Discovering My Autism Diagnosis During Quarantine (April 1, 2022)

Discovering My Autism Diagnosis During Quarantine (April 1, 2022)

The pandemic demanded that people spend more time with themselves, whether they liked it or not. I’m already naturally a homebody and prefer to keep to myself, but that solitude was more than even I was used to. During that time though, there was a lot of self-reflection which opened the door to more self-awareness, all of which led me to my self-diagnosis.


How Did I Conclude That I Was Autistic?

I was laying down one night last year, and it randomly hit me, “I’m pretty sure I have Autism…” I don’t remember what the train of thought was before that, or what exact situation led to that epiphany, but I remember feeling restless and smiling because deep down, I already knew. So, I got up and started taking a few online assessments and writing down the autistic traits/characteristics I have that helped lead me to that conclusion. Things really do hit differently when you take the time to start reflecting back on moments of your life and remembering situations through the lens and perspective of Autism. Life genuinely starts to make more sense and that brought me feelings of comfort, peace, and relief. There weren’t any feelings of anger, resentment, or sadness, it was more like, “that makes sense…” because at the end of the day, this was a part of my journey of deep self-reflection, self-love, and self-awareness during quarantine.


Is Being Self-Diagnosed A Real Enough Diagnosis?

While some say you cannot officially diagnose yourself with Autism, the realization and self-reflection you get from that step alone can start you down the path to a better understanding of yourself and can also ultimately lead to an official diagnosis, if you can or choose to get to that step. Unfortunately, the process of getting evaluated can be a hassle and can get overwhelming. I tried for months, but it is much harder to get an official diagnosis as an adult for multiple reasons, including health insurance coverage, finding a professional that actually can provide an adult diagnosis, and many health care professionals trying to immediately send you down the path of medication before learning about you, your journey, and your symptoms/traits (at least that was my experience). Within those months of trying to schedule an appointment with an adult diagnostic specialist though, I did speak with other health care professionals and members of non-profits for autistic adults, and we all agreed with my diagnosis. Sometimes, people look for an official diagnosis because it can help them get access to support, services, coaching, and medications that they couldn’t get without it. But at the end of the day, sometimes it ends at a self-diagnosis, and yes, that is still valid. It’s a personal decision.


My Autistic Trait/Characteristic Checklist:

  1. I prefer to do things on my own, rather than with others
  2. I am most comfortable with routines and prefer to do things the same way
  3. I find it frustrating if my schedule or routine is upset/changed
  4. I am very sensitive to certain noises and pick up on noises that others may not notice- I wear headphones to listen to music and use the technique of running water to drown out noises around me (much more since the start of the pandemic)
  5. I have a very vivid and strong imagination
  6. I find numbers and strings of information fascinating (number sequences, patterns, license plates, letters on signs, etc.)
  7. I am very good at picking up on people’s emotions, what they may be thinking, their body language, and their facial expressions- I am immensely empathetic and take on people’s emotions quite easily and strongly, which is a reason I tend to stay to myself a lot
  8. I notice very small changes in appearance and surroundings
  9. I am very detail-oriented and can be considered a perfectionist
  10. I like collecting information about things I’m interested in
  11. I have been making lists for as long as I can remember and have notebooks full of them- categorizing, organizing, and listing is comforting, relaxing, and something I genuinely enjoy doing
  12. I always felt out of place and socially awkward growing up
  13. Social situations make me anxious and uncomfortable, though I can handle myself when being in those situations is necessary, I avoid them when I can
  14. It’s important to me to carefully plan any activities I am going to do or be a part of
  15. If I am interrupted while in the middle of doing something, I can find it slightly difficult to get back to it afterward
  16. I catch myself making too much eye contact when people talk sometimes to show that I’m paying attention, and have to remind myself to look away once in a while
  17. If a thought pops up in the middle of a conversation, I try hard not to interrupt but I also try to get it out before I forget what I want to say, which can sometimes seem like I’m not giving someone a chance to talk or like I’m dominating the conversation
  18. I have strong interests and get upset if I can’t pursue them
  19. I find that others have a hard time understanding how I’m feeling and sometimes I have a hard time expressing it
  20. I can be blunt in my assessment of people and things, and sometimes it can come off as rude
  21. I find it upsetting sometimes when something happens that I didn’t expect to happen
  22. I find myself bothered if my things are moved or rearranged by someone else
  23. I have some difficulty multi-tasking and can get really involved in things I love, which can cause me to overlook other things I need to do
  24. I have a small friend circle and prefer it that way
  25. I don’t really like being the center of attention, especially in a large group setting, and prefer to be behind the scenes


A Few Key Things I Won’t Do After My Diagnosis:

1. Feel the need to prove how autistic I am to others, whether they are in the Autism Community or not

2. Try to mask my traits for fear of judgment or ignorance

3. Use the terms “high-functioning” or “low-functioning” to describe my “level” of Autism

4. Use my energy to entertain the “battle of preferences” in the Autism Community, which includes: red and gold vs. bluepuzzle pieces vs infinity symbol“autistic person” vs “person with Autism”, etc. because at the end of the day, the “majority” is not the whole and it comes down to respecting each other and each person’s personal preferences.


Why Didn’t I Get Diagnosed When My Son Was Diagnosed?

I already know some people are wondering why I didn’t get officially diagnosed when Jaiden was first diagnosed with Autism or why the thought that I may be autistic never really occurred to me while raising my autistic son. Jaiden’s pediatrician and a few therapists did suggest that I get tested and see if I had a certain chromosome that could explain Jaiden’s Autism diagnosis and I was constantly asked if anyone else in the family had it that could be the cause for it being passed down to him, but that way of thinking and the wording they used made me not want to do it because they were looking for someone or something to blame for my son being who he was, and I wasn’t going to go along with it. So, the short answer is that I was too busy defending and protecting my son from all of that and I wasn’t worried about me actually being autistic. Honestly, even if I was found to be autistic, nothing would have changed because my son would still have been autistic, and he was the one that needed the support and attention at the time. On top of that, Jaiden’s diagnosis was the first time I ever heard about Autism, and he was my first and only child, so I was pretty busy learning and being the best mother I could be for him.


Do I Have Any Concerns About Being Autistic?

I don’t really have any concerns. My only concern about my diagnosis wasn’t in the diagnosis itself, but in people’s misguided reactions and views once they heard about it because of the stigmas still associated with the word Autism. Now let’s not confuse that with feeling ashamed of my diagnosis, because that’s not the case at all. I fully embrace it and have no problem telling other people about it. I’m referring to the unsolicited pity and the “I’m sorry to hear that” because I have Autism (it’s annoying), the ignorant or negative statements I’ve been fighting against for my son since he was diagnosed (it’s tiring), or the “shock and awe” of what I’ve accomplished like I’m an exception to the rule of what autistic people can do (it’s not ok). The good thing is, I’ve been about this life going on 10 years and have already paved a path for myself and my son in the Autism Community and the world through our journey, this just gives me a slight, but significant title change from dedicated Autism Mom and advocate to dedicated neurodivergent Autism Mom and advocate.


Thank you for taking the time to read about this new chapter in my life and I hope this helps someone else in some way if they are curious about getting diagnosed as an adult. Whether it is a self-diagnosis or an official diagnosis, our stories matter!

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