A local man who has autism has spoken out on how ‘vital’ it is for autistic adults to be ‘diagnosed correctly and promptly’.
Nik White feels there should be a framework built specifically for them to ‘function in society’.
He currently works for Autism Initiatives, a UK-wide service that offers support to autistic people in the form of clubs and activities, work placements, supported living, one-stop shops and more.
Nik joined Autism Initiatives in July on a government back to work training scheme for six months as an admin assistant.
He explained that to have a framework built for autistic adults would mean sustaining employment, coping with day to day problems and having access to proper support.
The 58-year-old said: ‘Following the recent autism consultation by the DHSC, I am looking forward to seeing a proper comprehensive island-wide strategy to provide whole life support for autistic adults and children.
‘This needs to happen as soon as possible, to help prevent others suffering the way I have done throughout my whole life. The strategy needs to be backed up by legislation in order to prevent it sitting on a shelf and gathering dust.
‘I feel the strategy should cover employment, financial advice, public and professional awareness, access to support and the requirement to tailor the framework to the individual and not vice versa.
‘The three months I have spent working with Autism Initiatives have been a revelation. I’m now working in an autism-friendly environment with people who understand the condition and the effects that it can have on me.’
Nik said: ‘I have been in the mental health system since about 1995.
‘During this time I received a series of diagnoses, most of which were wrong. The interventions provided included two spells in the psychiatric ward.
‘In general these interventions did more harm than good.
‘I do not believe I would have been diagnosed as autistic if it had not been for a locum doctor in 2015.
‘Following diagnosis, my full-time psychiatrist categorically refused to accept the diagnosis. It took four more years and a change of psychiatrist to have my diagnosis confirmed. It then took a further 15 months for me to start receiving support.
‘With the support I am now able to live a more “normal” life, as I am learning to understand the impact of my autism on all parts of my life, including my mental health.’