Aly Gynn was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a disorder on the autism spectrum, at the age of 45, even though he suspected he had the condition for some time.
“I actually ‘self-diagnosed’ three years before my formal diagnosis. I was teaching adults with autism and suddenly realised that I had a problem.
“Throughout my teaching career I had periods of depression. I pushed myself too hard and worried intensely about my pupils. Sometimes, I came close to having a breakdown. Now I know that this was due to my Asperger syndrome.
“Despite having support from my homeopath, friends, family and GP, getting a diagnosis was very difficult. I struggled to convince doctors that I had autism because I didn’t match their preconceived ideas about the disability. I think they felt that I had managed in life so far, but I just needed to know how to cope.
“Receiving the diagnosis felt like a mystery had been explained. But I was frightened of discovering how I differed from other people, and frightened of realising my areas of difficulty. I was genuinely shocked to discover that people didn’t think like me, and weren’t preoccupied by the same things. My sensory reactions are different. For example, I find the sound of pans banging together painful.
“I have now learnt what is good for my health, and I concentrate on my creative work. Sometimes, words come too quickly, so I have to write things down on a piece of paper.
“I’m keen to contribute and participate in future discussions about the complexity of autism and our increasing understanding of this condition.”