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What Comes With Getting an AuDHD Diagnosis as an Adult

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After my three kids were diagnosed as autistic at the end of 2020, I developed a special interest in autism. I pored over every article and post that I could find. I related with so many of the things that I was learning. In learning about my children, I was learning about myself.

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I began to wonder if I was autistic. I began to wonder if I had ADHD. I still don’t fully understand where one ends and the other begins. I just knew that I thought I could have both.

My anxiety and imposter syndrome were screaming for validation. I started looking for professionals who assessed adults for autism, but there were only a few in my area. I was so worried that I would be misdiagnosed that I searched for the psychologist who was the most experienced and who actively researched autism in women.

I found her, but this doctor would cost thousands of dollars and she had a waitlist that stretched over a year… Still, I put my name on the list.

Over those 14 months, it drifted in and out of my brain. Sometimes I would be so worried about the money that I would tell myself that self-diagnosis is fine. Other times, my own self-doubt and loathing told me that I needed to push forward. My rigid thinking was telling me that I can’t have a diagnosis without actually being assessed. While I could accept self-diagnosis for others, something in me couldn’t accept it for myself. Although my inclination was correct, without a report in hand, it felt like a lie.

When I finally received the email that my number had come up, I agreed to the process and the dates. Then panic set in.

What if I’m wasting my time?

What if I’m wasting my money… my family’s money?

What if I’m not autistic and I’ve been lying to myself and my kids about being part of their community?

I went through the assessment anyway. It took a few sessions for assessment and then after several weeks — validation.

I was not just autistic, but I also have ADHD.

Then I cried because it was an overwhelming moment after a busy week of kids’ appointments and extra work shifts. It came just the day after work when I was looking at my coworkers socializing at lunch and was feeling like a complete outsider.

For adults, late diagnosis isn’t just a diagnosis. It usually comes with a long history of trauma from being misunderstood, bullied, and judged for being different.

It comes with the realization that, in spite of your best efforts, you will never change your neurotype and therefore you will never truly fit into most social groups.

It comes with anger at the systems and people who failed you and blamed you for failing to be “normal.”

It comes with sadness at the life you could have lived if you understood yourself and had the proper supports from a young age.

It comes with wondering, “What comes next?” Who is a safe person to share this information with? Who will judge me and “other” me even more than before?

It comes with the fear that I will never be able to find my people and a safe place outside of my home where I don’t have to mask.

But it also comes with relief.

It comes with permission to be who I am.

It comes with hope.

This story originally appeared on Ko-fi.

Image provided by contributor.

Originally published: September 16, 2022
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