The roundabout #autism diagnosis discussion

Hedge maze with a wooden bridge with two people standing on it, looking around
I am here… somewhere… I think?

An interesting discussion has been developing between myself and a clinician who’s help me with executive functioning issues. This clinician is very smart, she’s very quick, and she’s extremely compassionate. Best of all, she wants to do the right thing, and she bends over backwards to help her clients / patients.

I started working with her after my old executive function coach moved on to another job, and the results have been mixed. I have to say, things are getting better, after a few bumpy initial months, which included meltdowns and shutdowns and some serious reservations on my part. I don’t think I ever seriously considered terminating with her, because I know her heart is good, and while she is somewhat young (she’s been practicing for a number of years, but in some developing nations she’d be young enough to be my daughter), she has a demonstrated interest and ability to learn and adapt, and that is probably the most important trait that I look for in a clinician.

One of the things that I had been hoping for when I started working with her was that her experience in assessing and working with autistic kids would help her to better understand and work with me. I googled her and found “autism” associated with her, and it’s one of the kinds of assessments she does. Interestingly, despite my not masking with her the way I did with the prior clinician, engaging in some pretty obvious tactile stimming, rocking, making minimal eye contact, and some periods of extended mutism, to this day she has never once directly mentioned anything to me about Aspergers or autism.

I have to say, I’m surprised. I regularly run into people who have a working familiarity with autism and Aspergers who start discussing it with me in a way that implies they just assume that I am on the spectrum. Those kinds of interchanges always intrigue me — and admittedly make me a little nervous. I never quite know what to expect when those kinds of conversations start, but without fail till now, every time someone has mentioned autism or Aspergers to me and tried to engage me in a conversation about it, they have been sympathetic, sensitive, and compassionate. It was never used against me in a way that implied that I was “less than” or somehow impaired.

So basically, I have been lowering my shields with this clinician, basically being my Aspie self in her presence. She asked for it, after all. Early on, she asked me how I would want my life to be, if I could get my own way. This was in relation to me telling her about how much I regularly do to help my partner with her health issues and other things she needs to get done in the course of the day. The clinician — like a number of others I’ve worked with — was all keen on me asserting myself more, “practicing self-care” and taking myself into consideration as much as I do my partner.

One of the main things that helps me, is not having to mask and blend and camouflage. I didn’t tell her that, but I decided it was the one thing I could do for myself when I was working with her that would help me. So, I have not been working overtime to manage my issues so they are not obtrusive. I’ve just let it all hang out, so to speak (what an image that conjures!). I’m basically just giving her all of the visual, verbal, and interactive clues that would show her that I’m one of those people on the spectrum who has certain issues that need to be taken into consideration as she interacts with me.

It doesn’t seem to be making an impact, however. She’s still pretty much interacting with me the same way as she was, months back. She still talks fast, she still presses me to verbalize Every . Little . Thing (Aaauugghhh!) And she doesn’t seem to pick up on my references to my sensory issues or factor them in.

But all is not lost. It’s taking a while, but I think we might be getting closer to The Conversation, because she has started to mention the hazards of certain types of diagnosis. She says she doesn’t want me to get locked into a diagnosis that’s going to be driven by a healthcare that doesn’t understand my situation. Could it possibly be a reference to An Autism Diagnosis? The suspense is driving me to distraction. My last clinician said something in passing to me on his last session with me about “getting a different sort of assessment” than the ones he’s done with me. An Autism Assessment, perhaps? I wasn’t quick enough to press him for details – the best I can do now is make stuff up in my mind.

The oblique references are getting irritating, I have to say. I seem to be swimming in a sea of roundabout allusions to my situation, rather than outright, direct references. And that doesn’t make things any easier for me. If anything, it makes me question my judgment. It makes me wonder if I really actually did hear her say that she thought that a more substantial diagnosis of a condition might work against me, and I wonder what exactly that meant.

Problem is, my processing speed is on the sluggish side, so by the time it sinks in, I’m sort of out of luck with asking any clarifying questions.

Anyway, I think I may know what is going on with her, and when I consider that she has been working with kids, or possibly young men, and probably – possibly – more than likely – no women on the autism spectrum him, her perceived hesitation makes sense.

Then again, maybe it’s just me making stuff up… again. Wouldn’t be the first time.

In any case, I don’t see her for another couple of weeks, due to summer vacations and such.  So, I have time to think about this… or something completely different.


4 thoughts on “The roundabout #autism diagnosis discussion

  1. flojoeasydetox

    I find it very difficult when people try to be helpful by standing back in order for you to have your own lightbulb moments. I need someone to come out and say things for me, so I think I get where you’re coming from. It’s a standard process, but one which takes extra effort on your part in order to take responsibility somehow.

    Completely unrelated: the picture you used for this post is of Longleat maze. I played a string quartet gig at Longleat when I was 19 for a charity do. Somehow I got drunk and then lost in the maze. In the dark. Crawling. I was found asleep. I’ve never got drunk since…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VisualVox

      Oh, I’m the same way. A friend of mine is a personal life coach, and her policy is to never provide answers or input to anyone, but let them hash it out themselves. Now, mind you, she’s psychic, so she knows a whole lot that could help, but her professional policy keeps her from speaking up. How frustrating! She offered me complementary coaching, so she could get her hours in, but I found it incredibly confounding.

      Longleat Maze, huh? I’ll bet that was traumatising! Wow… crawling… in the dark… the horror… Glad you made it out in one piece!


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