It has been a while between posts (a few months in fact), and many events and achievements have happened in the meantime. For starters:
- I was let go from my old job just before Easter (a shock at the time, but one I came to terms with pretty quickly),
- I subsequently moved into teaching group fitness as my main profession (something that I’ve aspired to do for a number of years now, so this puts me in a happier place physically, mentally, and most of all emotionally),
- I have now also commenced study for my Certificate 3 in Fitness, moving on to Certificate 4 in Personal Training once that is completed, and
- I got certified in BODYBALANCE (my 8th Les MIlls program). I also did my AIM1 for BODYBALANCE as well as my AIM2s for BODYSTEP and BODYPUMP (I’ll actually be writing about these in more detail in a separate post).
Probably the biggest one (and the most life-changing one) is that I have now been officially diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. Obviously from my previous post, this is something that I have been aware of in myself for the past year or so, but had been meaning to do something about it.
Well, I did. After I was let go from my job in April, I immediately went to my GP and told him about my Aspergers concerns. He then put me on what is called a Mental Health Care plan, which allows patients a number of sessions with a psychologist that can then be partially claimed back via Medicare. As an aside, I strongly recommend that if you suspect yourself of having any kind of mental health concerns, speak to your GP first as this might be a cost-effective option for you if you wish to have it investigated further (as psychologists can be rather expensive).
My first phone conversation with the referred psychologist was rather pleasant and she certainly seemed like someone who knew what she was talking about (always a good sign). In one of our later face-face consultations, she remarked that in that first conversation, it didn’t sound like I would be on the spectrum (probably attributed to the years and years of self-learned behaviour). However, once the consultations started, she could see signs right away…
The very first step in the diagnosis process of Aspergers is to do an official IQ test with the psychologist. This takes two hours and involves a number of cognitive and memory tests, as well as processing tests. There are a variety of IQ tests and scales that psychologists use, and in case you wish to read a little further on this, the one that was used for my test is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, the current version being WAIS-IV. I had always known that I was smart throughout my life, but had never been tested previously. Which is why I was still surprised when I received an IQ score of… 132.
In case you are unsure of what this number represents, there are several IQ classification groupings. To cut a long story short though, any score of 130+ represents Very Superior intelligence. So yes, it confirmed what my family had always known as I was growing up.
One intriguing thing that came out of the IQ test was my Processing Speed Index (PSI). In all other indices, I had scored extremely high (at least high 120s), but my PSI was around 99, which is considered average. PSI essentially measures how fast your brain processes information compared to other similar people, and I know from growing up, it would take me forever to copy notes in primary school and high school. There were times where I didn’t complete exams as it would take me longer than usual to write out answers. Even taking notes at university lectures would be a struggle.
However, my psychologist did make the observation that a really high full-scale IQ with a low PSI is actually rather common in people who have Aspergers, so that helped to reassure me somewhat that this isn’t a major thing. It just means that I am a lot better typing something out on a computer than I am writing something out manually with a pen and paper.
The second part of the diagnosis process consists of two very lengthy (and sometimes laborious) questionnaires around behaviour and perceptions thereof, both as an adult and as a child. These can take up to 3-4 hours to complete, but at the same time I found that they helped me to understand facets of my behaviour that I hadn’t given much thought to previously. It was also rather therapeutic.
My psychologist had said on a number of occasions as each session went by that it would become clearer to her that I was definitely on the spectrum. And at the most recent one this week, she confirmed it for – for all intents and purposes, I am on the Autism Spectrum with the condition formerly known as Aspergers Syndrome.
So where to from here? Well, I will receive an official report from my psychologist outlining the diagnosis and the subsequent implications for my life moving forward, including any learning difficulties that would need to be addressed and advised to any facilitators of courses that I attend. Other than that, it is life as usual for me.
If you have any questions about any of the above or would like more information on Aspergers or the Autism Spectrum, please do not hesitate to ask me. The Internet also has a wealth of information that I can certainly point you to if you wish. My aim by writing this is to help educate other people on what life is like for Aspies such as myself (as there are a number of us out there), so I hope this serves to shine a light on some things that you may not have known or understood previously.
More than ever, the truth has set me free, and may it do the same for you in some way.