Get involved in the autistic community: There are networks of autistic individuals across Canada and online groups around the world that can give you a sense of belonging. You can tell them that you believe you are autistic and are waiting on formal diagnosis. Many will be willing to offer you support and guidance. As you connect with more autistic people, you may see how your experiences overlap and become more confident that autism is the correct diagnosis for you. It can also be comforting to be around people who ‘get it’ and where you don’t feel like you have to try so hard to fit in. No one is going to try and force eye contact with you there!
Read memoirs and blog posts written by other autistics: Just like joining autistic groups, by reading about the experiences of autistic authors you can see what does and does not overlap with your own life experiences. Remember, everyone is different so just because you don’t have the same experiences as one autistic person it doesn’t mean that you aren’t autistic. For free access to books and e-books written by autistic or other neurodivergent authors, see the AIDE Canada Lending Library.
Sensory overload prevention: What are sensory needs that you can take care of right now? For example, could carrying noise-cancelling headphones help when you are in a noisy place? Maybe it would be helpful to start using shades more regularly to protect from the negative impact of bright or flickering fluorescent lights. Or would adapting your clothing to what feels ‘right’ make you feel better? Remember: You deserve to be comfortable! for more tips to try on your own. Making changes that improves your life and sensory experiences is worth it!
Find resources that can help you right now: Some resources are only available to you if you have an official autism diagnosis, but you can choose to start working on some of the other common issues that autistic people struggle with. For example, many autistic people also have anxiety. If you are often anxious, you can seek out resources like books, group workshops, or therapists who can help you to manage your anxiety. While these resources may not be as helpful as ones created specifically for autistic people, they can at least be a step in the right direction as you wait for better resources to open up to you once you are officially diagnosed.
If you would like to learn more about being diagnosed as an adult, please click here to access our toolkit: “Receiving an autism diagnosis later in life: a self-advocate perspective”, you can also click here to access our article “Steps to getting a formal autism diagnosis as an adult in Canada”.