Categories: Stories


John Nguyen


Categories: Stories


John Nguyen


“John… I don’t know a better way to say this, but I think you have autism.” This sentence was brought forth to me by a friend about a year ago. I found the statement a bit strange. But on the other hand, I felt like that it would explain a large portion of my life. All of a sudden, I may have answers to common questions about myself. Why was I seemingly so introverted? Why do I feel like I have so few friends? Why is talking so difficult for me? I decided to go down a rabbit hole about Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, and to hopefully learn more about myself.

Autism in Hiding

I am sure that most of you all are aware of autism, but why did I label it as ASD? Well, in the previous couple of years, with the release of “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” aka DSM-5, many other learning disorders got grouped together under a new umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder. This includes previously known terms like “Aspergers” or “high-functioning autism”, either of which I may potentially have. For these two items on the spectrum, individuals may have learned to mask their behavior, making symptoms difficult to be seen in adulthood. In other words, it seems that I managed to skip past the initial child screening that we generally associate autism with.

Unfortunately, this lack of diagnosis seems to be an increasingly commonplace occurrence. Especially since, most autism specialists are generally thought to be diagnosing children, not adults. As more and more people learn about this possibility, the possible percentage of adults with autism may seemingly increase. And no, this is not a Tik-Tok fad, but people seeking the support that they need to push through life.

Common Symptoms of Autism

Now let’s think back to what my friend said. What was it that I exhibited that had my friend think that I have autism? Well, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, common symptoms of someone with ASD include the following:

Some Common ASD Symptoms

  • Regularly avoiding eye contact unintentionally
  • Repetitive behaviors and phrases
  • Difficulties with conversation
  • Heavy passion on particular topics
  • Mismatch of facial expressions compared to what is being said
  • Stronger sensitivity to one or more of the five senses

For a more thorough list, please visit NIMH’s website

For me, I check off a large portion of this list, including difficulty interacting with individuals, difficulty making eye contact, outbursts caused by frustration, as well as sensitivity issues with light and sounds. The list of what I have goes on and on. That said, why am I still undiagnosed?

Diagnosis Difficulty

Unfortunately, I suffer from other diagnoses, including ADHD and depression and awkwardly, there is some overlap between Autism Spectrum Disorder and those diagnoses, which might mean a potential misdiagnosis. There is also the possibility that I still have a combination of autism, ADHD, depression, etc. There is a lot to learn about myself, but sometimes I feel like there might be too much I do not know. What if my friend was just overreacting? What do I do about treatments that I am already taking? There is quite a bit to think about, so I decided to start small.

A Strong Indicator

Fortunately, the Internet has quite a few self-assessments. I took a couple, and well, you can see the result of one of them taken at this link:

Score showing 25 out of 30 on autism assessment


All the self-assessments I taken have pointed to this conclusion. That said, do I consider myself diagnosed? No. I do not trust myself to give a self-diagnosis when there’s people much more qualified out there. Besides, a lot of these self-assessments have questions that feel too obvious to answer and manipulate. A proper professional watching and learning how you react to their questions will be able to provide a much more accurate answer. I will say for now, while it is not set in stone, it’s highly likely that I have autism. This is not a diagnosis, but something that I am considering about myself. Until I get a proper diagnosis though, I will just keep wondering if I really do live with autism. Sometimes getting that confirmation can be liberating.

From No Answers to an Answer

A proper diagnosis can be beneficial, even as an adult. I would then have a proper path forward. I would know which types of therapies to seek, or maybe I would find some peer groups to meet new friends that understand my struggles. However, I won’t know until I sign up for an appointment. The New Year has still just started, and my resolution is to understand myself. I am going to sign up for an adult autism diagnosis sometime this year. Let’s see what the future brings.

About the Author: John Nguyen

Support The Whole Person

Your assistance helps The Whole Person continue providing quality support to people with disabilities

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to our free newsletter.