This is a personal account of how difficult it is to find accurate and reliable information about autism interventions . Please note that it is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the views of Research Autism.
I am a 22 year old woman with a diagnosis of asperger's syndrome, diagnosed last year. I would like to contribute my life story to your website.
I only really became aware of my difference when I entered secondary school. Before that time, my parents were concerned, as were the teachers, and I received a Statement of Special Educational Needs when I was 10. This document described my interaction difficulties, but it was mainly concerned with my uneven academic performance: I had a mechanical reading age of 15, but my comprehension age was almost 2 years below my chronological age, I was good at science, but I had no number understanding. Because of these discrepancies a global IQ score could not be given. The teachers, however, merely called me an 'enigma'. I never paid attention in class, and I was often disruptive because I had so much energy. Yet I had a very good childhood, and I loved talking to other children, even if they were usually several years younger than me.
When I started secondary school, I experienced three failed friendships, and I could not fit into the group. I developed an extreme, all-pervasive, interest in the actress Kate Winslet, and I could think about nothing else. At primary school my only interests concerned food and the human body, but the interest in Kate Winslet was more extreme. I had also developed early signs of OCD during childhood, and my OCD worsened during puberty. I was scared of germs, preoccupied with food hygiene, and I took any safety scare or rule extremely literally. It got to the point where I stopped travelling, going up town, and I spent most of my time at home.
My parents encouraged me to seek psychological help, which I initially refused because I did not want to accept that I had difficulties. However, I eventually realised that my life had to change, and I got referred to the CMHT. I was diagnosed with OCD, but I knew that this was not the whole story. One day, while I was researching the Internet, I stumbled upon asperger's syndrome. All the symptoms, particularly the extreme interests and difficulties making friends, made sense to me. I had originally speculated that I might have a personality disorder. I was not aware that severe difficulties socialising, combined with egocentricity and singular interests, had a name.
I told my Mum, and she told me that she had always suspected I might be a little autistic, but she worried that such a diagnosis would impair my future life chances. I got referred through the NHS to a specialist autism team, and was finally diagnosed in March 2009. Despite my phobias, OCD, and singular interests, I did well in my GCSEs, only failing Maths, and I did very well in my A levels. I went to Chichester University where I earned a 2.1 Honours Degree in History.
My OCD is now under control, although I still wash too much, and I am eating out at several restaurants, using public transport, and I do plenty of volunteering. I am being helped by a support worker who is trained in asperger's, and she has helped me to become much more relaxed about things. In terms of friendship, there is only one girl from secondary school who I still keep in contact with, and who I can call a friend. But I do not see her that often, and I often feel deprived of company, even though I attend two asperger support groups. I would love to have just one close friend who I can see every day. I do not want more than one or two friends, but I do desire friendship. The next goal in my life is to move out of my parent's home, and I have seen a social worker who is helping to arrange this for me