It’s still a secret! The only person who knows is someone at Disability Support at my university, and that’s a confidential service. I asked for advice about next steps, and got a helpful email back regarding options – none of which look great.
In the UK, you can sometimes get a free referral via the NHS through your General Practitioner (local doctor who is the ‘gateway’ to services and also provides diagnoses and prescriptions for conditions that don’t need referral), although this route could take 12-18 months because of the waiting list for psychiatrists. For an adult who appears to be coping with life, there’s a strong chance a GP wouldn’t refer you.
If you took the private route, it would be a lot quicker, but would cost in the region of £800, and I’m not sure I really want to spend that kind of money unless the financial benefit is worth it. And here is the big question: with an official diagnosis, and support in the workplace, would I be more successful in my career? If the answer’s yes, then it would be worth it if there was no free referral. Additionally, there are laws in the UK against disability discrimination, and AS would come under that (although you can’t legislate for people’s gut reactions and possibly unconscious discrimination) so it could help protect me against losing my job.
There are other, cheaper routes to diagnosis through people who are well-respected in the field, but do not have the official medical qualifications. These are closer to £400, and are supposed to be quite reliable, but I suspect they don’t carry the weight of the pricier ones.
Whether I have AS or not (and I’m 99% sure I do), I’m certainly being held back by autistic traits. My employment history is full of short-term jobs and roles that I was overqualified for academically, of not progressing, or losing the job, through factors that are probably AS-related. So what I need are better social skills in the workplace. As I can’t access this kind of support from the relevant agencies, I figured books were probably a pretty good place to start. They’ve often helped in the past with skills such as how to tackle particular interview questions (and how they often don’t mean what they seem to), so if I can extend that to interaction more generally, that should help.
At the moment, I’m reading Ian Ford’s ‘A Field Guide to Earthlings.’ It’s helped me understand the principles behind neurotypical communication better, although it scares me a little how clueless I am about actually taking part in it. I’m no longer surprised by the number of misunderstandings I seem to have.
So now I’m asking for your help. Has anybody out there in blogland read books they think would help me?