The diagnostic criteria. We need to change the words!

I have decided to take offence. Everyone else seems to be taking offence at anything and everything, and so I have decided to join in.  So maybe I do not have difficulty interacting with my peers after all?

All of the words are subjective and pejorative.  They all imply deficits and criticisms.  ‘Impairment, inappropriate, narrow, exclusion, indifference, compulsive, superficial, odd, limited, peculiar’ and so on.  Who decided this?  By whose rules is this written? And, how on earth is this meant to help me feel better?

So, I have to lie and pretend do I?

My husband asked if I was worried about my diagnosis interview today.  I said that I was because, well, that’s just a continual state of being.  I am up and alive, so yes, I am worrying.  I also explained that I worry about lying and pretending.  I am so used to doing this in order to survive that it just happens.  I worry about accidentally telling the truth because I haven’t used my ‘intuition’ to figure out that I have to lie, so waffle and appear to be completely different from who I really am and never demonstrate how I am really feeling. He said that of course I should tell the truth.

I told my husband that I was going to take offence at the criteria when taking part in my ASD assessment later today.  I told him that I was going to ask the psychologist if she is Autistic or not, and if not, then how is she able to understand me?  He told me that this was a bad idea.  He said that if I wanted something from her, then I shouldn’t say anything critical.  So, I do have to lie and pretend then? 

How could I have known that I was what is commonly known as an ‘Aspie’? 

If you’d asked me if I had difficulties interacting with my peers, then I would have said no.  I would have said that I had lots of friends and was popular.  It wouldn’t have occurred to me that what I had were not friends at all and that I wasn’t popular.  I was tolerated and regarded as an oddity.  If I made them laugh, or looked after their needs, or stuck up for them, or did their homework, or introduced them to others, then they grouped around me.  How could I have known?  And would it have helped if I had realised?  Might it not have made my life even more confusing and lonely?

Social interaction.

I had no idea that there were rules of social interaction and engagement and contact and speech and on and on the list goes.  I had no idea and I still have no idea.  I mean, I am reading and listening and being told that these secret, invisible rules exist that they all know.  But I don’t understand, and if I don’t understand something then I can’t accept it.  I was told to leave the O level Science class because I refused to accept concepts – like the existence of oxygen – unless they demonstrated it to me.  Since they wouldn’t or couldn’t, I refused to accept a notion just because they said so.  I was thrown out and never completed any Science lessons again. 

Social cues?  What on earth are you talking about?

I took part in drama and theatre groups for years.  I was very good and successful.  Sometimes the script was provided and sometimes I wrote it.  Once the script was learned, then the cues would become obvious.  But, without the script how on earth would I have known when it was my cue?  Impossible.  To then be chastised or criticised or condemned for not adhering to an invisible non- existent prompt would be crazy surely? Apparently not.  Apparently, the NT’s are born with the script already written and all of their cues nicely highlighted so they won’t miss them.  Is this true?  Is this a thing? I always presumed that I knew the more fun, more honest and more moral way to be and that others aspired to it, but just weren’t brave enough.  I also presumed therefore, that they were grateful for someone who was brave enough.  Foiled again Hong Kong Phooey!  

Interpreting social cues.

In the autism diagnosis criteria, it says that there will be difficulties interpreting social cues.  Who wrote this?  An NT?  What social cues?  How could I have ‘difficulty’ understanding something that I didn’t know existed?  This implies that I might have known, but then spent longer than I should trying to react appropriately.  This suggests that I wanted to understand these cues, but that it was a struggle.  This is not the case at all.  I had absolutely no idea they existed and was certainly not trying to understand or interpret them.  I still have no idea what they are, and I still don’t understand why I have to.  I mean, I do understand that apparently it would help me ‘fit in’ or be regarded as more acceptable if I tried to understand them.  I understand that you are telling me that, but that is it.  Can you understand the difference?

Is my behaviour ‘socially and emotionally inappropriate’?

 If this means that I am jumping around, playing games, asking lots of questions, wanting lots of answers, wearing bright colours and insisting on a floral back-pack instead of a handbag, then is the answer yes?  If you mean asking lots of questions with a genuine interest in the other person, their feelings and their life, then maybe?  Is this inappropriate?  I have read that something called ‘over sharing’ is against your rules.  How would I possibly know these rules and how could I adhere to something so subjective?  How much is sharing and how much is over?  Is this another of those inbuilt innate rule books that NTs are born with?  But I was built with mine.  Mine says that it is great fun to talk and to learn and to ask and to tell. 

Apparently telling the truth is socially inappropriate.  And, apparently trying to help is also socially inappropriate.  So when someone says they are struggling with x,y or z, I am not supposed to discuss the issue, why it probably exists, and then offer strategies that would address or even solve it.  I am supposed to say ‘oh dear, that’s a shame’.  Am I?

Apparently, getting very excited about a topic – especially if it is geography or sociology or philosophy or politics – is not socially appropriate.  Why bring something up if no response, or a very muted one is required? That seems very ridiculous and inappropriate to me.  I don’t want to waste my comparatively short life on wishy washy nonsense.  Am I supposed to wear grey, sit still and keep quiet waiting to die?  Will that way make me immortal?  To use my favourite line from Bridge of Spies, I say – will it help?  And just another line that really epitomises how I feel.  Mrs Bennett in Pride and Prejudice says – I do not see that.  Why should I see that?  Exactly my feelings.  Maybe she was Autistic.  She did spend a lot of time in bed worrying and crying after all.

Tales from the toilet.  In fact, tales from everywhere but quite often, from the toilet. 

What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?  Line I remember from a poem I used to illustrate some photography I did as part of my degree.  The poem is about the beauty and the wonder of the world bemoans the fact that most people miss it.  I don’t want to miss a thing.  I want to see and feel and hear and then I want to discuss it.  Something always goes wrong in public toilets.  I don’t like them so get very flustered.  I trip, get locked in, can’t find the way out, can never work these new fangled sensor taps and sometimes miss the seat because I refuse to sit on it and will never look.  I presume that this fun adventure can be relayed to others and that it will amuse and entertain them.  Socially and emotionally inappropriate I presume?

Narrow interest? Exclusion of other activities?

Well obviously. How else does a job get done? If I start something, then I would like to finish it.  I would like to address the issue seriously and complete it to the best of my ability – especially if it helps someone else.  Why is this narrow?  Once one area I deem to be my current special task is completed, then I will move on to the next.  When building a bridge, or conducting open heart surgery, or flying the plane or raising a child or even just cooking dinner, is it not advisable and preferable to focus entirely on the task in hand.  And surely it is better to start at the end and work backwards.  Surely you need to know where it will all end before you start?  The alternative seems to a very chaotic and unconstructive way to approach anything. 

More rote than meaning?

I have no idea what you mean so am presuming this proves the point?  Whatever that might be.

Compulsive need for introducing routines and interests.

Sorry, please forgive me, but again I have to shriek – what??  Isn’t that life?  Isn’t that what everyone does to survive?  What am I missing this time? I object to the use of the word compulsive here because it suggests/ implies that it is a bad thing.  Get me and my reading the underlying meaning!  I am spontaneous but only as long as I am planning it and I can include my own routines and interests.  Without some sort of planning/ routine and without some sort of interest that ignites thought and passion and pleasure, surely I would end up on the sofa with my daughter watching Love Island – or Dance Moms – or, for goodness sake – Say Yes to the Dress.  I am desperate not to live like this so plan what to do and when and make sure it is something I care about.  She compulsively watches the aforementioned programmes, but no one seems to have a problem with that. 

Does the above affect every aspect of my everyday life?

 Well, I planned it all and I wanted to do it all so of course it does.  Does it affect others?  Does that mean in a bad way?  Does that imply that it shouldn’t? It affects my husband that he gets everything planned and sorted and executed.  He doesn’t have to prepare or research or even think.  All is done, the route planned, the lunch packed, and the evening dinner arrangements taken care of.  He knows that I have to get up at least an hour before leaving the house.  I need to sit and think.  I need to drink coffee and to use the bathroom.  Is this every day?  Yes.  Does it affect others?  Well only if they feel obliged to get up at the same time.  Obviously, I will stumble over something on my way out of bed, then drop something, then need the light on briefly to find something, and then will decide to empty the dishwasher or mow the lawn at 4am.  Last one was a joke! 

Is my speech and language peculiar?

Well, it is very good.  Is that what peculiar means?  I don’t mind that others can’t express themselves and often can’t even conjugate their verbs properly.  I notice and wonder, but I don’t mind.  So why should they mind that I can express anything and everything extensively and elaborately?  And I only try to use verbs appropriately because those are the rules.  As I used to tell my students – if 2 + 2 still equals 4, then using ‘we was’ will never be a thing. 

Do I misinterpret implied meanings?

For goodness sake!  Why are they implied?  Just say what you mean people.

Delayed speech development?

How very dare you.  I knew every car on the road by age two and wrote play scripts for any and every unsuspecting guest or indeed stranger, to perform. 

Peculiar voice characteristics?

It’s acting darling!  What do you expect?

Limited use of gestures.

I presume this actually means limited use of the ‘right’ gestures.  Limited use of the ‘acceptable’ gestures?  I certainly do not have a limited use of anything.  I jump and dance and clap and whoop.  Not at all limited then!

Clumsy? 

Well,at school they gave me a tennis racket and a football and sent me outside alone when everyone else learned squash.  I can’t get across stepping -stones unless I have a branch to hold or someone offers me merely a little finger to grasp.  When I say I can’t, I really mean it. I cannot lift my leg in the air to move forward.  I am totally paralysed.  I did try skiing – but had to throw myself to the floor immediately after putting the boot thing on.  I was no longer connected to the ground – what on earth is that about?  When propped back up I was then attached to pieces of wood over which I had no control, and then I was expected to slide around gracefully.  I became hysterical and was removed from the lesson.  I sat in the car for 2 hours, sobbing and unable to move.

I take a tea towel out and about in case of impromptu eating or drinking.  I will inevitably miss the cloth and spill something on my clothes.  I try to look pretty for dinner out and am reduced to tears each time I spoil it by spilling and staining something.  I try to wear girly shoes and we end up buying plasters and pumps in the first hour. 

I can’t open bottle tops with my hands or fingers.  I have to use my teeth.  And I absolutely can’t open the silly slippy bags for vegetables without licking my fingers.  The corona virus thing has made this particularly hazardous as I have to secretly move my mask, do the licking and try to open the bag.  In the end I give up and just buy one pepper or one lemon.  It’s easier. 

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