To mark World Autism Awareness Week this week (1-7 April) Howard Childs, Autism Spectrum Disorders Practitioner, spoke to Chris* about his experiences of being recently diagnosed with the condition by our ASD and ADHD service for adults.
Chris, who is in his 30s, received his diagnosis from following a particularly difficult period in his life.
He is among around 800 adults across Surrey and North East Hampshire who are referred to the specialist service for an autism spectrum disorder assessment each year.
Read more to find out about Chris’ experience.
“Growing up I always wondered if I was different. As a small child I did not respond to people when spoken to and as a result it was thought I may be deaf. In my school years I found going to parties difficult and when I reached my teenage years I was much more interested in cars than I was in socialising like most of my peers.
“I have experienced anxiety and depression since my teenage years. To begin with I tried to deal this on my own but as the stresses of adult life built up this became more and more difficult. I have had support for depression and anxiety but it always seemed to me that this was treating the symptoms and not the root cause.
“As an adult I have become a motor mechanic. I am successful in my work and I am really thorough when carrying out MOT tests. I find changes to work schedules much more problematic than my colleagues and talking to customers can be challenging. I have three sons, two of whom are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and one is awaiting an assessment. I learnt about Autism Spectrum Disorders through their diagnoses.
“In June 2018 I was experiencing a very low period where I was not eating and drinking and was anxious in leaving the house. I visited A and E at the local hospital and was advised to go to my local Safe Haven. At the Safe Haven I had a discussion with a mental health nurse. I spoke openly about my history to the nurse and this really helped me deal with my negative thoughts and she also told me about the diagnostic team and counselling through the IAPT talking therapies service.
“Although my diagnosis confirmed what I expected and was hoping for I think it will take a bit of time to sink in and absorb properly.
“I now combine the cognitive behaviour therapy techniques with my ability to rationalise. I also apply the parenting skills and knowledge I have from my autistic sons to my own situation. I go with my sons to car rallies which we all enjoy very much. I have explained to my work, who have been understanding of my situation.”
*name changed for confidentiality.
- If you would like to be referred to the Adult ASD and ADHD service for an assessment, please visit your GP in the first instance.
- Mental Health Safe Havens are evening and weekend drop in services available at five locations in Surrey and NE Hants for those seeking mental health support. Find out more at www.sabp.nhs.uk/safehaven .
- For more information about talking therapies services available in Surrey please see the Healthy Surrey website: