Last January, I learned my mother had been told I had Asperger syndrome when I was eleven. Later, I would review the paperwork myself, and see the diagnosis was not a diagnosis, but the informal opinion of a Cleveland Clinic neurologist.
The week after that, the opionions of several friends and a psychiatrist I had known all of two hours made me doubt the opinion. But I still wanted closure on the question, so in the next few weeks contacted Marquette’s Autism Clinic to undergo a formal diagnosis. The waiting list was months and months long, and I only heard back from them in the early days of this current semester. For the last two months or so, I’ve been subjected to several structured and unstructured interviews, and cognitive and ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) tests.
I got the results this morning: In all three of ADOS’s diagnositc criterion, I scored within the range of Asperger syndrome. In interviews, I apparently displayed poor eye contact, formalized and idosyncratic speech, abnormally few gestures, and limited insight into social norms, also typical symptoms of Aspergers. My childhood history, marked by negative reactions to being held or touched, lack of immaginative play, and difficulty socializing outside my nuclear family also pointed to the diagnosis.
Also, though neuropsychological testing would be required to verify it by DSM standards, there is a strong indication I have a nonverbal learning disability, specifically a mathematics disorder. My difficulties with socialization have translated to an anxiety disorder, which itself begat dysthymic disorder, a chronic variety of depression.
I’m not really looking for sympathy in noting this, but think neurodiversity and mental health are topics worthy of disclosure, kind of like gay rights; the conversation will never change if no one speaks up.