I saw a Dr today. He knows I have Aspergers and tries hard to explain things honestly – such as ‘that test result means we don’t really know’, which I appreciate as I find it frustrating when Drs give definitive answers that do not match results but fulfil the usual patient expectation of having ‘the answer’.
I think this Dr expects me to be quite fragile, though I am not sure… He was certainly not expecting my comment that, ‘I have to die of something, everyone dies.’ (And no I have not got anything terminal – I was just explaining to him my philosophy on health.) He wanted to show me visuals (he uses them for lots of patients) and I shocked him by asking him not to as they are revolting! This is because contrary to his expectation that an aspie wants to see all the details, I prefer to not see models or photos of insides of bodies as it freaks me out! When I tried training to be a nurse I had to give up when I was supposed to learn how to take blood pressure with a manual cuff. This involves listening to the blood flow through the arm, and it turns out that I really really hate that – I don’t like having it done to me and I can’t stand doing it on other people. So that was the end of that. Teaching is so much less yucky!
However, these things made me think about just how many misconceptions there are about people on the spectrum when we are viewed as people on the spectrum, and the inherent irony in that. We need to be known to be and seen to be on the spectrum to be understood and yet when people expect that we will be the same as others on the spectrum that they may have known or read about or seen on tv. My visualisations are so intense that they can be disturbing or induce fits of giggles, yet other people on the spectrum may not have this type of experience at all.
Our complexities result in subtle and not so subtle differences and similarities. I think that when the expectation is of an individual with a diverse way of thinking, doing and being, then the misconceptions will fall away.
I know that I have been guilty of those misconceptions too, and another one was shattered this week when a reluctant writer spontaneously wrote up some research at home and brought it in to class to show me. I was so happy to see that they were so motivated to write that they were able to cross out mistakes and move beyond their perfectionism. I overcame my own perfectionism about writing age 11 when my then English teacher refused to mark my six pages of beautifully written work because, “the writing is too small and you wrote in pencil when you were meant to use pen.” I may have got over this in time but a few days before he had written “the content of this essay is inappropriate for school” on my story about a hypothetical picnic with a hypothetical boyfriend. I was 11 and very naive so I have no idea what was inappropriate about it….Together it was too much and my handwriting has never been as beautiful as it was then and from that time on my stories at school lacked any effort or passion.
So, I think it is vital to forget all your preconceived notions of how autism/aspergers will manifest in any one person and get to know them as individuals just like you would any other client/patient/student/family member/friend etc. In turn I am trying to see the good in everyone and to learn how others think/feel/act about various things, not so I can emulate them but so I can understand them and interact with them more meaningfully.DSC00554.JPG