There is much debate over the validity of a ‘self-diagnosis’ for neurodivergent people. This site fully supports the right for people to self-diagnose and find a sense of self within our “community”. The reality of the case is that the vast majority of people seek a formal diagnosis precisely because they think they may diverge from neurotypicality. I know I did. I was on the receiving end of 3 different incorrect diagnoses before I was given my clinical accusation of autism. One of them was Borderline Personality Disorder, and I knew this wasn’t me so I challenged it. The Psychiatrist smugly held up a piece of paper and pointed out that many people with BPD challenge the diagnosis, so I had proved his opinion correct. I’m not sure he had heard language like mine in his consultation room before but he stuck to his decision.
I then spent hours, days, years reading articles, books, blogs… well anything and everything related to mental health and cognitive difference. Then I discovered this thing called Asperger’s syndrome. It fitted. I self-diagnosed, but knew this was correct well before I met with the Clinical Psychologist for confirmation. She agreed. I had finally found out which banner I should march behind – if I ever plucked up the courage to do that sort of thing! I read a post this week from a Clinical Psychologist who said he had never met anybody who self-diagnosed who wasn’t correct in their conclusion.
Let’s keep in mind that there could be any number of reasons why a person doesn’t get a formal diagnosis; I tried through the NHS via my GP but was told that as I was an adult – and a ‘high functioning’ one (their words) then the priority for funding would go to children. I get that on many levels, but won’t pretend that I wasn’t furious at the time! What about me? What about the challenges I faced? I was lucky enough to have a credit card that I could max out and go private. I still resent this now, all these years later.
Because society doesn’t value disabled people, we are often left struggling on our own. Alone. To access support, we have to prove our disability… on a daily basis. We have to prove we ‘deserve’ funding and it will remain this way whilst we remain under the grip of neoliberalism and capitalism. We will never be ‘insiders’ within this system, so what would possibly be gained from self-identification as autistic? You won’t be able to access support in workplace or society, but if you have been through the distress and trauma of not knowing who you are and your place in the world, then you will understand it. If you can find a ‘name’ for why you don’t fit, then you seize it and embrace it. You are pretty much sure to be correct.
Maybe the person doesn’t feel the need to seek a formal diagnosis, maybe they are too afraid of the stigma and negativity that come with it. They may still feel the need to reach out to others like themselves; I know I did! This is the joy of the connected world we live in, it is easier than ever before to reach out and find a friendly contact. If you are self-diagnosed then please do reach out.
There are some elitist sites who deny access or recognition to people without a formal diagnosis, yet rail at the arbitrary nature of clinical psychology and the vagaries of their stereotyped opinions of who and what we are based on our behaviour. Double standards abound in the online autism world. Ignore their ignorance, I’m sure they have their reasons, but they are undoubtedly flawed.
If you do self-diagnose as being neurodivergent, then you are very welcome here. We probably have a lot in common…or not…but that’s OK too.