Relief: Receiving an Autism Diagnosis as an Adult, By Becca Lory

Relief: Receiving an Autism Diagnosis as an Adult
By Becca Lory

I am often asked what it felt like to get an autism diagnosis at age 36. As an active Autism Advocate, writer, and public speaker, when I say often…I mean OFTEN.
I struggled for a while with how exactly I could describe that moment. One day I realized I was struggling, not because I didn’t have an answer, but rather because it wasn’t one single moment. It was a series of moments. There was the moment I first read about autism, the moment I decided to seek a diagnosis, the moment I began my evaluation, the moment I was told the test results, and, most importantly, the moment I first said it aloud about myself. I am autistic. But the one single word that ties all of those moments together is relief. Yes, relief.

I had been told for as long as I can remember that I was stubborn, lazy, manipulative, over dramatic, and mean. At the early age of 5 or 6, I had been to the first of countless psychologists and psychiatrists who would over the years label me as school phobic, social phobic, depressed, and anxious. From my early teens on, I had been medicated for everything from panic disorder to manic depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Basically, I had spent a lifetime hearing that something was wrong with me and worse, believing to my deepest core that I was broken and unfixable. As soon as I stumbled upon what was then called Asperger syndrome, now Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), I knew my life would never be the same. What I didn’t know was how much better it could be.

I remember the day I read about autism for the first time. I remember the day I began my evaluation. I remember the day I was told that I officially belonged on the autism spectrum and I remember the day I first said aloud, I am autistic. What I remember about those days is both good and bad. None of it was easy. Yet along with each and every moment of that part of my journey, I evolved, I learned, I grew, and I was relieved. I was NOT broken. I was NOT unfixable. I was NOT a lost cause. And most of all, I was NOT alone.

It turns out there are a lot of us who have survived decades without the skill sets we require, without having our needs addressed, without the proper vocabulary to describe what is happening in our brains and bodies, and without knowing why the world feels so much like an alien planet. But I am one of the lucky ones. I know now. I can adapt to my needs, face my challenges, and enjoy my gifts. I even get to share my experiences and educate others about what it is like to process the world through a unique filter. I am part of an incredibly supportive and loving community that we call the spectrum. And it is a relief. Being able to love yourself for exactly who you are is a relief. Having others love you for it too is an even bigger relief.
I am a woman. I am an adult. I am autistic. And I am PROUD!

BECCA LORY, CAS was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome as an adult and has since become an active advocate for individuals on the autism spectrum. Along with multiple published articles, Ms. Lory speaks publicly about being on the autism spectrum in order to spread awareness, understanding, and encourage self-advocacy. Ms. Lory is developing and teaching improvisational workshops in order to assist adults with the practice of independent living skills.

Becca’s piece originally appeared on The at,

5 thoughts on “Relief: Receiving an Autism Diagnosis as an Adult, By Becca Lory

  1. Hi Lee Ann! I hope life starts moving forward for you and you find people with whom you can connect. Personally, I’m doing much better. Relationships and connections are, in my opinion now, what it is about. I’m sorry you’ve felt the same way I have because it is not enjoyable. I wish many blessings your way and that your life gets better. Thanks for commenting! ☺ It’s nice to know someone can relate, although under better circumstances would be preferable. Take care, Erin.

  2. Erin, I was diagnosed two months ago at age 44 after 3 decades of diagnosis & medication of the week membership. Your words described my state of existence (alive but not living) & were very affecting. I am one week away from my first support group meeting & am so looking forward to possibly having peers after a lifetime of just “talking a good game ” we’ll see what happens.

  3. I have a nephew with ASD who is struggling. It looks grim. I don’t know how to help him. Even though he was diagnosed as a teen, he doesn’t either believe, or think it affects him. He was not (as far as I know) given any educational support for this. I don’t know of any resources in my community to help him as he is an adult, and most of these resources are for children. Please, can you point me in a direction?

  4. I am also 36. I got a dx in the fall of 2015. I am alive, but I don’t always feel like I survived growing up. My mother never has or will, it seems like, accept me for who I am. She has used abuse in forms of guilt and manipulation/control to try and force me into the daughter she wanted. I’m still angry about that. I have desperately wanted to fit in with other people and devoted my life to the study of them. I can talk a good game, but when it comes to performance, I struggle. I feel like I’ve lost who I am…who I was. My angst and depression are high. I have also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In general, I feel hopeless about the future. I still feel so separated from the world or life. It moves without me. I would like to get engaged, but there are financial issues as well as psychological/emotional problems. Honestly, I’m lonely and feel lost. I hope I’m not sounding overly whiny, I’m just trying to be real. I live in Oklahoma and don’t know of any resources for autism here. Any thoughts? Thank you…

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