Most of us will show some autistic traits at times. I’m sure you will recognise something in the list of symptoms below, but the more of them that you can relate to, the more likely it is that you could be on the spectrum.
Making the diagnosis can be quite a longwinded process as various specialists will need to see you in different social settings. If you only have certain feelings in limited environments, then it is more likely that you have a specific anxiety around that setting than that you are autistic.
Autistic symptoms include:
- Finding it hard to read other peoples’ mood or emotion
- Needing a set routine each day and feeling anxious if that is changed
- Finding it hard to make friends and preferring to be on your own
- Finding it hard to express how you feel
- Taking what other people say literally and not understanding nuance
- Avoiding eye contact and not liking people too close to you
- Developing a keen interest in one particular hobby or activity and not understanding why others don’t share your passion.
Autism may manifest itself differently in men and women. This is a generalisation, but women may hide their feelings and appear to cope better in social situations than men, which can mean it is more difficult to recognise that you are autistic if you are a woman.
If you think you could be autistic and you are still at school, you could speak to a member of staff or your GP and if you have left school, your GP should be your first port of call. You may be asked to fill in a form asking you questions about your feelings in the first instance.
It’s a good idea to take someone you know and trust with you to that initial appointment so that they can help you explain how you feel. The diagnosis is usually made after assessments from different specialists. It can be quite a time-consuming process and I know people often find it frustrating, but it is important that the diagnosis is made correctly. If you are diagnosed, this should help you access any special support you may need.