Now unless you have been through it, being assessed for autism may seem like a mysterious process. To be honest, it is, and I had very little idea of what my day would entail until it arrived. I completed the whole assessment process in one day, with the diagnosis confirmed by the end of the day. Everybody’s experience will vary depending on where they will get their diagnosis from. But this is what my diagnosis was like when I went through the process last year.
First, there was a lot of form-filling
I self-referred myself to the place I got my diagnosis from. So it was a little different than going through my GP. I had a lot of paperwork to fill in about my life history. Questions ranged from sensory sensitivity to friendships and if I had any intense interests. Once I had completed about 12 sides of A4 about my life, I sent off the forms for self-referral. The referral was accepted, and they confirmed there was enough evidence to go ahead for an autism assessment.
The Waiting Game
An autism assessment doesn’t happen just like that. I still had to wait a few months for my appointment to come through. I know a lot of people have to wait years from being first referred to getting their assessment, so I was lucky I didn’t have to wait too long.
The Assessment Day Came
At the start of the day, they talk through how the day will go and what assessments they will do. They also confirmed that I would know the outcome of the assessment on the day. Once that was explained, the assessment started.
The first part of the assessment was going through my life history. All the way from being a young child until now. It is a lot to go through, from describing childhood interactions on the playground to why I have made certain decisions about my career and work life.
Tasks and Tests
There were also several tasks I had to complete. I can’t remember them all, but I will go through the ones I do remember. My attention to detail was tested by being shown a cartoon map of America, and I talked about everything that was wrong with it. As I’m a bit of a geography geek, I found that part of the assessment fun.
There was also a test to see if I could think of multiple meanings for sentences that were read to me. Although I just managed to do it with the first example, I found it almost impossible for all the other ones.
Another part of the assessment was being given a bag of random small objects. The person assessing me demonstrated how she created a short story using the objects. I then did the same. From my memory, the objects include a lollipop stick, hairband, a cocktail umbrella, a tiny football and a toy car. By the time I finished creating my own story, the assessor had commented on how literally I was using the items. I felt reasonably confident I was going to get my diagnosis after that comment.
The Creepy Frog Book
There was also this bizarre book involved in the process. It is a wordless picture book where you have to tell the story based on the pictures. Frogs are flying on lily pads, and it is just weird, to be honest. I feel like there was more to the book than flying frogs, but that just sticks out in my mind.
So, after all of the assessments, I had to wait for a short time. It was probably only about 15 minutes, but it felt a lot longer. Once the wait was over, my diagnosis was confirmed, and I had the greatest sense of relief. At 24, I finally had my autism confirmed.
I also found the day a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I was anxious at the beginning of the day, I started to relax as I went through the assessments and nervous while I was waiting for the outcome. However, I am glad I went through it, as I now have the right diagnosis.