The Spectrum – Part 6 – Diagnosis: Help or Hindrance?

Is a diagnoses of autism a label, or a doorway to help? Some say that a diagnosis is unnecessary and pointless, whereas others make the case that they would never have got the help they needed for themselves, or their children without one. So is a diagnosis worth seeking? And if so, why?

Well first of all the case for not getting diagnosed seems to rest on the resentment of being given a label. But this is undermined by the fact that these same people argue that they don’t need a diagnosis as they know they have autism, and can help themselves without a piece of paper to confirm. But surely to say this they have to accept that they have autism, and are therefore autistic? So they are autistic, and admit to being so with or without an official diagnosis. But here is the catch; they can be as autistic as they like, but without a diagnosis they are not going to get any help or support, should they want help or support. Now whether this is right or not is a debate for another day, but right or not, it is the case.

The other factor at play here is the question `why is autism a bad label to have anyway?   If someone has black hair or green eyes they would be labeled as someone with black hair or green eyes, and think nothing of it. So why do people seem so keen to avoid a label of autism? Well some put it down to society’s still sadly overall negative view of autism. But others say that they feel they will be defined by a label of autism. An important question that has to be asked at this point is why? Autism is a part of who someone is for sure, and it`s a big part. But it`s there whether they are diagnosed or not. It seems strange that some people are so unwilling to accept a part of themselves, that they would happily go without help for the changes they may feel they want to make in their lives.

A diagnoses can have a two-fold effect on a autistic person. Firstly, just knowing for sure that they are autistic can be a relief, someone might have been struggling with parts of themselves, and their life for years, and had no clue why. Finding out that not only is there a good cause for this, but that a lot of other people might struggle with the same things can be a huge help on its own. But also, having a diagnosis gives someone access to a whole world of help: on-line communities, support networks in real life, and a whole wealth of information that is there to help people with autism.

It is sad to think that the idea of being known as having autism, or being autsitic is scary to some people. It`s also a pity that they fear it would become the defining part of who they are. The thing is, autism does impact on every part of day to day life, but it will do this anyway, with or without a diagnosis. What people have to decide is if they want to get help, or support with the parts of autism they find hard, or not. A diagnoses can be helpful, and there is a point to getting one – whether it defines the autistic individual or not is up to them. Some people think of autism as a negative label, but there are those who do feel it is a huge part of who they are, but are OK with this. The next article will talk about people who positively embrace their autism as a key part of who they are, as well as looking at whether autism is a label, a diagnosis or an identity.