This step for anyone with symptoms of a disability can be nerve-racking. It is also the most difficult part: Getting an appointment with a specialist, attending that appointment (possibly with a friend or family member), going through the testing, and in the end, hearing and/or reading what the doctor has to say.
Getting a diagnosis gives you three solid points in the right direction:
- Having a diagnosis lets you start seeking treatment for what you have, be assigned to somebody that may be experienced in your particular condition, and/or receive help in furthering your life.
- You can now make accommodation requests in writing, for work and school. In many locales, it is illegal for employers and educators to deny you any opportunities due to you having a disability.
- There are such a preponderance of non-profit organizations in existence throughout the world. Those non-profits may be able to point you in a direction of assistance, given that they usually have connections. They’re not insurance providers, but let’s not forget that not all mental health specialists take insurance.
While this page is about AS and not other disabilities, it is still a documented disability. Since AS is unique to every person, the treatments can vary. Considering the commonality of comorbidities with other mental illnesses, you never know what an Aspie is going to be dealing with.
The first step to beginning any form of treatment or progress plan, is to receive a diagnosis.
With Asperger’s being the invisible diagnosis that it is, it may be difficult for you and others to see it from you, but trained mental health professionals recognize the signs, symptoms, and also see you from a fresh perspective, without bias.
There are a few ways of going about getting a diagnosis:
- Speak to your primary care physician (or general practicioner) about getting a referral to a mental health specialist. When you get that referral and eventually make the appointment, the specialist will bill the appointment as a ‘diagnostic appointment’ that way it will be fully covered; the only thing you, the patient will most likely have to do, is pay a copay. Refer to your insurance carrier for the greatest detail.
- If you live in the United States, your PCP should have some resources for Autism specialists or clinics. Many PCPs are not up-to-speed on AS or even Autism, so if necessary, ask for the phone number(s) of area clinics; more often than not, they employ clinicians with experience. In many states, insurance companies are required to cover costs associated with diagnosis, therapies, and treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders. When you enroll with an insurance plan, you should receive an information packet, detailing what your benefits are and what phone numbers to call.
- Everywhere else, your GP has to give you a referral, and there’s paperwork to be filled out.
- If you don’t have insurance, or live in state where insurance doesn’t cover autism, do a Google search for non-profits that have experience in or provide services for people who are on the spectrum. The organization themselves, or an affiliate may be able to direct you to someone who can help you based on your needs (financially and otherwise).
- For those that live outside the US, whose taxes fund your health insurance, it’s likely that you can do the equivalent to what Americans to do, but you may have to go through paperwork and requests, in order to get treatment approved, then an appointment made.
Once you have a diagnosis, you can begin the quest of moving forward with your life, work, and educational pursuits. While everyone tends to make the same mistake- do not let labels define who you are. The only difference, at this point, is that you can now legally request accommodations that will help you succeed.
Acquiring work, once you have a diagnosis
Finding work isn’t easy for anyone. There are more people looking for work, than there are positions for those people to take.
While there are hundreds of thousands of adults with AS working regular jobs like everyone else, others aren’t as fortunate. Interviewing for a position can be tricky since some of the social norms that help the average person may not apply to an Aspie.
You can take two approaches: You can work with your counselor on some of those norms to see if you can make it through the interview successfully. You can also work with state agencies that help individuals that have disabilities to network with employers. Whichever road you choose, and if you are seeing a counselor, it’s advisable to update them on your employment situation.
Despite adversity that some Aspies face in the workforce, there are many pros:
- On a purely ethical level, there may be positions in a company that are best suited for someone with our condition. Insurance sales may be their Achilles’ heel, but perhaps a position behind the scenes would be best.
- Aspies generally know what their strengths and weaknesses are, but getting in the door can be a struggle. Relating to and with coworkers can be cumbersome and it may take extra effort, but it’s not impossible.
- Accommodations for people with Asperger’s is typically minimal. The common ones include: The allowance of an office that is furthest away from a lot of stimuli, exemption from certain company functions, a white noise machine to help filter out a lot of noise when trying to work on a project, or perhaps a modification of shift allowing the employee to stay past closing time to get things done without a lot of external stimuli.
- Aspies tend to have a high and proud work ethic that many employers would relish. In most companies and organizations, a high work ethic is paramount to any quality, short of high productivity. Usually when an employee treats you well and shows you that they care, you will produce results for them; a win-win for both of you.
- Aspies are a unique breed that have the uncanny ability to see things from different perspectives and points of view that the average person won’t. They can at times be very analytical and inquisitive, but it’s because they are trying to understand things from a different viewpoint, not because they’re trying to be a nuisance.
Also know that there are many folks out there who receive assistance or services because they have AS, that keep it to themselves because they don’t want to be defined by it.