Below is an anonymised story from a young person about their experience of growing up and receiving an ADHD and ASD diagnosis. All names have been changed.
From my early years in primary school, I always felt different from my peers. I could do some things my peers could not do, for example I was gifted at maths and sciences. However, I would always get nervous as a child trying to speak to people. I had a few friends but to most people in primary school I just was quite antisocial. I do like talking to people, but I just did not really know how to with people I do not know well. My friends always described me growing up as a ‘bubbly’ person who was a bit ‘quirky’ in my teenage years. However, in my later primary school years I had to leave my school due to being bullied. I did not really know how to stick up for myself, so I moved to a new school.
At this new school I quickly became friends with a group of girls, some of who I still keep in contact with years later. In my last years of primary school I started to get better at talking to people. I was also bullied there but I could stick up for myself and it was only very minor, I had become a much stronger person. My grades also drastically improved and so did my happiness, I was very happy here and had positive mental health.
When I moved to secondary school, I brought in all of my confidence I had gotten from primary school but it did not seem to show at all and I was very anxious. I did not know how to speak to people, I could not get enough courage to start conversations and I felt alone. Eventually I did make some friends, not many but enough for me. I was then picked on by one girl in my languages class, Gemma. Gemma was your stereotypical popular girl. Recently she was telling everyone in class about her recent ADHD diagnosis, I did not believe this girl for a second; I thought that everyone had these symptoms as I have the exact same symptoms (I was wrong!). I then had a strong dislike for Gemma until I left that school because I was thinking she just made-up ADHD.
Later on, at the same school, I had a group of girls that disliked me for no apparent reason – I have never spoken to them, these girls then created a rumour that I was autistic. I had grown up with not really knowing what autism was, I then asked a friend about it and they had rather negative views on it. Almost everyone I spoke to had negative views on it and I was bullied because these girls thought that I had it. My school life slowly became increasingly more difficult and reached to a stage where I spent every lunchtime and breaktime in the toilets watching Netflix Awhile later, school became very bad with bulling and stress from school I saw a psychiatrist, she was lovely and told me that I might be on the autism spectrum, she gave me a much more in depth description on what it is and advised me to get tested. After being in therapy for a few months the 2020 lockdown hit. I was relived when this came about as I did not have to go to school. In this lockdown, I took bike riding and as a result my mental health improved and I was very happy. In lockdown my mental health and personal state was pretty good and I managed to balance seeing my friends.
After lockdown ended I had transferred schools to a smaller school where I thought the bulling would stop. It did have its ups and downs during the first two terms but after going there for three years (especially the last year) I have been happiest I have ever been at school. Shortly after I got my ADHD and ASD diagnosis.
Now in 2023, I am now a happy person and I have a good life with many friends, I have learnt how to be confident and am stronger. I now do lots of physical activity (Martial Arts and Gym) to ensure that my mental health stays stable and ensure I eat a healthy diet.
What Helped Me:
- Healthy diet
- Getting enough vegetables
- Clubs and Groups
- Way to socialise and build social relationships without having to completely focus on it.
- Meeting up with friends regularly
- Gaming (in moderation)
My advice to people going through an ADHD/ ASD diagnosis:
Diagnosis are long and tedious processes. It took me 2 years to get diagnosed with ADHD and ASD.
No matter what happens after that diagnosis you are still you and you as a person hasn’t changed at all. It helps you find who you are as a person. I struggled to accept it and I still now sometimes feel like I was mis-diagnosed, which is quite common apparently. But I just try to think after getting diagnosed, you know yourself so much better and it does really help you as a person.