Female with High-Functioning Austism?
February 24, 2019 3:22 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience with being diagnosed with high-functioning autism or Aspergers as an adult woman? Any advice on how to navigate this as an independent, professional working adult?

I recently posted a question related to treatments for anxiety and compulsive behaviors, but through further research I suspect I may actually be dealing with autism spectrum. In addition to the anxiety and compulsions, I have difficulty reading nonverbal social cues and tend to avoid eye contact and small talk, but always chalked that up to being introverted. I don't regulate my tone of voice and body movements well, and being in noisy or busy places will completely derail my ability to concentrate on whatever is in front of me. I am ambitious and intelligent but that can veer into obsession sometimes. And I struggle to accept and regulate my emotions in a healthy way; change tends to make me extremely uncomfortable, sometimes to the point of fear and paralysis. I cry a lot and sometimes have extreme emotional outbursts, though always in private. I am becoming more aware of feeling "different" the older I get, and I sense that other people consider me awkward as well; I don't make or keep friends easily and all of my romantic relationships have failed miserably. As a child I had some speech issues that required therapy; I could not pronounce "s" sounds. At the same time I was reading at a high school level in second grade. I have struggled with depression and anxiety nearly my entire life but have never responded well to medication or therapy, so I am looking for answers that may explain some of my experience.
posted by AnnaBegins942 to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
You need to begin with a formal, qualified assessment and diagnosis, and then you can find support groups for adult women with ASD and/or seek out independent occupational therapists.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:26 PM on February 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

This is sorta tricky, lots of qualified physicians are uncomfortable making formal diagnosis of adults with autism for convoluted reasons, and yet there is a growing number of professionals who are very aware of the under diagnosis of women of various disorders.

If theres not a specific reason to get a formal daignosis (for work or school accommodations for example) you may want to seek a therapist who seems knowledgable and a good fit.

I know my wife had a great neuropsychologist who did concrete interventions, talk therapy and a full psychological battery with her and it was really really useful. But ultimately the battery really just justified school accommodations, she could have gotten most of the useful stuff without it. If you are in the chicagoland area and would like her name, give me a pm.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:42 PM on February 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Look into the Autism self-advocacy network. You might want to read the book “neurotribes” and see if it resonates with you. It is all but impossible to get a diagnosis of autism as a female adult, even in cases where you’re clearly autistic, there is a very pronounced bias against Afab people in psychiatry and neurology so often a self-diagnosis is all you can get. Not to mention- you can get false diagnosis from doctors who don’t understand autistic adults- it took me years to shake off the label of bipolar when I don’t even have the disorder. From there getting a therapist who has experience in autistic Afab adults would be the next step, because of how hard it is to get adult diagnosis it would be highly unlikely- and the mark of a bad therapist- that one would turn you away because you were self diagnosed.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:15 PM on February 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Ccheck out the book, "Aspergirls" by Rudy Simone.
posted by ITravelMontana at 7:15 PM on February 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

One of the things my Autism-spectrum nephew has advocated for is that a diagnosis can be a huge relief, that the knowledge that it's a neurological thing, not some personal failing of not have tried hard enough, can be hugely helpful.

There are so many great resources to help make things better. Ask your doctor about getting a diagnosis. It may be difficult to get one, and it's fine to pursue other avenues as well, but it's clear that your symptoms are impacting your life a lot, so it's well worth trying to get more help.
posted by ldthomps at 10:15 AM on February 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Australian therapist Tania Marshall has written a great book called "AspienWoman" about the many ways autism manifests in AFAB folks, as well as advice to and resources for those who are considering assessment or newly assessed.

She also does assessments via Skype, which are less costly than the U.S. equivalents and might suit you if you want to be assessed for self-knowledge (not for U.S. disability accommodation).

I'm going to do an assessment with her in the next few weeks and will be glad to share info.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 11:08 AM on February 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

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