Because I’d Had a Stroke…

I couldn’t possibly be autistic, my psychologist said, because I’d had a stroke as an infant and that somehow precluded a diagnosis of autism. Never mind that autism is genetic and said stroke supposedly didn’t change my genetic makeup to make me neurotypical. I, however, had to be diagnosed with acquired brain injury-related behavior change instead, but then again I couldn’t either, because I was too young when I sustained the stroke for my behavior to be considered as having changed either; after all, a six-week-old infant hardly shows any behaviors that would be considered significant in an adult. For this reason, I ended up with just some regular personality disorders, specifically dependent and borderline PD. Never mind that these have their onset in early adulthood and I’d shown symptoms since childhood. As it later turned out, my psychologist’s reason for changing my diagnosis had nothing to do with logic and everything with her wish to kick me out of care.


This post was written for the Six Sentence Story link-up, for which the prompt word is “stroke”. It isn’t completely factual, in the sense that, though my psychologist kept referring to what happened to me at six weeks of age as a stroke, it was actually a brain bleed. That doesn’t change the rest of the story though.

33 thoughts on “Because I’d Had a Stroke…

    1. I have, thankfully. In fact, I did request an independent second opinion on said psychologist’s diagnosis because otherwise her diagnosis might follow me to other doctors, which led to me getting my autism diagnosis back.

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  1. This is very illogical indeed. I’ve never heard that someone who’d had a stroke can’t be diagnosed as autistic at the same time. I’m sure these two things could potentially complicate and exacerbate the symptoms of each other and make it difficult to draw the line between what’s an autism thing and what’s a stroke thing, but I can’t quite understand why a person couldn’t have both these things, it’s not like they’re contradictory or anything I guess even if they’re both in the brain.
    And if it is really the case that you can’t diagnose a stroke survivor with autism, then a personality disorder diagnosis makes even less sense to me, because apparently it’s one of the general diagnostic criteria for any personality disorder that it has to be psychological in nature and not the result of a brain injury or other physical condition that affects personality and behaviour.
    From what I’ve heard about other people and know from my own experience, I think that actually, if you had a real personality disorder, you sure could still exhibit quite a lot of signs of it early on in childhood, I myself have avoidant PD and can say in hindsight I had a lot of AVPD behaviours as a child already so I guess the point of not diagnosing children with personality disorders is more that their personalities aren’t fully formed yet so it’s kind of like let’s just wait and hopefully these traits/behaviours will go away or lessen to an acceptable degree by the time the kid reaches adulthood. Anyway, yeah, your psychologist’s reasoning seems odd and I’m glad you no longer have to deal with her.

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting. My point wasn’t exactly that I didn’t have a personality disorder, but that I should in my opinion also be diagnosed as autistic. Thankfully, the psychologist I got the second opinion from agreed.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I wasn’t all that able to advocate for my rights during my years in the psych hospital, but this psychologist definitely crossed a line.

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    1. Oh wow, that’s tragic! The problem with this psychologist’s misdiagnosis of me wasn’t the fact that she misdiagnosed me though, but the fact that she had such a self-righteous attitude about her, thinking there was absolutely no way she could possibly be wrong.

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          1. It took me 13 years and extensive treatments to get rid of it, but it’s gone now and so far hasn’t come back. If I’d listened to the doctor and left the lump in my neck alone, I’d be dead by now.

            Liked by 1 person

                1. Oh okay, I get it. I was only able to stand up to thispsychologist because she was a mental health professional and I have quite a bit of knowledge of mental health myself. Had this been general medicine, I’d not have felt capable of asserting myself.

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  2. One diagnosis should never preclude another in most cases. Almost all of these diagnoses are based on symptoms and symptoms overlap. If a diagnosis fits it fits. It is vital that everyone remembers these are just human constructs and what always matters is the collection of symptoms and history that an individual person has. Labels are approximations and tools, not definitive and not exclusive.

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    1. Thank you for saying that. I agree completely, especially with respect to mental health diagnoses. Actually, after this psychologist tried to take my autism diagnosis away and I first tried to seek an independent second opinion, she wanted to confer with a brain injury specialized psychiatrist, who said that, while autism shouldn’t be diagnosed in brain injury survivors, neither should personality disorders. In the end, she did diagnose me with two personality disorders, so she wasn’t following the so-called specialist’s opinion either. That’s when I had definitely had it and sought an independent second opinion after all.

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    1. Well, obviously I got someone else, as I was kicked out of that place, but I am so happy my new mental health team didn’t go along with this psychologist’s diagnosis. Thanks for your supportive comment.

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  3. And, while there is a consensus (among Commenters), of the value and benefit of seeking second opinions, I applaud those who persevere in their efforts. There can be so much pressure on the individual, the patient, if you will.
    Thought-provoking post, Astrid

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for pointing that out. Yes, there’s a lot of pressure on the patient and doctors and other health professionals still hold or at least appear to hold some position of power.

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