Managing co-occurring conditions: self-realisation and advocacy are key

I had the pleasure of moderating a busy, engaging and particularly well attended event covering autism and comorbidities. The event was in two parts with lived experience accounts from two autistic women and a presentation on the autism and Older People Work stream from two psychologists. Despite the seemingly unconnected topics – there was a common theme: the wish to have been diagnosed earlier and self-realisation.

The two lived experiences promoted a response about gender bias within medical professionals. During this part of the event, the breadth of detailed chat revealed the complexities of comorbidities, trends in the sequence of diagnosis and the large range of comorbid conditions. This included the common occurrence of ADHD as well as other conditions impacting digestion, physical mobility and other developmental conditions.

Group discussion after the lived experience accounts allowed a chance to explore self-management, therapies and approaches to seeking professional help. A repeated action point was advocacy – particularly arranging for a partner, close friend or relative to attend appointments or self-advocating.

After the lived experience accounts, questions and answers, the evening event then moved to a presentation from two clinical psychologists, describing their work at the Faculty of Psychology of Older People. They highlighted the incomplete understanding of autism in older age. Themes highlighted during the lived experience discussion re-occurred here. This included diagnosis being a route to self-discovery, the impact of ingrained existing coping mechanisms and the challenges to accessing help.

This was a lively, informative and well attended event – themes likely to be revisited in the future. For me, advocacy and quality of professional help is key.

Nick Stone, Autism Hub peer support facilitator & ALAG member, 8 May 2024

We are delighted to be funded by Camden Council & Islington Council.

Camden Council Islington Council London Community Response Fund
Camden Giving Cloudesley Asperger London Area Group

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