I’ll begin this by simply saying: a self diagnosis — whether it’s ADHD or Autism — is perfectly valid. And anyone around you that has a problem with it? It speaks far more to them than it ever does of you.
That all said? I self-diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 37.
Then, two years later in 2021, I would pursue an official diagnosis.
I entered that evaluation thinking, okay – I’ll come out of this with my diagnosis of ADHD and that’s it.
But it wasn’t.
I walked out of my evaluation as an Autistic and ADHDer adult.
The Path from Self Diagnosis to Official ADHD Diagnosis as an Adult
I had been sitting with that self-diagnosis of the inattentive ADHD for about six months before I finally started looking into more. I’d taken several other self tests kind of like inventories, if you will. And I found that I was consistently scoring fairly high on point for having autism.
But with all of that said, I was still just going for the diagnosis to kind of confirm the inattentive ADHD.
The thought that I could also be autistic was still in the back of my mind, but more of an after-thought at that point.
During my diagnosis for ADHD my evaluation. I walked away with that official diagnosis, ADHD inattentive type with the additional diagnosis of autism.
And it wasn’t until after that, when I had, you know, three or four days to just kind of sit with it and process and really look back and think on all that things in my life that I’ve done to to fit in, whether it was trying to fit in as a child or fit in as a teenager.
Or just simple things.
And looking at all the strategies that I put into place to support my autistic daughter and to change the environment around her, how much those things were also helping me. So having things like the routine and the structure and the schedules to ease her transitions and to create more predictability and stability for her, it was also helping me in a very big way without me even realizing it.
I’ve also learned, you know, throughout this whole thing that there’s this expectation almost of what a typical autistic or typical ADHDer is supposed to look like. And there’s a lot of stigma around it. You know, that you can’t be a successful individual and be autistic or you can’t be a successful individual and have ADHD.
And that’s absolutely not true. Individuals, you know, to name celebrities like Dan Akroyd and Anthony Hopkins, for example, Temple Grandin or just a few of the famous autistics that I can think of.
And then you look at those with ADHD, there’s Simone Biles, who is one of the most decorated gymnasts ever.
And arguably one of the greatest gymnast of all time, she has ADHD.
So you can’t tell me with all that’s around us, that. Autistics and ADHDers can’t be successful. And then that also extends to everyday people. Do we still struggle with things? Absolutely. We struggle with things and they’re always going to be struggling.
There’s always going to be things that we struggle with on a day to day basis, whether that’s with executive dysfunctioning or with emotional regulation or with schedules, routines. Or social interactions. I know for me, from a very young age, the social piece was one of those things that I quickly picked up on that I studied. You know, I’m a people watcher and I like to watch people’s behavior, their language, their mannerisms, and all of that.
I don’t think I realized until later on, exactly what I was doing. So all this time, what I’ve been doing in order to fit in and to, you know, get this kind of acceptance was really masking and it was masking autistic masking.
It was ADHD masking.
And, growing up, I was the overly sensitive yet still kind of shy child, but I was always seeking somewhere to fit in.It just kind of baffles me that then, you know, this was like late eighties, early nineties. We could not kind of fathom that there were autistic girls who were acting; then we would have been called high-functioning, which that’s another rant for another day.
Or at least another topic for another day.
Because we were not struggling in the stereotypical ways or in the ways that society has come to believe. And instead we’ve grown up with these strategies, especially the masking as basic survival strategies to fit into a neuro-typical world that just was not meant to support neurodivergent people.
So now as an adult, who, again, this is why I pursued that official diagnosis. I feel especially as a late diagnosed autistic ADHD, or I was diagnosed at the age of 39. So I’ve spent, 30 plus years with this survival strategy in place to mask to better fit in, to appear like a functioning adult and in many ways, yeah, I am a functioning adult.
I have three children. I, you know, I, I can meal plan to some extent I can follow recipes. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. I’m a highly intuitive person and I haven’t let the labels, any label in life ever define me, unless it was the label that I personally chose.
The reason I pursued that diagnosis was so I could embrace that fully. I’m an autistic ADHDer. I’m a female, I’m 39. I also have anxiety and depression. So these are things that they all, you know, it’s part of who I am.
But if you are on the fence though, about self-diagnosis versus pursuing an official diagnosis, the main reasons I would advocate for an official diagnosis are for workplace commendations and if you are doing research into medication and it’s really to support yourself in again, in a world that was not fully set up to support neurodivergent people.
If you are processing a self-diagnosis or an official diagnosis and want to discuss strategies or something else? Schedule a complimentary call. My calendar is open.