Monday, 21 May 2012

Me and Asperger's

While I am still working out my tag line and brand for writing non-fiction (I write about a few things), I am going to tell you about how I got to be diagnosed with Asperger's. It will be the first memory piece about living with it.

Two years ago, I was about to lose my job (in fact, it is two days ago this Wednesday which was my last day of work). I was going to have an interview for a part-time job, similar to the one I'd been doing for 20 years. Before the interview, my mum had read articles about children with Asperger's/Autism, and said 'Julie, why don't you read these?' I said no, too busy will read them later on. I had the interview and failed completely. They said my responses weren't quick enough for them, and I didn't answer the questions the correct way. In other words, I had misinterpreted what they asked. The weekend after that, I read the articles. And oh my, did I see myself and how I acted with people in these children mentioned.

Fast forward to Septemeber. I went to see my GP and asked to be referred for a diagnosis for Asperger's. He said no, the only hospital that did that was Maudsley. I was disappointed. But then a few days later, I had something wrong and went back and saw another GP. She was nice and said yes. Time went on. I got letters saying that my case had been stopped, and I thought that was it. No go. This was back in the February. I went to see my GP and asked her. No, it doesn't mean your case has stopped, just that they can't afford it. Still going ahead. Hurrah. Then sometime later, I got a long questionnaire to fill in for my interview. I filled it in and sent it off. Then in the March, I was at a talk in London, and when I got home, Mum said that she had got a call from them and they had a cancellation for the following week, and she had taken it for me. Hurrah.

The appointment was at Maudsley. We went into a small room with the psychologist and her assistant. I was asked about my health and personal background, and answered with the help of Mum. Then after a while, the assistant took Mum to another room, where Mum was asked questions about me and my childhood and growing up. I was asked the same, about my childhood at school, if I had friends, what I was like at secondary school and then work. Whilst answering these questions, it really brought home to me how I lived with undiagnosed Asperger's, esp when I was a child. I didn't make friends that easily, and usually tagged along with others that I thought were friends of mine. I had always thought I had been shy, but now I knew it was more than that. We had lunch, and then went back to see the two people. It turned out that Mum had answered more or less with the same replies to the same questions, and it was this that made them come to the decision I had Asperger's. We were both relieved, to say the least. Mum because she now knew what was wrong with me, having had suspicions since I was a child but not knowing what, and me because I had something to explain how I was with people, esp in groups and at work. When we got home, we told a few relatives and most of them said that they always thought something was wrong with me, and wasn't surprised with the result.

It was the light at the end of the tunnel. I will talk more at a later blog about some of my memories living with undiagnosed Asperger's, from childhood to working life.


Nell Dixon said...

I read this with a lump in my throat for you, Julie. Thank you for being brave enough to share your experiences.

Lesley Cookman said...

Thank you for this, Julie. Very brave. And you know that long questionnaire? My daughter has just received that to fill in or her son.

Julie Day said...

Thank you all who have commented, here and on FB. Esp for saying it is brave of me. Lesley, good luck with your grandson and his assessment. It might stir up thoughts about his childhood, it did for me.