Because I have personal experience being a mother to children on the spectrum, I always find articles like this interesting. Last year while I was working on a paper for school, I encountered a topic I had never thought of; that is, adults who are diagnosed with autism as an adult. My question is What’s The Point?
I’m really not trying to sound insensitive towards people like Jerry Seinfeld, or anything like that. I really am just curious why as an adult; in particular, successful adults like Jerry Seinfeld really need to diagnois themselves with autism.
Like I’ve mentioned before, when my sons were much younger the possibility of autism would come up and I would completely dismiss it. In fact, I had them tested and brought them to specialists just to prove that they weren’t on the spectrum. I went to IEP meetings and challenged the teachers who needed to find an educational diagnosis to continue special education, and by means of a checklist came up with autism. If anyone mentioned the diagnosis, they were (in my opinion) clearly wrong.
So here’s the funny thing about that: All three of my sons, at some point were tested and I was informed that they did not have Autism. I would walk away from those meetings feeling a great sense of relief. At the same time, I felt a little unsettled because comparing my children to other children I could see the differences in their development. The biggest clue was that their language was delayed. I was overjoyed that my oldest son could say “nanas” (bananas) and a couple of other words; then found out that a lot of other children his age were saying a hundred words. But still, I “knew” that he did not have autism.
For a while I went through a phase where I was convinced that my sons were going to defy all odds and be the ones that could not be diagnosed, ever. Or they’d be the ones that would spark the discovery of a new diagnosis. But that day never happened.
(Sidenote to that: I personally know people who have children with undiagnosed developmental disorders, meaning that no doctor or medical professional has been able to pinpoint a diagnosis, even when there are uncharacteristic traits present. There are still unidentified disorders out there.)
As my boys started getting older one of the things that I started to worry about was that my children would grow up and get swallowed up in the “system,” because they didn’t have a diagnosis. So I got the recommendation for a good testing center and set up evaluations for all three of my sons, who were all in the next year or so diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
Of course, Jerry Seinfeld is self-diagnosing so it doesn’t necessarily mean he has Autism (Thanks to the internet and WebMD you can diagnose yourself with virtually anything you can think of, these days; right?). Then again, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t have it, either.
Regardless, I find it interesting when individuals are diagnosed with autism in adulthood. Maybe it’s validation, a need to belong, an identity thing. I don’t know, I’m sure they have their reasons.
As for me, I am glad that my boys got a diagnosis when they did. It makes navigating the world a lot easier. It also validates the fact that it was not my parenting skills that caused the delays but rather, something that was beyond my control. A disorder.
What I really don’t get are the posthumous diagnoses. Did you know that Adolf Hitler, Michelangelo, and Mozart (among many others) are all suspected as being on the spectrum? And that they were diagnosed after they died? Uh huh. This changes absolutely nothing. For one thing, they’re all still dead.
(I hope that they’re wrong about Hitler. I don’t want my kids lumped into the same category).
Anyways, what is the point? This is what changed when each of my sons were diagnosed with autism: Nothing.
Years from now this is likely going to be non-issue. Even 20 years ago autism wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today. It isn’t necessarily because there is a rise in diagnoses, but rather, an increased awareness. The signs are detected far more earlier these days; even in infancy now.
So maybe it’s not a bad thing for adults to be diagnosed. The point?
It’s a sign of progress, and that’s a good thing.
You can find the link to the article here