How I was Diagnosed with Asperger's | WAAW17 | invisible i
Welcome to the world of being an Aspie - you buy some hoop earrings thinking that they might look 'cool' but instead of it being a question of 'Hey, do I like the look of these?' it's more of questions of 'Will they annoy the crap out of my body?!' Hey everyone, it's Katy and welcome back to my channel. Welcome to World Autism Awareness Week 2017! This is a week where we spread awareness. It runs from the 27th March - which was yesterday - till the 2nd April - which is on Sunday. So for this week I thought I would celebrate by doing a video a day - phew challenge accepted! So if you haven't already seen the video that I very crazily and surprisingly uploaded yesterday then I will link it up here and down below. Very different one, pushed me out of my comfort! Go and check it out, I am really proud of it but it's very, very different.
So today I thought I would kick-start the conversation by talking a little bit about how I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when I was 18 years old. This is a question that so many of you ask me and I don't think I've really gone into detail about how I was diagnosed. To be honest, it's not really an exciting story so I haven't filmed this video beforehand because I think people expect it to be this big, exciting, motivational kind of story and it's really, really not! But you guys asked me about it so I thought it was about time that I sat down and chatted about it to you guys. I never pursued a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, it was never something that I really knew a lot about. I'd only heard of it once before and that was from Heather on America's Next Top Model who had Asperger's Syndrome and even then I didn't really correlate the two.
I didn't really realise that it was an Autistic Spectrum Disorder or anything like that. So I had never really heard of Asperger's, I'd heard of Autism but didn't even think of myself as being Autistic. It was never something that I had looked up and then thought 'ooh I need to get this checked out.
I need to get a diagnosis.' So previously when I've explained that I literally did just walk into a general appointment at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and we started to approach a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, people assumed that it was an off-the-bat, one-off conversation. It really wasn't! I had been under this team for nearly 3 years at this point so they had seen me all the way through my mental health journey and all the way through college. So it wasn't just like I met someone and they were like 'Hey you're Autistic' and I didn't have to go through the motions of being diagnosed with lots of other things and trying to work out what was up with my brain! It wasn't an off-the-bat thing, it seemed like that at the time but I had been under this team from such a long time that they had enough time and had seen me enough times to get a full assessment of it. So like many, many females on the spectrum, I was actually diagnosed after experiencing a lot of Mental Health problems. If you haven't seen my video about being an Autistic Female and the differences in diagnosis and symptoms compared to males then I will link it up here and down below for you to check out. But I mentioned in that video that many females do get diagnosed after experiencing a shed tonne of Mental Health problems and that is exactly how my experience went. I had been under the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service from the age of 16 onwards and at this point in time - for the last 2 and a half years - I had been experiencing panic attacks, Anxiety, Depression, OCD, I had been diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome as well.
It was just a big ball of mess really. So at the end of January 2015, I just walked in to one of my appointments - it was kind of like a follow-up appointment. I hadn't been seen for a couple of weeks and I was being seen very, very regularly at this point. I was probably being seen every week maybe twice a week so this was probably the first time where I had had a bit of a break. I was approaching being discharged from CAMHS - from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
Because it's for children and adolescents, you're discharged before your 18th Birthday But I was at a different circumstance because I had just started on very, very strong anti-psychotic drugs which CAMHS were monitoring. So I started those just before I turned 18 and then they had to monitor me then - they couldn't just send me off to get lost in the system because I was on very, very strong drugs. So they kept me for much longer than they do with anyone else.
I was actually kept well into being 18. At this point in time, we were discussing getting referred to the Adult Mental Health Service - if you are about to turn 18 and you need to be discharged from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, they automatically refer you to the Adult Mental Health Service so you can pick up your treatment with a team which is much more qualified for your age and your circumstances. So this follow-up appointment that I was going to at the end of January was mainly discussing my discharge plan and talking about where I was going to go. At this point in time I knew that I was going to get sent to the Adult Mental Health Service, it was just something that is well known with CAMHS, you just get moved tothe Adult Mental Health Service - that's just what they do so that is what I was expecting. But in this appointment, we started to discuss the possibility that I might have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. They way that my consultant described this is something that I have never actually explained to any of you guys out there but it's something that I thought would be important. I am going to try and explain this in the best way possible - I might include some little diagrams to help aid the explaining! But basically what he did was he sat me down and drew 4 bubbles - so almost like a Venn Diagram - 2 at the top, 2 at the bottom.
These bubbles represented OCD, Tourette's, Autism and Asperger's and the last one was ADHD. He explained to me that this is like a map. All of these conditions overlap and more frequently they come with each other and you map out where you are at a certain time. So for me, when I first started my treatment back in 2013 when I was experiencing a lot of Anxiety, a lot of OCD and Tourette's, I was more in the bubbles of OCD and Tourette's and less in ADHD and Autism. But then over time, I moved away from OCD and just solely in Tourette's - that was my main symptoms and those were the main things that I was really suffering with.
Then he said 'we think you've moved towards the middle somewhere now where you are experiencing OCD, Tourette's and actually symptoms of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.' ADHD is something that I don't think of myself as having, I've never been 'mapped' into the ADHD bubble. I don't think of myself as having ADHD. So in that appointment, my consultant told me to go away from it, read about Asperger's Syndrome, see if anything makes sense and see if I relate to it in anyway and then come back next week. So that's what I did! After the appointment, I sat in my car with my mum and this was on a school day so I had just been told that I could potentially be Autistic and I had to then go and I think I had to sit an exam this day. I'm pretty sure I had a mock A-Level exam which I had to sit so it was a really crazy, stressful day! So I went back, I researched a lot about it - my consultant had recommended a book my Tony Atwood who is just the most amazing writer and professional when it comes to Asperger's Syndrome in girls in particular. He wrote an amazing book about Asperger's in girls and it just spoke to me and my parents were just in disbelief that this could have a name! All of it just made sense. So we went back the next week to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and sat down with my consultant again and I said 'this all just makes sense!' and he said 'yeah because that's what you have and this is it - this is what has been causing all of your symptoms and all of your mental health problems is Asperger's Syndrome.' That was when I was formally diagnosed and it was crazy - changed my life! Because of that then, I was not referred to the Adult Mental Health Service because Asperger's was now my primary diagnosis.
It's what we believe has caused all of my mental health problems, my Tourette's, it all comes back to Asperger's - that's what I believe is my formal, primary, most important diagnosis - and because that is not a mental health problem, going to the Adult Mental Health Service would kind of be like taking a step back. Now my GP just manages everything. If I need anything, I go back to my GP. They understand...
For the most part but a lot of the time I don't really need my GP to monitor my Asperger's, I do it myself and it's just something that I live with. But if anything ever comes up in the future which I need sorting out when it comes to my Asperger's, I will go and see my GP. So there you have it, that was it, that was how I was diagnosed. I'm really sorry that this wasn't an exciting story - I warned you it's not the most crazy, motivational story. This was literally just how it happened for me.
I know it's not very typical of a lot of diagnosing processes because I didn't have to go through a lot of loops and see lots of different people and get lots of different tests done. I was literally just blessed to be under the same team for nearly 3 years and because of that, they had seen every single thing that they had needed to see in that point. They'd seen my ups, my downs, everything! Because of that they were qualified enough to make that diagnosis and that was how it came about for me. So let me know your experiences with being diagnosed in the comments below.
Everybody is different and I guarantee that no one's story is going to be exactly the same as mine or as yours. But let me know how you were diagnosed and what your experience was in the comments below. Or if you are pursuing a diagnosis and you're trying to find someone who will give you that blessed moment of being diagnosed then let me know if you are that stage in the comments below as well. So like I said, I am filming a video a day this week - let's see how this goes.
Hopefully I can pull this off! But if you haven't already then you should definitely Subscribe and hit that little bell notification button so that you get notifications this week of when I upload because it's going to be very sporadic and you may not see things coming! But I hope you've had a really, really good day and I will see you tomorrow - bye guys!.
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