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  • Writer's pictureDrew Kellough

Autism and Self-Diagnosis in Adulthood


Autism and Self-Diagnosis in Adulthood
Autism and Self-Diagnosis in Adulthood

Diagnosis is an emotional process


The emotional process of receiving an autism diagnosis or self-diagnosing in adulthood is often complex and varied. Here are a few things a person going through the process may feel:

1. Relief and validation:

For many adults, a diagnosis can bring immense relief. It finally provides an explanation for lifelong struggles with social interactions, sensory sensitivities, communication difficulties, or repetitive behaviors. The diagnosis validates their experiences and helps them understand why they may feel different from others.


2. Self-discovery and acceptance:

 

The diagnosis can initiate a journey of self-discovery. Adults may start to learn more about autism, connect with other autistic individuals, and embrace their neurodiversity. This process can lead to increased self-acceptance and a greater sense of belonging.


3. Grief and loss:

 

Some individuals may experience feelings of grief or loss after a diagnosis. They may grieve the life they imagined for themselves, or mourn the missed opportunities for early intervention and support. They might also grapple with feelings of isolation or difference.


4. Anger and frustration:

 

In some cases, adults may feel anger or frustration towards themselves, their families, or the medical professionals who may have missed earlier signs of autism. They might also feel frustrated by the lack of resources or support available for adults on the spectrum.


5. Anxiety and uncertainty:

 

The diagnosis can also trigger anxiety and uncertainty about the future. Adults may worry about the impact of autism on their relationships, careers, and overall well-being. They might also feel overwhelmed by the prospect of navigating a new identity and seeking appropriate support.


6. Empowerment and growth:

 

Despite the challenges, many adults find that the diagnosis is a catalyst for personal growth and empowerment. They may develop new coping mechanisms, build stronger relationships, and advocate for their needs. The diagnosis can ultimately lead to a more authentic and fulfilling life.


It's important to note that everyone's experience with an autism diagnosis is unique. Some individuals may move through these stages quickly, while others may take longer to process their emotions. Seeking support from therapists, support groups, or other trusted individuals can be crucial for navigating the emotional complexities of a diagnosis.


Autism and Self-Diagnosis


Self-diagnosis may be the best option for some adults who are in the process of learning about whether Autism explains their experience. Self-diagnosis is something many medical professionals steer their patients/clients away from. However, cost of testing services and limited access to accommodations are a few reasons why an official diagnosis may not be the best option for some adults.


We encourage our clients to do their own research, and if they'd like to discuss the information they find with us, we can help them process it. Self-diagnosis is a deeply personal process, and it is important for people going through that process to feel a sense of validation from their therapists/counselors.


The diagnosis process for Autism should be a collaborative one. At Kaleidoscope, we want to ensure our clients know that their experience is valid, and that we want to help them find the answers they are looking for.

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