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Getting an Autism Diagnosis During a Pandemic

December 2019:

I was really struggling with my mental health and nothing was appearing to help. I was therefore referred to my local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT). It was during my assessment with them that they realised I was potentially autistic, so I referred myself to the diagnostic service.

I was already very anxious about the process having never gone through it before and I did not know anyone who had gone through it as an adult. I tried to gather as much information as I could before my first appointment. Little did I know then that I would be going through this process in the middle of a global pandemic!

March 2020:

My first appointment came on 24th March, the first day of the national lockdown. Rather than being in person as I had researched, the pandemic meant that the appointment was done over the phone. This came with its own benefits and challenges.


I struggle with going to places I do not know on public transport so being at home was easier for me.

Being at home meant that I was in my safe space.


I find talking on the phone difficult, so my anxiety levels were high.

It meant I could not see the person assessing me which always puts a barrier in the way for me.

The assessment itself lasted between 2-2.5 hours and covered my experiences of change, school, special interests, sensory difficulties and friendships. A week later my mum had her appointment over the phone covering my early childhood.

What followed next was definitely the most difficult part of the whole process for me. I was told that they could not go any further with the assessment until they could see me face to face.

November 2020:

After eight months of waiting and trying to find out what was happening, I had my next appointment booked for 16th November, this time over Zoom. At the start of the appointment it was explained that the session would include:

· further questions,

· a break,

· a series of activities,

· another break,

· the decision over whether I was or was not autistic.

However, after the first break the diagnostic team came back and gave me their decision that I was autistic. I’m still not sure if it was the change in the schedule or the relief of finally getting the answers I needed, but I burst into tears.

Whilst it may not have been the experience that I spent so long researching at the start of 2020, I am so relieved to have some well needed answers for events throughout my life. I finally felt like I could begin to understand myself.


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