow my autism
Autism is lifelong and isn’t exclusively for children. Although it may present differently in me compared to when I was a child. It doesn’t mean it is not there. I’m always going to be autistic, and that will never change.
It answers questions, A LOT of questions about the past.
When I clicked about being autistic, it answers questions that makes sense of the past. Such as ‘Why did that person not respond in a way I expected?’ ‘How come I was so clumsy in that social situation?, surely I should have been able to navigate that’. There were countless moments like this in my life where it was all a bit of a mystery. Now I can make sense of them, which provides some sort of relief.
I don’t feel like a failure anymore
On paper (or on my Instagram account) I didn’t look like a failure. But I felt like one. I was struggling by pretending to be somebody I wasn’t (neurotypical) in the day. So I could hold down a job and not receive judgements by other people. This would be exhausting, and I would not have the energy to do anything else. I didn’t have the energy to cook a proper meal for myself, remember to wash up etc. I would struggle to cope with the demands of everyday life that most people seemed to do effortlessly. This made me feel like a failure as I wouldn’t have the energy to complete daily tasks. Now I know the act I was putting on during the day was the reason why I couldn’t manage. Not because I was a failure in coping with everyday life.
I can forgive myself
For all the social “mistakes” I was making, and not having the best executive function meant I was highly critical of myself. This really impacts self-esteem, and it didn’t do myself any favours. However, now I know about my autism, I can forgive myself as I realise a lot of them aren’t even mistakes. I am different, and that is why I don’t live my life in a typical way compared to others.
Most of my adult life so far, I had been struggling with my mental health. Near constant anxiety and along with other undiagnosed conditions. It was gradually getting worse, and it was also impacting my physical health. In part, faking being normal contributed a lot. So when I discovered I was autistic, I could finally breathe. I knew there wasn’t a problem with me, the way I was expected to behave was causing the problem. Although my mental health is not perfect, it has been significantly better since discovering I was autistic.
Better decisions for the future
Now I am aware of my autism, I can make better choices about the future. I’m still relatively young, I still need to figure out where will I work? (currently, I’m a master’s student)What type of living situation will suit me? How can I find the best opportunities for me? How many cats should I have? It’s a process, but I should be able to make more informed choices about my future.
If you were diagnosed later in life, what do you think? Do you feel it helped you? Comment below with your thoughts.