Have you been wondering, 'Am I autistic?' Here you can find information about diagnosis for adults who are – or think they are – on the autism spectrum, including the benefits of diagnosis, how to get diagnosed and the services and support you may be able to access after you have been diagnosed.
Do I have autism?
You may be wondering if you are autistic. Perhaps you have read something about the condition, or seen a programme on TV, and think that it describes some of your own experiences.
It's quite common for people to have gone through life feeling that, somehow, they don't quite fit in. But they have never been diagnosed with autism and haven't been able to explain this feeling of 'difference'.
Many people learn to cope with life in their own ways, although this can be hard work. They might be married or living with a partner, have families or successful careers. Others may be more isolated and find things much more of a struggle.
In either case, getting a formal diagnosis – or at least learning more about autism – can help. A lot of people say their diagnosis has helped them to understand why they have difficulties with some things and why they are especially good at others.
It is up to you whether you decide to seek a diagnosis and some people are happy to remain self-diagnosed. The only way to know for sure whether you are autistic is to get a formal diagnosis.
Experiences of diagnosis
I’d always found the world a bit confusing. I never understood why people behave the way they do and why I never really seemed to fit in. I’d done well at school, but had found it difficult to relate to people and to make friends. I always tried to avoid social occasions but when I couldn’t get out of them I’d end up sitting in a corner, lost in a world of my own.
Then, about two years ago, my wife watched a documentary about Asperger syndrome and instantly recognised that it was describing me. Suddenly everything made sense. I realised why I find some things difficult, when they seem to come naturally to everyone else. I realised why I don’t always understand what people are saying or feeling. And I realised why I sometimes feel isolated and alone.
I'm still not sure whether having Asperger syndrome is a good or a bad thing, but what I do know is that it’s part of what makes me who I am. And I’m okay with that."
As I got older I began to realise that I was 'different' and wanted to fit in better. I had a difficult time keeping up a conversation with anyone, so I began writing out scripts so I could practice what to say. I still had a very difficult time looking someone in the eye. It was uncomfortable for me [and] while I looked away I was able to both pay attention and go over my list of things to say. Over time, this has gotten easier for me but it's still a challenge."
I only recently discovered that I have Asperger syndrome. While I had felt like an outsider all of my life, never understanding social rules instinctively, and being unable to cope with or enjoy social events, I hadn't thought it unusual that I collected weather statistics as a hobby for three years from the age of ten, nor that I found it bizarre that girls would play with dolls rather than work out how machinery operated.
I was fortunate to have gone to a small school which allowed me to study rather than have to focus on social activities, and I was one of the well-behaved pupils. People just thought I was 'odd'.
[Later] I started work at a computer firm and learned everything I could about how people were supposed to behave. I was offered a job as a trainer on computer software, and soon afterwards I met my husband (who also has Asperger syndrome, but didn't realise it at the time) and we went on to have a son.
While social skills are never going to be my strength and I need a lot of time to myself to recover from corporate events, I have found that Asperger syndrome has allowed me to really focus on my goals. It's not a 'disability' to either of us, it's a different way of looking at the world, and one that is equally valid."
Read more opinions of autistic people who were diagnosed as adults in an archived Twitter discussion on whether or not getting diagnosed was worth it.