This is a question I am often asked, however the answer to this always comes from a summary of comments made by adults recently diagnosed by myself.
Greater Sense of Autistic Self
The most common comments are statements that express value in developing a greater sense of autistic self. “to know myself better”, “to redefine my life and my challenges through an autistic lens, brings a greater sense positivity to my being”, “to be able to understand my behaviour allows me to predict any difficulties I may face and therefore do things differently to a better end” A consequence of this greater sense of autistic self can be witnessed in a positivity towards well being.
Understanding the Relationship between ASD and Mental Well Being on a Personal Level
Being able to re-write the narrative around previous episodes of mental ill health which takes into account the ASD diagnosis, allows for the development of performance/recovery strategies that will protect well being into the future.
Access to Appropriate Interventions for Co-occuring Mental Health Issues
Many undiagnosed autistic adults have experienced a journey through mental health services where they have been diagnosed and treated for some mental health disorders such as depression, social anxiety, OCD, eating disorder etc. For many these have been correct diagnosis’, however when an underlying ASD is not recognised, then the ‘go to’ treatment, without adjustments, may not always be the most appropriate. Modifications can be made to interventions in the light of the person’s individual autistic needs only once these have been recognised.
Greater Understanding of the Autistic Adult
Employment – HR departments are able to take into consideration autistic needs and adhere to disability discrimination policy only if ASD is formally identified.
Services – social work, criminal justice, health services, DWP, employment services and other services are able to understand the person better and therefore respond in ways that recognise their differences in terms of ASD.
Family and friends – when the autistic adult’s family, their parents, partners, children and extended family and friends understand behaviour in the context of ASD then relationships are reported to be enriched to the benefit and happiness of all.
Access to Services
The fact that a formal diagnosis of ASD can give access to services for the autistic adult is questionable. There are very few services designed and delivered to autistic adults that are not provided by the third sector. Within the third sector, in some areas, charitable organisations deliver services to autistic adults. Rarely are individuals asked to prove they have a formal diagnosis, in fact, to consider oneself as an autistic adult permits access in almost all forums.
Although benefits are awarded on a needs led basis and not awarded on the basis of diagnostic labels, a formal diagnosis appears to legitimise an individuals reports of their daily struggles and challenges. To be able to add the name and contact details of a clinician who has completed a diagnostic assessment on a claim form seems to have a positive impact on the outcome of claims.
If you are considering a private diagnostic assessment for autism, but you do not know if it will help you with regard to current issues, then please get in touch via email to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss the potential benefits of assessment for yourself and your particular set of circumstances.
Anne Marie Gallagher