It has been confirmed. As of the 19th February 2010, I am a fully authenticated autistic. Asperger's Syndrome, to be specific. I've decided to just refer to it as autism, as it's shorter and that way I don't have to live with a condition that sounds like Ass Burger.
It's taken a while. Autism is a lifelong thing: I've always been autistic, just now I've got a word for it. I've got a word for why I like to touch hair, for why I freak out about things the way I do, why I make odd squeaking noises (apparently I sound like the squirell from Ice Age), why I get obsessed with some bizarre thing and rant about it inappropriately. And those aren't even the main symptoms. It's a word for maybe hundreds of other things that it'd be stupid to list here.
If you're wondering what autism actually is, read my explanation of it, or just the bits of that note that are in bold. Or go to the website of the National Autisitc Society
It's been a weird path to getting this diagnosis. One of the first professionals I spoke to about thinking I may have some form of autism was a riddiculously stereotyped psychiatrist, complete with German accent, who blamed everything on my mum. It was both amusing and infuriating. It also opened my eyes to how bad the understanding of autism is: He claimed that if I couldn't have it because I cared about my family.
Around the same time, I joined a forum for people with autism spectrum conditions (and their families), which is mainly where I've learnt about my condition. For a moment I felt like I'd lost my individuality - I'd found a forum full of people with all my weird habits. I also found out how diverse this condition is. There are people with just traits of the condition who are not generally thought of as disabled, there are people who are severely autistic and cannot communicate or look after themselves and there are people with absolutely everything in between.
It was the disability services at Warwick that referred me to a psychologist who specialised in Asperger's Syndrome, and that's how I was diagnosed. I also learnt I had trouble reading facial exressions: as part of the assesment I was given a test to see how well I read the expressions in people's eyes, in which I managed to describe a 'flirtacious' expresssion as 'hostile' (in my defense, it was multiple choice)!
I've learnt a lot from all this, far beyond learning why I am the way I am.
Today is World Autism Day, which is why I'm posting this - in the hope it'll catch a bit of interest, and make people want to learn a little more, like I have. I don't know if it'll have any success.