Nicole,

You’ve raised many valid points. No, I didn’t go into great depth. The point of the article wasn’t to prove my diagnosis to the reading audience, but rather to describe my journey.

And you’re right, there is a different standard for me because I’m a psychologist who is licensed to diagnose mental, developmental, and personality disorders. In order words, I am licensed to diagnosis autism. I don’t because it’s not my subspecialty, despite me having extensive training as a child psychologist with several years of experience working with that population.

And yes, you are also right there aren’t clear diagnostic categories in identifying older undiagnosed females. Several researchers are working on criteria, but the field is woefully behind.

A clinical licensed therapist made the recommendation I look into autism in regards to myself. I have not been formally diagnosed but I have completed Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R) which has been shown to be accurate and reliable in the diagnosis of autism. My score indicated autism. I wasn’t neurodivergent, but clinically positive for autism. My son has been formally diagnosed, and my deceased father most likely had it. My other two sons show definite signs of neuroatypical presentations.

I didn’t include the LONG list of symptom presentation that I suffer. It would have been boring to read.

After learning of my autism, I contacted two friends: one who has been formally diagnosed and another who taught autistic children. Both told me they had suspected I’m autistic before my diagnosis based on their independent observations.

So, here’s the thing that bothers me. Why do I need to prove this to you? After all, I’m a clinical psychologist licensed to assess and diagnosis mental disorders. Isn’t that enough credibility? What is the concern?

What disturbs me is the growing doubt about late-diagnosed women’s legitimacy. What’s the fear? That many of us have successfully married, raised children, and had careers? That we are too functional?

Remember, I had no support. None. I was forced to blend it. I had to hide my stimming. I was not allowed to opt-out. Yet, I spent years alone on the playground, bullied mercilessly, and left to figure out on my own how to handle debilitating anxiety. In fact, I learned how to avoid using the restroom for eight hours a day during school hours due to severe anxiety. Pretty sad.

I also suffered catastrophic abuse and violence due to my vulnerable nature.

So, yes, I blend in very well these days. I’ve learned how to hide many of my oddities and social anxieties. I am a fantastic camouflager.

Honestly? It’s a relief to let some of this go. I finally feel like I can be my authentic self and stop trying so damn hard all the time.

I let the audience in on a very private event in my life in the hopes I could help others like me. So, please, why does this matter? What the worst that could happen if there is an influx of late-diagnosed adult women to enter into the cohort of the autistic population?

Written by

Psychologist/Author. Quora & Medium Top Writer. Mom of three, Autistic woman, Relationship expert kerry@kerrymcavoyphd.com

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