Thursday, 5 January 2012

Just Diagnosed: a post-assessment rant

This follows on from Autism: The Extreme Male Chauvinism Theory, and this post will make more sense if you've read that one. For the record, not once in my assessment was my genderqueerness mentioned, not until the very end when I brought it up after the assessor talked about some of my traits being characteristic of "females with Asperger's", and even then she had little to say about it - in fact, wasn't even aware of the FTM/autism research I quoted in the other post.

(What she did have to say was that, although The Research points to autistic spectrum conditions being more common among "males", she's seeing more and more "females" coming to be diagnosed, and had been chatting about this with Baron-Cohen. "Do more research then, I guess," I said. "Yeah, Simon, there's your answer," she laughed.)

Again, this is not a sympathy-post, this is a "this is what it's like, guys" post. If your immediate reaction is to post a comment saying "But that's really sad, cos I think you're awesome!", then a) I love you dearly, b) don't feel you have to bother, and c) I'd just like you to stop and think about why that's your reaction, and what the implications are for all this...

:) xx


I'm proud of who I am and I wouldn't want to be any other way - if this is what mild Asperger's Syndrome looks like, well then, sucks to be neurotypical, I reckon. A long time ago I decided that "being me" wasn't easy in some ways, but in other ways it made things so much more awesome that it more than made up for it. I wouldn't like to be like the people I don't understand, the people who don't get me, the neurotypicals, I suppose.

But what upsets me is the idea that all the great stuff I have in my head just comes from being on the autistic spectrum... because it implies that all this great stuff will only make sense to 'other neuroatypicals'.

I love looking at the world at a slant, I love taking my big hammer of overanalysis and smashing apart received opinions, I love being able to see that the world doesn't make any sense and it's all silly and arbitrary and ideas like gender and money and, uh, neurological conditions are just random social constructs.

But more than that, I want to be able to explain all this great stuff to other people, tell them my so-crazy-it-just-might-work ideas of a better world. And if it just-full-stop-won't make sense to neurotypical people... then there's no point trying to explain, and there's no argument I can make to say e.g. "binary gender doesn't exist" which wouldn't just come out as "neuroatypical people don't understand binary gender", and there's no hope for my better world, because it's so crazy it just won't work.

This is what I've always feared, since way back when "I might have Asperger's" wasn't a credible reality, it was just my mother's parrotted obsession. I've had periods when I've become upset and frustrated and depressed to think that nobody will ever understand what I have to say; not on my own behalf, because I have an amazing support network of the most fantastic friends I could ever have hoped to meet, but, well, on behalf of everyone else who can't understand, I suppose. I know this all sounds horrendously arrogant, and I apologise, and if you are reading this I fully expect you're the kind of person who can understand, whether you're "neurotypical" or not - I'm just processing all these thoughts within the framework of the classic binary "neurotypical vs on-the-autistic-spectrum" distinction, partly to make the point of how it's total bullshit. But now I'm arrogant and digressing.

So after over a decade of thinking "I might be Asperger's" and understanding all that it entails and watching myself incessantly to make sure I learn, to make sure I try not to be "too Asperger's", to make sure I practise until I can actually connect with neurotypicals and make myself understood... after all that... what has a positive diagnosis done? It's taken away my motivation to try, to learn; it's presented me with the bold fact "Your brain is Just Not Like Normal People's", it's made me give up trying to understand these weird 'normal' people because apparently my brain makeup means I never will.

After years of trying my best to work on my socialising and my communication, in the dim awareness that I might have a neurological condition which hampers socialising and communication, I've been told that, yes, I actually do have a neurological condition which hampers socialising and communication... and so, what's the point of trying my best to work on my socialising and my communication?

I will accept that I fit the diagnostic criteria of mild Asperger's Syndrome. But I will not accept that these criteria make any sense within a social model of disability. Because to do so would be to give up hope. And that would be really, really stupid.



    Most salient point - a more in-depth blog post on the difficulties of reconciling an Asperger's diagnosis with the social model would be v interesting!

    M xx

  2. Poo, my comment was swallowed too, and I didn't get round to re-posting it before.

    What I was saying, though was that I refuse to think "that's really sad". Because I think you are awesome, because of who you are.

    And if someone has just come and noted that some of your characteristics can have a circle drawn round and a label attached, what bloody difference does that make? You're still the same awesome person. So what's to be sad about?

    (Unless the possibility of attaching said label is a flag that the normal beastlinesses of childhood, learning to be sociable, etc etc, were all particularly acute for you, in which case, retrospective sympathy. And frankly you're extremely good at being a social being and communicating interesting ideas, so I hadn't realised you'd found it unusually difficult. Much kudos.)

    xx E