By the age of 5, I was already diagnosed with Dyspraxia, a neurological condition which affects coordination and speech. I went through Primary School with relative ease, with the occasional troubles with bullies and my own bad behaviour, but as I became older, I began to feel that there was something more.

I went to Rainhill High School, and then Rainhill Sixth Form, for 7 years. After being in Primary School for what was then the majority of my life, it was a big change for me. That change is something I will probably end up writing about in the near future.I wouldn't say I was isolated in my new environment, but I was more insular for at least the first two years at High School. That's when I began to suspect that there was something more than dyspraxia affecting how I acted. When the teachers at my new school asked if I was autistic, that was the catalyst for me wanting to have more definitive tests, where I was in control.

There were other reasons why I decided to undergo more testing. The fact I moved to a new school in a different borough (for the non-UK readers, a borough is essentially an area governed by a local council. So I essentially moved from a school under control by one borough to a school controlled by another borough) it meant that any records of my previous tests were NOT handed over. This was problematic, which basically meant that those teachers at my new school knew little about my status. I also did a lot more reading up on Autism and Asperger's and I noticed a lot of the traits described, while not all accurate, did describe things I do. 

I underwent a series of more tests in various places across the St. Helens Borough. Unlike my earlier tests, I have a better recollection of events. I remember people coming into school to see me, and taking mornings off for the first two hours of lessons to go to various health centres to meet a multitude of doctors. A lot of these meetings involved filling in questionnaires, talking with doctors, and generally explaining how I perceived the world around me. 

The last meeting I had was at the age of 15. The penultimate one I had was bad. I had to get a tooth removed straight after, and I was in a lot of pain. Thankfully, there was no tooth removal after this particular meeting. It was still a memorable one, as I was officially diagnosed with ASD. I was happy to get that officially diagnosed, but I do not agree with the term. As I have mentioned, Autism is not one condition, it has many levels. While there are similar characteristics, Labelling it all as one condition really is counterproductive, especially when it comes to the mislabelling and stereotypes attached to me because of my condition. 

Despite my objection to the label, it is written down on paper, and is there to use. I now have access to benefits and other things because of my condition to help me function. While I am probably less deserving of it than other people, it must be said that they and myself are under threat of losing it. It will be catastrophic if these lifelines are taken away from  people, no matter the severity of their condition.

All I can say to people reading this is that if you have questions to ask, I would follow them up. I believe it is important for you to know an answer. If finding out about your condition will help you out, then I would strongly suggest you follow it up, as it will shed light on things.

Published by Ben Attwood