this is the third time filming this video the first time because I didn't know what I was saying. So now I wrote a script. The second time, I filmed the whole video, and it was out of focus. So the so this the third time, and I got my sister to focus it for me. So hopefully, fingers crossed, this will actually be in focus. So welcome to my video about my journey of diagnosis for ASD, which is Autism Spectrum Disorder. So I had a lot of people on my Instagram asked me to make this video plug at Ruby of my I follow me on Instagram, about the diagnostic journey of being diagnosed with autism, especially as a female because as I will discuss, it's a lot harder for us to be diagnosed. Just before we start this video, I'm just going to kind of give you a bit of context to me, I have been officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist, this was confirmed by about three doctors and two counselors who have had ongoing interactions with me. So that is all confirmed, I have my official paperwork, I'm also doing a master's degree. And in my master's, I am studying females with autism in the theatre industry. So I am researching autism on a daily basis. But obviously, I don't know everything. And I just wanted to give you a bit of context of where my knowledge is coming from. It's through that research. Lastly, I work with adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. I'm also integrated into the autism community weekly when I run those workshops, and that Theatre Company for those adults. So just to give you a bit of context about where I sit within the community, where my knowledge is coming from, and also personal experience. Okay, so the first thing that people were asking was, how did I know that I was autistic? And actually, this came as like quite a long process of me like discovering different things. But the short answer is, in first year of university, I met my housemate who is still very good friends with and her sibling has autism. And she was telling me about their struggles and the things that kind of impact their daily life. And a lot of it resonated with me. And I was like, Oh, actually, that's something that I struggle with as well. And it didn't really go much further than that. But it kind of just started planting that seed. And then I believe Channel Four came out with a series about autism. And they had a test online where you could like, test to see where you sat on the spectrum. And all of my housemates did it. And they all got very normal scores. Now I'm using normal in quotations because normal is a contested term, I don't believe anyone is normal. But for the context of this test, there were normal scores, which were sitting in the low or mid range of that scale,
I was getting quite high results. And and again, this wasn't necessarily anything that I thought too much of. But at the end of the test, it was like this, absolutely not a diagnostic test. But it may be something that you want to consider that you may be on the spectrum, and you can move further with it if you want. And I don't think I did anything until second year where I found a lot of difficulties. And that's where it started to kind of process a bit more that I may be autistic. And I started that journey. I will tell you the befall journey a bit later. But first, I'm going to go back to more of the sister diagnosis that I currently have that made more sense in leading to that official diagnosis of ASD. So they either have a learning disability or struggle with mental health. And that is usually something that comes alongside like hand in hand with ASD. And I was actually diagnosed with dyslexia when I was about nine years old. So that's something that I have just been getting extra help with just a bit of extra help with my English. I also struggle with spelling and reading, reading out loud, and translating my thoughts onto paper. So I had that diagnosis. And then when I was 12, I got diagnosed with ga D which is generalized anxiety disorder. And I'm not a psychologist, but I believe the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder is you can have anxiety and you can be anxious. And it's more like a short period when you have anxiety disorder. It's more like prolonged so I have had anxiety disorder since I was a child. It's just been my whole life. I've always had anxiety, it's integrated. It's part of me,
I'm just an anxious gal. So I already had those two diagnosis and often. Autism is misdiagnosed. In females as anxiety, because a lot of our struggles present through those like anxious responses, and it's now but I can recognize, those responses are even more heightened. And that's what helped lead me to my diagnosis. But at the time, it was kind of just Oh, she's anxious. And that's me having my anxiety response rather than than my autistic response, which we now know what's
hope that makes sense.
So I'm going to talk about the things that I struggle with as a child, I, I believe that I was quite good at communication. As a child, I did a lot of masking and camouflaging, which is something that is very common in females with autism. And basically what this is, is we watch the people around us and we kind of copy that behavior. So we're very good at,
watching how someone else will behave and taking that on for ourselves. And I think the difference is where that's second nature to some people, it's still something that I have to consider. So for example, with eye contact, people probably do eye contact quite easily. And I find eye contact easy, but every time I have a conversation with someone, my brain goes remember to give eye contact. So it's just a very proactive thing that I need to do that I actually have to remind myself to do rather than it coming naturally. And I apparently sometimes give too much eye contact, which I did not realize was also the other side, sometimes it's not good enough, sometimes it's is giving too much. But now I recognize that. So with females with like, masking, that's why it can be quite difficult for us to get diagnosed because we present neurotypical and we have learned how to adapt and how to camouflage and
look neurotypical or appear neurotypical because we don't want to be different we don't want to, like be an outcast or, or anything like that. And that's not like other people have made us feel like that. But we live in an a blessed society and it is coming from a place of Intel The world is kind of viewing disability on the same level as neurotypical we are going to sit within that place of of needing to hide our disability. And that's what females do over males. So I was very good at eye contact. I felt like I was quite empathetic, I'm very good at understanding other people's emotions. It's usually my own that I struggle with of like recognizing my emotions. I definitely had a lot of confusion over why people wanted to wear certain clothes, or why people would want to look like they fit in. So it was more visual to me, I didn't really understand why one that I felt I felt the need to fit in. But I couldn't understand why. Didn't make sense to me, I had no idea. I didn't really have many friends around tween age like, like, nine to
But I had quite a few before then. And like I mean with all my friends. I didn't. But I felt like I was kind of masking pretty well at that point. And then when I was a teenager, it kind of spiked as a lot of mental health does. My anxiety got really bad, and then kind of coming into adult life. The things I struggle with are like eating regularly, I have huge issues with sensory sensory are my main ones. So smells can be really overwhelming. But then also, like, certain smells are hugely comforting, so I can be comforted by a smell, but then I can be incredibly overwhelmed. Touch is really difficult for me, the way I describe it is it's like if you have a whole load of bread crumbs in your bed, and you're like snuggle down. That's what physical contact feels like. To me, it's hugely uncomfortable. So just make sure that if you are around someone with autism, you are conscious that some of us can be incredibly tactile so incredibly cuddly, but some of us can be the complete opposite. So it's okay to ask it's okay to ask how people like that kind of
Sounds acutely sensitive to sound I can hear sound from like quite far away and it's quite loud and jarring and and really, it is a physical response to means it's quite difficult. A huge one of my triggers is thunderstorms. It's very intense. And it's a huge sensory overload for me, I actually kind of get paralyzed, I can't move, I can't speak and I have quite strong medication that I have to take, which essentially will make me fall asleep, because my brain literally can't like compute the amount of sensory overload that I'm going through in that moment. And that's really difficult. I'm not going to go into everything, because obviously, we could be here for hours. But there are a few simple things like, I have to eat on time, I eat at
for lunch, and 7pm for dinner, or I'll forget to eat. So not a main priority for me, I have to write down to remind myself to shower, to brush my teeth to do my skincare. Because again, like these are things that go out of my head. And I genuinely do need to remind myself about I forget to take my medication all the time, which is hugely difficult, because you think that you currently set an alarm, but it just goes out my head, it's just not a priority.
I find change difficult, in the sense that I need to process it, I can handle change, but just tell me Give me time. Just like typical triggers, like the underground, it's very loud, it's very confined that a lot of smells, a lot of sounds a lot of people, you can't move, you can't get out like a lot of situations where I can't escape from those are very difficult for me. I don't like the cinema. I don't like the theater. The cinemas are too loud. The theaters You can't escape from and I'm frightened about what's going to
stage. Yes, I'm
a theater student. Yes, I know. It's ironic, whatever. So the process itself. I, in second year, went to the doctor and was like, Hey, I think I am autistic. Can I be tested please? Me, I was like, hey, come in and see us. So I did. And then I filled out the tick box questionnaire. And this.
tick box that they use is from their research of males, that is beginning to have research about females coming out. But we are hugely under researched. And so it's quite difficult because it presents that like autism presents itself completely differently in males and females. So we are often really difficult to diagnose. And so this textbox is very male, like symptom heavy, but I still managed to hit that score, which means, yes, you qualify for further testing.
So I did that.
I think it took a year to get a psychiatry list. And then I had my initial consultation, they hadn't sent out the paperwork, they hadn't told me that I needed to bring a family member with me. So that meant it was delayed, it was another six months until I finally got my paperwork, I filled all that out. We're now moved into third year, where I had my appointment with my mum, it might have been fourth year. But I had that appointment and then took three months to get the diagnosis. And then they didn't tell me for another five months. So they have diagnose me and they didn't tell me despite saying that they were going to support me and they were going to tell me places I could go for further information. And I did not have a good experience in that particular center. I felt like the doctor was very dismissive. He was writing stuff on my report about my physical appearance, saying that because I had piercings, it meant that I didn't have autism, because I had just come from rehearsals, and I was wearing like gym clothes. But
that meant I didn't have autism. And I felt it was very difficult. But actually through that process, we were very prepared to go to someone else.
It's quite common. If you look on like autism sites, when it says about females, it's it says that it's quite common. You might have to go to a few doctors because of how unresearched This is, but actually I was quite lucky in he did actually find enough evidence for me to be diagnosed with ASD. And I didn't have to go to someone else because it would probably have taken another four years. And it's not that it's gonna affect my education. It doesn't affect anything other than me having an under standing off myself, and others have an having an understanding of myself, I felt so much of my life was me being difficult, and me just not having a place not fitting in. And feeling like I constantly was a burden or tricky for other people. And having this diagnosis just means that it makes sense. Everything makes sense. It's not that I am difficult, it's that I'm different. And I need alternative things. And that perspective allows me to be hopefully a more empathetic theatre practitioner when I work in inclusive theatre. And I have that experience, I have that firsthand experience of what it's like to kind of be pushed aside because of your struggles or your symptoms. So hopefully, I can start to create a more inclusive theatre space, but it's tricky. I was going to do a q&a on the same day. But this is tiring, it's very tiring. And so I'm actually going to leave it and I'm going to upload this video and allow you to leave any more questions and I will film it in the next few days. So I will allow your responses to this video. So if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below and I will answer them. I am also asking questions on my Instagram. I'm going to pull it again after a bit of my eye. So feel free to follow that. And if you have any other comments, I'd love to hear your stories of diagnosis. But thank you so much for suggesting this. If you know me, you know that I'm very worried to make this video. But I hope you'll all be nice to me. And I will see sin in an upcoming video so stay safe. Hope you're all good bye