In the last few days, articles about an NHS plan to reduce the number of people receiving autism diagnosis’ has been circulating the internet. It says that diagnosis’ will be reserved for the ‘most severe cases’, or cases where other conditions, such as depression, have been identified.
It’s worth mentioning that, at the moment, this only applies to NHS commissioners in South-West London. However, as with a lot of policies within the NHS and the government in general, it has the potential to create a domino effect.
With that in mind, I want to ask a very individualised question…
is getting an autism diagnosis worth it?
Although this blog post was inspired by the article, it isn’t the first time I’ve been asked that question. People I know in real life—and through this blog—have asked me the same question.
Now, of course, as autism is a very individualised condition, the answer will be different for everyone. Some autistic people may feel like their diagnosis has been very beneficial to them, while others will feel like not much has changed.
I wrote a little bit about how my life had changed in my one-year post diagnosis update. However, I thought I’d use this opportunity to go into more depths about what the diagnosis actually did.
It may sound dramatic that a piece of paper had the ability to save my life, but it’s true. I’ve spoken to people who knew me before my diagnosis and agree with me. I was in such a downward spiral before I received my diagnosis that something had to stop me from going over the edge.
In that effect, autism was my roadblock. A positive roadblock… like a barrier that prevents you from falling into a sinkhole.
I’ve spoken to others who received a late diagnosis who have faced similar experiences. You see it a lot, where people say they knew something was different, but not what.
A lot of my autistic traits were blamed on mental health problems prior to my diagnosis. Anger became a normal emotion for me because of the things I couldn’t change about myself, and I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough to be normal. I masked everything in social environments, but I suffered for it at home. At the time, I had no explanation to explain why I found things so much harder than other people did.
Do you know how low your self-esteem can get when you’re trying to change things that aren’t wrong? When you’re fighting against yourself when you should be embracing your differences? Trust me, there were years when I thought myself unworthy to live because of them.
So, is an autism diagnosis worth getting?
For me, yes.
My diagnosis has allowed me to live in a way that I couldn’t before. It’s raised my self-esteem and made me believe that I am enough, just as I am. Unlike people think, it hasn’t stopped me from pushing myself, either. Rather, it has made me a lot more understanding and accepting of my limitations. Most of all, though, it has helped me learn the importance of respecting myself, above all else.
I completely understand those who don’t want to get a professional diagnosis, too. It can be degrading and involves a long waiting list with no certainty of the intended result at the end.
However, is it really up to the NHS to make decisions about whether or not someone presents as ‘severe enough’ to go through the process? People—especially females—mask symptoms so well that an initial appointment with a GP isn’t enough to make a judgement call.
I wasn’t referred to get a diagnosis under usual means, but I know if I had been, this ruling would have likely stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t until I had three sessions with different professionals that they unveiled ‘classic traits’ that I’d hidden from the world for seventeen years.
I’d love to hear opinions from other people about this in the comments below. Do you agree with the ruling? Do you think the NHS has to start making cutthroat decisions in order to survive? Or, are you more on the side that understands the importance of receiving a diagnosis that has the ability to change someone’s life? Let me know!
Thanks for reading, and until next time,