If you have a late diagnosis of ASD, should you tell your cardiologist, whether you’re being seen for heart symptoms or just for a routine checkup?
A late-in-life diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder could be a real game changer for some people.
There will be those who’ll keep the diagnosis to themselves; they won’t breathe a word about it to a single soul.
At the opposite extreme are those who’ll be very open about it on their social media accounts and will disclose it to many people in their lives.
In between these two extremes are those who are wondering whom to share their new autism diagnosis with – such as their doctors.
This may include their cardiologist.
When I made an appointment with my cardiologist, after not having seen him for several years (routine checkups), I decided I was going to tell him that I had a recent diagnosis of autism.
I didn’t have to do this; there was absolutely no technical reason to.
But I just wanted to share my elation with someone who I had interacted with many times (for my parents’ heart issues; he was their doctor as well).
It was like I had this big secret I wanted to get out.
So at the end of my routine exam (yes, I’m healthy), I disclosed my ASD diagnosis.
Guess what! He said his son is autistic, too!
I Told My OBGYN I’m Autistic
A month later I had my annual exam with my gynecologist. I told her before she began the exam.
I just had to. These two doctors didn’t know me well, and perhaps on some subconscious level, I wanted to see their reaction.
When I disclosed my ASD diagnosis to a brother and sister, neither were the least bit surprised.
However, both the cardiologist and OBGYN didn’t seem surprised, either.
Was that because, as physicians, they’re mindful to maintain a neutral response when patients tell them personal information?
Or was it because they, like my siblings, weren’t surprised?
At any rate, neither suddenly began talking down to me or extra loud – a condescending response that some Autistics report after revealing their diagnosis to a variety of people in their life.
There is no formal research that provides guidelines on whether or not a newly diagnosed Autistic should tell a doctor of their diagnosis.
This is a personal decision where common sense comes into play.
What will influence the decision for some Autistics is if they have struggles with communication in the doctor’s office.
In my case, I don’t, even though my primary care physician (whom I told via email) at least now knows why I ask way more questions than most patients and want all the details.
An autistic individual may want to reveal their diagnosis so that they can then feel they could freely stim while with the doctor.
They may want to disclose the diagnosis so that the doctor knows that’s the reason they’re giving very little eye contact – which may be an issue for some Autists.
Another reason is so that the physician understands why the patient has difficulty tolerating being touched such as with a stethoscope or palpations on their abdomen.
In my case, I just wanted to share the diagnosis!
I was so elated when I received it, and I still want to share it – which is why I have extensively written about my autism.
Why would I be elated upon getting an autism diagnosis?
Because it means that I have perfectly operating software, rather than malfunctioning hardware.
I’m officially a member of a dynamic demographic of people who, over history, have been responsible for many advances in technology and the arts. For instance, it’s believed that the musician Amadeus Mozart, the poet Emily Dickinson, the inventor Nikola Tesla and the physicist Albert Einstein were all on the Autism Spectrum.
If you feel like sharing your ASD diagnosis with your cardiologist or any other medical professional – for no other reason than just for the heck of it – then maybe you should!
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical and fitness topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. In 2022 she received a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder.