Diagnosed with Autism at 21, and Fine With That

adult autism

Many of our blog posts stress the importance of early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder. But what happens if diagnosis doesn’t occur until a much later age?

This is the case for 21 year old Lydia Wayman. All her life she knew she was different. When she was 2 she would talk to her mother about the life cycles of an insect and at 4 she was able to read chapter books. She loved to line up all of her toy dolls rather than play with them. She only ate certain foods and wore only certain socks. At school she would sit with the teachers at recess instead of playing with other kids. 

Although Lydia excelled academically, her parents were still worried about her behaviors. But doctors and psychologists weren’t concerned. They said she suffered from anxiety and would eventually grow out of her unusual quirks.  

It wasn’t until she met Leigh Valencia in college, a fellow teammate on color guard and a psychology major, that the mystery began to surface. Leigh took notice of Lydia’s peculiar behaviors, such as being sensitive to light, having difficulty following instructions, and possessing an inability to process nonverbal communication normally. When they first met, Leigh recalls, Lydia would continuously talk about cats even when the conversation moved onto a different subject. Leigh could see that she wasn’t at the same social level as others so she suggested to Lydia be evaluated for autism.

Autism spectrum disorder has always been difficult to diagnose. There is no laboratory test, like a blood test, for a doctor to conduct. The evaluation and screening process is very extensive with a comprehensive checklist. When Lydia was a child, the definition of autism was much more narrow than it is today.

And what did it feel like after 21 years? Relief. Lydia says, “When I got my I diagnosis, I started to let go of my need to ‘just be NORMAL!” She lives her life with as little stress as possible and no longer hides her unique quirks. Now at 27, she has a Master’s degree in English and nonfiction writing. She is working and living with her cat, and regularly sees a therapist.

This piece was originally sourced from The Wall Street Journal

Written by Raiza Belarmino

This entry was posted in Autism Diagnosis, Autism Education, Autism in the Family, Autism Money, Autism News, Autism Symptoms, Autism Therapy, Autism Treatment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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