Just re-sharing an experience from a few years ago when I was first diagnosed. I’ve updated some of the wording in keeping with my preferred terminology. I found the experience slightly amusing and a tad annoying. Looking back I think I handled it quite well for a newbie. Enjoy.
I met a lady I vaguely knew via a writing class I used to attend. She asked why I’d stopped going to the class. I felt I could trust her because she’s disabled, so shared my recent diagnosis. This is a rough version of the conversation. You’ll know who’s who.
“I was diagnosed as Autistic.”
“You don’t look Autistic.”
(What does Autistic look like!?)
“I am 100% Autistic. Had seven hours of assessments and have a long report to prove it.”
“I work with Autistic children and you’re nothing like them.”
“I guess they may have learning difficulties which I do not.
I am an adult who has masked my Autism throughout life.”
“How does it affect you then?”
(I go on to explain some of my traits, hypersensitivities and how trying to hide these has resulted in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.)
“But everyone has those problems, don’t you think?”
“Yes, of course, but mine are specific to Autism and struggling in a world that does not cater for us nor understand our ways. That’s what I’m dealing with and telling you about.”
“But how could you be in a writing class then?”
“That’s why I don’t go anymore because I found it very tiring and difficult to be in a brightly lit room full of people, cleaning smells and lots of talking at times. Plus, I don’t deal well with groups socially.”
(Then… although no longer used, I mentioned Asperger’s.)
“You’re definitely not one of those!”
(Implying that I’m not ‘gifted’ enough.)
“Actually that would have been my diagnosis in the past, a specialist from The Maudsley in London stated High Functioning Autism which would once have been called Asperger’s.”
“No, you’re not, I know all about this!”
I carried on regardless.
“In fact Asperger’s is Autism, just different communication skills.”
(Hoping I’m describing it correctly.)
(I try to explain a bit more, getting into the realms of justifying myself!)
“Everyone’s a bit Autistic… We all have those traits.”
“Then I wouldn’t need a diagnosis, would I?”
At this point I felt like quoting a recent article I read where an Autie thanks the other person for their expertise saying how they will tell the highly trained professional who diagnosed them… that they know nothing!
What is really funny was that she suddenly scuttled away, leaving me standing there gobsmacked, because she couldn’t beat my Autistic persistence – we’re famous for that you know! You couldn’t script it, if you tried.
I’d only just been diagnosed a few weeks and faced every cliche in the book. It would be tragic if it wasn’t so funny.
Until next time,