Growing up, I was always known as the ‘shy’ child, I didn’t speak much when I met new people, liked my own company and was not the party type. I used to get invited to birthday parties and mum said I always wanted to go, but when I got there I would just cry and scream, then end up being taken home again. Also, I didn’t like loud noises or busy places (still the same now!).
I had friends at school, but enjoyed being alone too; approaching someone to make friends isn’t something I did. As the stereotype goes, I used to love rowing up toy cards, ordering things in size, colour or alphabetical order. I used to collect these small figures called ‘GoGos’. I wouldn’t trade, play or do what everyone else did with theirs; I’d sort them in different ways for hours. Obsessing with things was something I did, whether it was Bob, the Builder or Postman Pat, I loved things so dearly- I even used to demand to be called Bob or Pat by the pre-school staff!
I always was a picky eater, everything plain, dry and what I was used too. After all that (and probably more), why did no one notice I was autistic!
No One Noticed
Maybe it was because I did have friends?
Maybe it was because I could talk and didn’t have difficulties with motor skills?
Whatever the reason, it went unnoticed. Let’s skip ahead to middle school now. All the way through my life I knew I felt different. But when I was 9 and starting a bigger school, it was noticed more. Everyone was going out, had loads of friends and all talked about boys and girls and makeup and
sport. I was just happy with one friend, only seeing each other at school and enjoying club penguin all by myself. Now is probably the point I should mention the fact I am transgender, it comes up again a bit later but the rest wouldn’t make sense if I didn’t say; I’m a boy but I am biologically female and grew up that way until I was 13, we’ll come back to that later.
Anyway, I thought I should start to try and fit in. I made friends with one girl who was lovely, well, I thought she was. But, looking back, she was controlling. She lied a lot and was quite rebellious and, as we now know, my autism kind of stopped me seeing that. We fell out then I met a new group of friends. I started going out to the town and the cinema with them and it was enjoyable and I have great memories. However, I will never forget the rising anxiety I felt before I would go and having to be the one who organised it so I knew exactly what was going on.
Skipping to age 12, year 8. The feeling of being different continued, this is when I started questioning my gender. I felt confused, alone and upset with the way my body was changing and I couldn’t control it. I started self-harming as a way to control something and my body. Getting depressed and at times feeling suicidal happened often. The school found out and so did my family and they were very helpful and got me help. I got help first in February 2015, from a life coachman who helped teens with school stress and general wellbeing. He helped and I still speak to him now but, it didn’t stop my thoughts.
Mum and the school got in contact with a local counselling place that helped me stop self-harming and now it’s not really a problem, only very rare now. That is when I came out as Trans and I was passed on to CAMHS as they could help more with that and my decreasing mood. They met me in August 2015 and I had a course of psychotherapy to help discuss gender issues and mood issues. Then I was referred to a specialist therapy place in London called the Tavistock which is the Gender clinic for under 18’s. Just after this is when ASD was first discussed.
The person who takes care of me at CAMHS and my therapist discussed it and got my psychiatrist session to asses for depression. Then my therapist left. I was diagnosed with social anxiety and put on a course of CBT with a new counsellor. She was lovely; we learnt mindfulness which I find so helpful and how to control thoughts. It was difficult but helpful. She bought up ASD with me when we discussed friendships and social issues which came with starting upper school. Tavistock also suspected it and asked us about it. Fast forward to April 2017, we discussed it with CAMHS again and they said they had thought about it too.
That brings us to the end of Part one, Pre-Diagnosis.
Look out for part 2 where I discuss being diagnosed.