So you have a Neurodiversity diagnosis, now what?

By: Sarah Bridgeman, Senior Neurodiversity Coach, 3SC

6th June 2024

I have worked for 3SC as a neurodiversity coach for over 4 years. Many of my clients want to start a journey towards diagnosis. I commend them, then I ask them to pack their metaphorical backpack because, it is going to be a long and arduous journey, more so if you are getting one through the NHS. It is hard to pin down exactly how long the waiting lists are, but you could be waiting months, often years in many cases. That’s a long time just for someone to say yep you’ve got a condition you pretty much knew you had.


I then ask, what are you hoping to gain from a diagnosis and often clients will say they want proof that they have something. Other than this validation, they don’t really know what they want from it, they just know they want one.


A good question to ask yourself if you are thinking of getting one is, what are you hoping to gain from it? Is it validation that you are not a terrible human, that you are struggling and from no fault of your own? Is it so you can get support from your employer, who wants some sort of proof that you’re not ‘putting it on’? Is it to get answers about yourself and why you seem to think differently from those around you? These are all great reasons to go through the stress of the waiting lists and evaluation for a diagnosis and answers.


However, if you think a diagnosis will be the start of curing your condition or even improving it, then I’m sorry a diagnosis won’t bring you that. We live in a medicalised world and it is easy to think, I’ve got the flu I’ll go to the doctor for some antibiotics or I‘ve broken my arm, I’ll get that fixed at the hospital. Or I can’t see very well, the optician will make it better by giving me glasses. With neurodiversity, there is no fix as such. It is an umbrella term meaning brain difference. The way you are, the behaviours, are because it is the way the brain was grown, so the traits aren’t something that can be cured as such. I wouldn’t want to ‘cure’ some of my ADHD symptoms, like how creative I am or that I can hyperfocus on a subject my brain loves. However, there are challenges I could really do without, like my poor emotional regulation and my time management challenges. Try as I might, they can improve a little with some medication and a lot of hard work, but they won’t ever go away.


It can be hard to see what areas are tricky for you as you are the one living with the condition. You have always had your brain, so the way you do things make sense to you, and often neurodivergent people don’t get why everyone else isn’t doing it their way!


Being neurodivergent in a world that often doesn’t make allowances for it, is at best frustrating and at worst, anxiety and depression inducing.


You don’t have to go it alone. Coaching really helps. If you have ADHD, you process through talking, if you have Autism, my clients have reported that they feel less alone and better understood by talking to a coach. A coach can help you to untangle the best bits and the more challenging areas. We can celebrate you and also help you to find ways to manage the challenges.


There is so much help out there, many books and great websites with lots of information, but nothing beats the feedback someone who really understands what you go through and how you think, can give.


Should you get a diagnosis? Yes, if it is right for you, but don’t wait before getting help and support. You don’t have to have a diagnosis to get help through Access to work and if you think you may be neurodivergent, then start looking for strategies and support from the community, while you wait. Who knows it may even make the time go by a bit quicker.


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