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Guest Essays

On Autistic Self-Diagnosis

This is a guest essay by Courtney A. Munnings, Esq., Neurodiversity Enthusiast, Certified Life Coach, and Speaker Certified in Disability Inclusion and Advocacy.
Can I diagnose* myself with autism? Well. Let’s break that down.

Can I diagnose myself with difficulty interpreting what people are saying or feeling?
Can I diagnose myself with not intuiting unspoken neurotypical social rules? Or avoiding superficial conversations?
Can I diagnose myself as being “in my own world”?
Can I diagnose myself as engaging in repetitive behaviors or routines?
Can I diagnose myself with only eating a limited group of foods?
Can I diagnose myself with a meltdown?
Can I diagnose myself with a strong or unusual special interest?
Can I diagnose myself with headaches or migraines?
Can I diagnose my sensitivity to rejection?
Can I diagnose myself as not preferring to make eye contact when I speak?
Can I diagnose myself with bumping into my walls or tripping over my feet?
Can I diagnose myself with handwriting that hurts?
Can I diagnose myself with not understanding a figure of speech?
Can I diagnose myself with making up special words or phrases or signs?
Can I diagnose myself with rocking back and forth or pacing to soothe myself?
Can I diagnose myself with being mistaken for an answering machine when someone calls me?

Can I diagnose myself with being expected to overreact? Can I diagnose myself with being called robotic, neurotic, or obsessed?

Can I diagnose myself with compulsive shopping or collecting? Can I diagnose myself as buying the same garment in as many colors as I can find?

Can I diagnose myself with needing my items arranged in a specific or symmetrical fashion? Can I diagnose myself with making involuntary noises?
Can I diagnose myself with rage or disgust when my food order is wrong?
Can I diagnose my difficulty regulating certain emotions?
Can I diagnose myself with unintentionally changing my demeanor or personality to fit in?
Can I diagnose myself with trouble keeping up in a conversation? Or speaking for longer than I meant to?
Can I diagnose myself with picking at my skin until it hurts or I bleed?
Can I diagnose myself with miscommunications or misunderstandings with others?
Can I diagnose myself as hating bright lights or certain noises or strong smells?
Can I diagnose myself with preferring others to speak on my behalf when I’m uncomfortable?
Can I diagnose my forgetting to eat or not noticing when I’m tired or when I have to pee?
Can I diagnose myself with compulsive shopping or collecting things?
Can I diagnose myself as a deep or “over” thinker?
Can I diagnose myself with seeing both sides of a thing?
Can I diagnose myself with taking things literally?
What about my honesty or “oversharing”?
Can I know that I’m always very different from my peers?
Can I diagnose myself with gullibility?
Can I diagnose myself with putting my needs last or not thinking about them at all?
Can I diagnose my anxiety?
Can I diagnose myself as noticing patterns others do not?
Can I diagnose that I did not get a joke?
Can I diagnose myself with devastation when people doubt me?
Can I diagnose myself with fascination or overwhelm at my own thoughts?
Can I diagnose myself with being called “rigid” or “controlling''?
Can I diagnose my exhaustion?
Can I diagnose myself with frequent stomach problems?
Can I diagnose my social anxiety?
Can I diagnose my self doubt?
Can I diagnose myself with only talking to dogs or babies at social gatherings?
Can I diagnose myself with accidentally interrupting people in conversations?
Can I diagnose my confusion or overwhelm or angst?
Can I diagnose myself as feeling like an alien?
Can I diagnose that I’m often taken advantage of?
Can I diagnose myself with sweating or shutting down or being afraid?
Can I diagnose my moments of inexplicable gratitude and joy?
Can I diagnose my story telling and “wild imagination”?
Can I diagnose my obsessions or compulsions around a thing?
Can I diagnose falling in love with new friends right away?
Can I diagnose my love of words and alliteration and rhymes?
Can I diagnose my love for numbers and signs?
Can I diagnose counting all the time?
Or seeing smells and hearing colors and tasting sounds?
Can I diagnose remembering every embarrassing thing in a way that still makes me sick?
Can I diagnose not remembering anything at all?
Can I diagnose myself with losing the same things every single day?
Can I diagnose myself with feeling lazy because I can't even work on the most important things to me?
Can I diagnose myself with constantly feeling misjudged?
Can I diagnose myself as rubbing my feet together when I sit or lie down, even when I want it to stop?
Can I diagnose myself with scripting a “simple” conversation or phone call?
Can I diagnose myself with thinking a loved one hates me for no reason?
Can I diagnose myself as reclusive?
Can I diagnose myself as nonspeaking?
Can I diagnose myself as burnt out and in need of a break?
Can I diagnose myself as trying to help people who didn't even ask?
Can I diagnose my codependency?
Can I diagnose myself with feeling younger than I am?
Can I diagnose myself with feeling like I'm bursting with thoughts?
Can I diagnose myself with dread or paranoia or feeling the whole world's sadness at once? Can I self diagnose my powerful nervousness, insecurity, excitement, wonder, intrigue, disgust, enthusiasm, pride, joy, rage, amusement, delight, attention, or guilt?

If not, then who can? Which specialist can tell me all these things about myself? Which specialist knows how long it takes me to speak up when I’m hurt? Who knows how badly I want to open my mail and handle things, but I do not? Who knows that I have the money but will end up in collections anyway? Who could know I panicked when my phone rang because I was not sure if someone died or I was late for an appointment? Who knows that visions of catastrophe flash before my eyes when I’m trying to rest?

Which specialist knows that I secretly hate hugs? But that I don’t reject them because I am desperate to be loved and accepted? What is their title? Who knows that I did all the reading and still prayed my professor would not ask me to speak? Where do they work? The person who can tell me that I think I’m being watched. The person who can say my eyes won’t cooperate when I read so I read ahead so I don’t mess up when I am reading aloud? Who are they? If they’re not me?


*Autism is not a disease.


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