Correctly Diagnosing Autism: Susan Boyle’s Story

It’s not surprising that early intervention for children with autism has proven to be effective. Those children diagnosed at an early age have the opportunity to receive intervention from a team of therapists to get the support and strategies they need to succeed.

But what happens to people who are not diagnosed early or who go undiagnosed?

According to The National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland, an “invisible generation” is beginning to emerge. The NAS estimates that one in five people with autism in Scotland are over 60 years-old. Prior to the immense amount of research accumulated in recent years, many adults with autism were given misdiagnoses or no diagnosis at all.

Susan Boyle, the famous 52 year-old singer from Scotland, was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. However, prior to this recent diagnosis, Boyle was told she suffered brain damage during birth. Other adults have also been misdiagnosed with other conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

BBC UK spoke with Robert MacBean from the NAS Scotland about the importance of a proper diagnosis for all ages.

“A good experience leaves you understanding yourself, understanding what has been happening to you and also allows you to develop your own coping strategies,” said MacBean. “Unfortunately, not everyone gets that experience. Some people, if they manage to get a diagnosis, it is after years of waiting and quite often they are left at the end with a leaflet and as they leave they are told ‘don’t worry about having a label’. That’s all the support they get.”

Children today have the advantage of better technology and a multitude of research about autism that older generations did not have. Because of this, the ability to identify and diagnose autism at an early age will help eliminate the probability of misdiagnosis and becoming part of the invisible generation.

To read more about the invisible generation and the importance of a correct diagnosis, read BBC UK’s full story here.