My Autism Assessment Journey


Guest Blog


The following guest blog was written by Jan Hanson, ADSHE Quality Assured SpLD Study Skills Tutor, Associate Tutor for Diversity and ABility and Associate Trainer and Coach for Dyslexia Box.

Jan carries out workplace coaching and assistive technology training to help individuals with neurodiversities in the education sector and the workplace.

'My Autism Assessment Journey'

- By Jan Hanson

Hello, my name is Jan Hanson and I’m Autistic, heck that’s actually the first time I’ve written it.

Yes, I’ve written I have ASC/ASD but those are just letters. To actually write out ‘Autistic’, now that’s different. I suppose it’s me finally acknowledging who I am and being comfortable with that.

Finding out and receiving my diagnosis last November at the age of 56 means much of this is still new to me and I’m still learning a lot along the way.

By this I mean I have had habits pointed out to me that I thought everyone did - for example, talking to themselves, twiddling rings, or hair. However, this is all part of my Autism! My hyperfocus (or obsession, as my family would call it) to prove people wrong and achieve academically has seen me study continually for the last thirty years! To me, that’s completely normal.


Now, all this has a name.

I was lucky that within my studies I had to complete a general screening so already had a diagnosis of Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, so I expected my profile to be spikey regarding my working memory and processing of information. However, when I read the answers and recommendations it said “Autism Spectrum Disorder significant difficulties” whereas Dyslexia and Dyspraxia were both coming out as having moderate difficulties.

It did take me by surprise, so I decided to take control and see if the screener was correct.

Even by paying privately and contacting the National Autistic Society, any assessment centre in or around London had a 5-to-12-month waitlist to be seen. If I had waited to be referred by my GP, I would have had to wait two years (no matter which part of the country I lived in). However, I contacted an Autism Psychology Practice in Middlesbrough and started the assessment five days after I had completed the screener.


I found some of the rigorous tests frustrating and extremely tiring, which really surprised me, I suppose it shouldn’t have because I was having to concentrate so much. There were questionnaires to complete, with questions and interviews for both my mum and husband.

Questions like: What was I like as a child? Did I have friends? Things I had never thought about.

I think the most difficult test was my Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2), where I had to travel to Middlesbrough. Seeing as I work completely from home, going somewhere this far is quite a challenge.


The journey 


Getting there

Is a satnav, right?

Do I have enough fuel?

Do I have enough time?

When do I need to leave home?

Which way should I go the way I am familiar with or follow Google?

Can I park?

What if I get stuck?

Who do I call if I’m going to be late or have got stuck?


This all usually happens before I even leave the house - often the night before, and then I don’t sleep just in case my alarm doesn’t go off in the morning. This means I am already stressed when I arrive at my destination.

In this instance, when I arrived and entered the room, I kicked the table and knocked my coffee everywhere!


As you can see, this is a regular thing that I do for every situation but now I know that it’s a part of who I am. It has answered a lot of questions from when I was younger about what I did and why.

The most important thing for me is that from writing that I’m Autistic at the beginning of this blog, to writing it now, there have been several weeks - but it has allowed me to accept myself for who I am, and I like who I am. I am also happy to say to people that I’m Autistic. Some people’s reactions have been enlightening, but that’s their issue and not mine.


Since my diagnosis (horrible word, I’m not sick), I’ve begun to notice that I’m masking much less than I was before.

Things are now black or white rather than grey - but then I wonder if they ever were grey, and my desire to fit in meant I never really admitted it.

Not anymore.

People must like me for who I am, not who I was trying to be.



"In three years, I’ll know that it’s the real me who will don the doctoral gown and be proudly walking into York Minster with her autism assistance dog - not just an impostor looking like me."


Blog written by Jan Hanson, ADSHE Quality Assured SpLD Study Skills Tutor, Associate Tutor for Diversity and ABility and Associate Trainer and Coach for Dyslexia Box.

If you would like to find out more about our Coaching and Training services then contact our team today.

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