Autistic Self-Diagnosis Is Valid

Because the diagnostic process is highly flawed

Jillian Enright
Published in
7 min readDec 27, 2021


Photo by Girl with red hat on Unsplash

Dear fellow self-diagnosed adult autistics who are struggling with imposter syndrome, gate-seeking, and other barriers to formal diagnosis:

You are not alone.

I still struggle with imposter syndrome and self-doubt on a regular basis.

The formal diagnostic process is highly flawed and biased, and access is neither equitable nor equal.

The DSM-V criteria for autism was written with little white boys in mind, and nearly all autism-related research is still being done by neurotypical researchers, and is still focused on little white boys.

Researchers seem to forget that autistic children grow into adults, there are autistic people who happen to not be male, and there exist autistic people who happen to not be white.

There is some fantastic research being done by Actually Autistic researchers, women, non-binary people, trans people, and people of colour, but it’s only a drop in the bucket right now.

Camouflaging and masking

Some clinicians still have an outdated, stereotypical view of what autism really is and how it presents in different people.

Some incorrect statements people hear from clinicians when seeking an assessment:

  • “You can’t be autistic, you make eye contact.”
  • “You can’t be autistic, you have good social and communication skills.”
  • “You can’t be autistic, you are successful/smart.”
  • “You don’t look/act autistic.”

FFS. What does autistic even look like? Are they talking about overt behaviours common in autistic people, like stimming? Guess what? Thanks to social pressures, stigma, and repeated criticisms, many autistics have had to learn how to hide our stims as an act of self-preservation.

If we “pass” for neurotypical really well, that’s not a good thing, it’s the result of years of masking, camouflaging, and suppressing our authentic selves in order to avoid negative repercussions in our lives.



Jillian Enright

She/they. Neurodivergent, 20+ yrs SW & Psych. experience. I write about mental health, neurodiversity, education, and parenting. Founder of Neurodiversity MB.