Adult Diagnosis

Can undiagnosed autistic adults only receive professional diagnoses when we are at a crisis point?

Before my professional diagnosis, I had been at many crisis points. I was in-and-out of therapy and doctors’ offices, and even hospitalized. Crisis did not result in ASD diagnosis. Instead, I was misdiagnosed entirely or only treated for symptoms – fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression. I was also suggested anti-psychotics once. Undiagnosed autistic people in crisis are not receiving an ASD diagnosis. So, if the diagnostic tools are supposedly biased toward autistic people in crisis, what’s happening here?

I was not diagnosed in a crisis state. I wasn’t burnt out, I was employed, I had friends, and I lived independently. In this “stable” state, I received a full assessment and was diagnosed. I strongly believe this occurred not only because I sought a specialist that had experience with AFAB autistic people, but also because I studied up on the DSM.

Perhaps, as ASD assessment currently stands, the issue here is no lack of upfront evidence. What is missed is actual awareness and understanding of the autistic traits and how they present. Unfortunately, both autistic people and professionals are often misinformed of ASD traits, and are also unsure of which traits are “key” traits on assessments.

But the assessment is biased toward certain traits, and a psychologist is biased toward their assessment. Even if my most intense autism trait is rumination, that trait is not emphasized on the DSM. We need to talk to our psychologist about what is on the assessment. Unfortunately, the evaluation appointment is not the time to teach about the diversity found within the autism community.

Not every professional uses the DSM to diagnose autism. As such, it may be helpful to ask a psychologist which diagnostic tool they use. Then, research that tool.

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