For many autistic adults, receiving an official diagnosis can be a profound and life-changing experience. Prior to receiving a diagnosis, many individuals with undiagnosed autism struggle to understand why they think, feel, and communicate differently from other people. This can lead to feelings of self-doubt, isolation, and anxiety.
Receiving a diagnosis can provide autistic adults with a greater sense of self-esteem and understanding. For many, the diagnosis validates their experiences and provides them with a better understanding of themselves. A diagnosis can help them to understand their condition and give them a sense of identity. It can be liberating to finally understand why you have always felt different from others.
Additionally, it can make it easier to obtain accommodations and support services that can improve the quality of their lives. Many individuals with autism are undiagnosed and therefore don’t receive the help they need. A diagnosis can open the door to many resources that can improve the individual’s quality of life. For example, autistic adults may be eligible for disability benefits, which can provide financial assistance and help to cover the costs of care and treatment. A diagnosis can also help autistic adults to access accommodations such as flexible work schedules or assistive technology. This can also lead to finding neurodivergent-affirming groups, which results in improved social support and a greater sense of belonging. There are many online and offline support groups for people with autism, and these groups can provide valuable advice and companionship.
Finally, a diagnosis can help autistic adults to build self-advocacy skills. Once they understand their condition, they can learn how to communicate their needs and advocate for themselves. Once you have a diagnosis, you can explain your condition to employers, teachers, and loved ones, and they will be more understanding and accommodating. For many autistic adults, an official diagnosis is an important first step on the road to a happy and fulfilling life.
I recently reached out to late-diagnosed autistic adults on Tiktok to learn about the most impactful part of being diagnosed, and people shared some of the best things that have come from their diagnoses. These include:
• Better self-understanding
• Greater awareness of self
• Loss of shame
• Being able to find other people they relate to
• Changing the narrative in their head
• Realizing the extent to which the environment impacts how they feel and feeling empowered to make necessary changes
• Being better able to support a neurodivergent child and being able to teach their child how to embrace who they are
One of the most difficult things about autism is that it can be very hard to receive an accurate diagnosis, especially as an adult. Many autistic adults are misdiagnosed with other conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or anxiety. Part of the reason for this is that autism can manifests differently in different people. If you think you might have autism, it is important to seek out a psychologist or other specialist who has experience assessing for this condition. With the right assessment, you can get the answers you need and begin seeking treatment that can improve your quality of life. The assessment process usually includes interviews, questionnaires, and observation. It is important to be honest and open with the psychologist during the assessment in order to get an accurate diagnosis.
An accurate autism diagnosis is important for a number of reasons. First, it can help to ensure that a person receives appropriate supports. There are many different types of mental health treatment available, and an accurate diagnosis can help to ensure that a person receives the treatment that is most likely to be effective for them. Second, an accurate diagnosis can help to rule out other possible causes of symptoms. For example, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often share some symptoms, so a differential diagnosis is important in order to ensure that a person receives the correct treatment. Finally, an accurate autism diagnosis can help to improve quality of life. Autism spectrum disorder can be associated with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions, and therapy can be very beneficial for people with autism. However, therapy is only effective if it is targeted at the specific needs of the individual, so an accurate diagnosis is essential in order to ensure that therapy is effective. For many adults, an autism diagnosis is an important step on the road to achieving greater self-awareness and empowerment.
Receiving a diagnosis of autism can be an important step in understanding oneself and one’s place in the world. For many autistic adults, it can lead to a greater sense of self-esteem and accomplishment. Additionally, it can make it easier to obtain accommodations and support services that improve the quality of life. While an autism diagnosis is not necessary for every adult, for many, it can be a helpful step in managing the challenges of autism. If you think you might have autism, it is important to seek out a psychologist or other specialist who has experience assessing for this condition. What difference could an autism diagnosis make for you?
Dr. Jessica Myszak has had over 10 years of experience performing psychological evaluations with children and adults. She offers both in-person and telehealth evaluations. In addition to seeing clients on the Chicago North Shore, she is able to work with families who reside in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, West Virginia, and Wisconsin! If you are interested in learning more about potentially working with her, you can visit her website here to get the process started.