So… I have dedicated a lot of words in this blog to the importance of getting an official diagnosis when dealing with… Well… I’ve focused on Asperger’s and Autism, but really… It is important to get a diagnosis for ANY mental health issue… but that is not what I need discuss to today…
You finally listened… to me, to someone else, to the discovery channel… You swallowed it down and went and got your diagnosis. You are officially an Autist or an Aspie. You’ve got your “this awkward moment brought to you by” card…
So… Now… what do you do? How do you move forward…
Let’s start with one of the most important steps… ACCEPTANCE…
Normally, the word acceptance refers to other’s attitudes towards Autists… In this case, I am referring to the acceptance an Autist needs for himself. We have to accept ourselves… Not in the traditional way. We don’t need to accept our condition… We need to accept that there is something wrong with us… we need to accept the fact that we may need cognitive behavioral therapy, socialization, accommodations or additional social skill training.
It seems like a no brainer, but this is a major step. A diagnosis means that it got real. It means that we have been told that we have a life effecting condition that will never go away. It can be a lot to take in. What’s worse, is that most of are raised in an environment of understanding and care… which means that we are raised from an early age to believe that there is really nothing wrong with us… While a healthy dose of self esteem is important to mental and emotional health, it is makes it a lot more difficult to accept that we need to take the steps to help ourselves.
As much as it hurts (and believe me, I know how much it hurts, I’ve been there), you need to accept that there is (in spite of parental faith and love), indeed, something wrong with us.
So… you’ve accepted it. Now what?
Honestly, the next step is to find a specialist.
I hate to disparage people, but there are a lot of Psychologists that will argue with my next statement. You need a specialist. Most Psychs will say that they are equipped to handle an Aspie or an Autist, but they are wrong.
“Why is that, Feral One?”
Well… It’s like this. Your average psychologist has read a few articles on the conditions… That’s all the research they have done into our conditions… Well, that and the diagnostic criteria. That’s it… So… your psychologist is going to know that you need some skill training, maybe some medication and cognitive behavioral therapy… but that is it… they will not be able to come up with an effective treatment plan. Most suffer from pride, and will tell you that they are equipped to deal with it, but this is patently false in most situations.
By contrast, your specialist will have a good grasp on the issues associated with Asperger’s and Autism. There is a huge difference between knowing that Aspies have a tendency towards sensory issues and understanding the impact that sensory issues can have on an individual. Further, they will have dedicated a lot of time to understanding the condition, possible treatment programs, medications… AND they will be current on the research into Asperger’s and Autism.
Next… and this is the big one… Take the treatment program suggested by your specialist… and take it to heart. I know this seems like a given, but it isn’t… You really NEED to take what they have to say and RUN WITH IT. If they say you are need to try a medication, do it… Don’t read the side effects – because you’ll just give yourself a case of psychosomatic reactions… If they say you need to practice a specific cognitive technique, or a social skill… Step out of your damn comfort zone and just DO IT!
Embrace it. You’ve accepted that you needed a diagnosis. You’ve already accepted that you need help with some of these problems. You’ve spent the time and effort to find a specialist. TAKE THE ADVICE GIVEN YOU.
It’s not easy. It’s damn hard… I know… I’ve been in the thick of it. I’ve had to war with my own pride and brain to get to where I could improve as a human being. But let me tell you… It was totally worth it.
Images in this issue SHAMELESSLY stolen from the following sources: