But there will also be people who suspect (or know) that they're on the spectrum, but through choice or circumstance don't have an official diagnosis. They might be parents of diagnosed children, who recognise their own behaviour and challenges in their child. They might have had a doctor or specialist suggest the diagnosis, but not gone through the official diagnosis process. They might have pored carefully over the diagnostic criteria by themselves or with their family.
|Phaidaux suspected he wasn't like the other cubs|
Another deciding factor for some deciding whether to pursue diagnosis is what use it'll be. Will it provide access to services? (Are there even any services to access?) Entitlements to benefits or support? Help at work? If you don't have a practical need for a diagnosis, is it really worth going through the palaver of getting it? For some people it will be. For some it won't.
So, is a person with a self-diagnosis "really" autistic?
If someone's gone through a reasonable process of self diagnosis, and has legitimate, evidence-based reasons for their conclusion, I think it's unhelpful to argue that their suspicion is invalid until a specialist agrees. Some things should require an official diagnosis - taking part in medical studies relating to autism, for instance, unless they're specifically investigating self-diagnosed people - but just getting through life is an entirely different proposition.
The really helpful thing about my own diagnosis was the insight and self-awareness it brought, and that it led me down a rabbit hole of learning about sensory issues and social gubbins and learning from other autistic people. If you can do that without having to go through the rigmarole of getting officially diagnosed, good for you.
Some useful links of a self-diagnosis nature:
The Aspie Quiz
Polite Yeti's by-autistics-for-autistics autism criteria
Autism Spectrum Quotient test
How ASD is diagnosed (utterly child-centric, but might be useful)