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Self diagnosis is valid

So many people (I feel the vast majority) are uneducated when it comes to autism (specially in girls and women or in individuals who do not present as “typically” autistic (ironically)). I find it really hard. I don’t have many people in my life that accept me as autistic as apparently I don’t look autistic enough. All my life I felt alienated and like I had no community. I hoped I would feel part of the autistic community if I got a diagnosis. But a psychiatrist told me I didn’t meet the criteria enough to get one. This meant, yet again, more feelings of alienation (not fitting anywhere).

After a year of being told by a psychiatrist that I’m not autistic, I’m starting to accept that I am and that it’s ok if I don’t get the label. There’s many autistic communities online that are inclusive of self diagnosed autistics and that have made me feel welcome. And I also work and volunteer for the LAGC London Autism Group Charity.

Today was the first time in a long time that I made myself vulnerable and shared with someone that I’m autistic. Their response was that I’m not. They asked if I had a diagnosis and I said that I didn’t and that I was told by a psychiatrist that I wasn’t. They said they agreed with the psychiatrist.

I cried. I couldn’t help it. I cried talking to a man at a market stall in South Ockendon. So random! I thought maybe I should just go. But I couldn’t. It felt important for me to tell him how his words made me feel. Isolated yet again. Being told I wasn’t part of the a community I strongly feel part of and that makes sense to me.

He apologised for upsetting me. He said that he just found it strange and that he’s learning.

But maybe this interaction means that one more person may have a more open mind about it.

I mean, the way I see it, if I feel better and feel a sense of community in being autistic, who is that harming? Would I be doing this if I didn’t really feel like this? Does that not mean more than a psychiatrist’s (who is neurotypical and doesn’t understand my experience as a neurodivergent person or perhaps who is unaware of their autism and denies this to themselves (and therefore is unable to see it in others)) opinion and interpretation of the DSM V diagnostic criteria (also written by neurotypical people that see people that are not “typical” as needing fixing)?

By Grace Maskell

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