My name is Jennifer Taylor. I live in the suburbs of Chicago where I’m a corporate communications professional. I have two grown daughters and a husband of 28 years, and this past summer, I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
I’ve always felt different and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder in my 30s, but I felt like maybe there was something more going on. Both of my daughters have studied psychology, and the more they talked to me about autism, anxiety and ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), the more I started doing my own research.
I had a conversation with my primary care physician, and she said that a lot of women in our age group were undiagnosed or misdiagnosed or have more than one diagnosis. She said she thought it was a great idea for me to go for a neuropsychological evaluation.
What the testing and diagnosis process was like
My first appointment was with a psychologist. She asked why I wanted to be tested, and I explained to her some of the things I felt throughout my life. She got me in for the testing, which was five two-hour sessions over several weeks.
Not to make a pun of it, but it’s a spectrum of tests. In one test, you’re shown faces, and you’re asked how you would describe this person. Happy, sad, angry? In another test, they’ll show you a picture, and after 60 seconds, they take it away and say, “What do you remember seeing in that picture?” You do simple puzzles and writing tasks. It’s interesting and can also be mentally exhausting. You’re also given a lot of self-evaluations to fill out. My husband also filled out an evaluation of me.
The test results were all reviewed by a psychiatrist, and I was again diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I was also diagnosed with anxiety, mostly social anxiety, as well as attention deficits, plural, but not full-on ADHD.
The new diagnoses of anxiety and attention deficits didn’t surprise me, but when she said I was also on the autism spectrum, well, I didn’t have that on my bingo card. Professionals no longer use the term Asperger syndrome. They don’t categorize autism in different little chunks anymore. It’s all one spectrum. But I would qualify for an Asperger’s diagnosis as it used to be described (autism with average or above average intelligence and no language delays).