It’s been a long time coming — 18 years, give or take. Or, more accurately, 18 years, 6 months, and 26 days.
I got my assessment confirmation letter via email last night. The outcome? My profile of abilities and spiky profile can best be explained with a DSM-V diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (Level 1 – Subtype is Asperger Syndrome)
I’m ignoring the “Disorder” piece of it, as well as the Level 1. That’s just a formality, based on the DSM-V, which most people agree could use a tune-up with regards to autism. Some folks (me included) think that the autism spectrum shouldn’t even be included — just like homosexuality, which was classified as a mental illness within my lifetime. It’s only been “off the books” for about 43 years — considering all the pain and suffering it caused, which still affects people’s lives, that’s not a long time.
Anyway, I’m no more autistic now, than I was before this official evaluation. I’m no more autistic now, than I was before I came across Asperger’s Syndrome in 1998. And I’m no more right about being autistic, than I was prior to this official pronouncement.
But at least, this is one last argument I have to have with others (including a number of autistic folks) who insist — insist! — that you can’t call yourself autistic without an official diagnosis. That seems illogical to me. Autism as a personality type doesn’t manifest or cease to exist, based on the pronouncements of a PhD. The difficulties are real, regardless. The strengths are every bit as strong. And for the record, none of the diagnosticians who named this condition invented it — not even Hans Asperger. They simply recognized it. Documented it. Made careers out of it.
We, on the other hand, have been living it.
If your autism affects your life, but no certified professional can hear the sound of it or recognize the sight, it in fact still exists.