Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Aspergers & Diagnosis

There's a lot of vitriol out there over self-diagnosis of Asperger's and 'high functioning' (which seems to mean 'get along well enough to not be diagnosed as young children'- example in the comments here) Aspies. For the record, I'm *not* self-diagnosed. Two different doctors (in different states, at different facilities) came up with it. The second, who is my current therapist, did an evaluation of me five years ago and when I moved back to Texas and started seeing her regularly for therapy, mentioned that she'd been learning about it since she last evaluated me and went 'hey, I should have put this in the report.' So even good doctors CAN miss it-ey're focusing on 'oh, this person has been diagnosed with major depression and ADD, can we fit everything else into those' rather than looking at those separately. I think almost everyone has *some* aspie traits. I mean, it's like the descriptions of ADD or depression- of course everyone has times when they're distracted easily, or feeling down. It's the persistence and frequency and presence of multiple symptoms that make a disability- not just occasional moments. I don't think anyone really disputes that. But attacking someone as 'not autistic enough' when they try and speak for autism is a kind of low blow- even if you don't agree with them and don't feel that what they say is typical.

The way I see it, an actual doctor's diagnosis is important- I might even say essential- particularly if you're going to be getting accomodations at work or at school- and especially if you're 'high functioning'. Especially if you're using a psychiatric service dog.

At the same time... I think th

Saturday, December 30, 2006

So... the point of this blog is to have some place to rant about Aspie stuff. (And some about what I've learned about accomodations and learning style from training dogs.) I'm 26 years old and was recently (July) diagnosed with either Asperger's or NLD- both learning differences which are on the autism spectrum. It's the first diagnosis I've ever gotten from a psychiatrist that I ever felt like fit. It explained why there were just things that everyone else just KNEW - like how to start a conversation or when it was okay to talk to strangers and when not to- that I had to have explained. (And they still didn't make sense or necessarily stick with me.) I'm grateful to have finally gotten a diagnosis from a professional that I felt comfortable with. Previous doctors have mostly said "Well... we haven't a clue, she's obviously very bright but we have NO BLEEDING CLUE why certain things just don't seem to work for her?" (I scored very highly on IQ and spatial skills testing, but in the very poor range for facial recognition.) I've even been scored as 'schizotypal' and 'narcissistic' by another doctor (One with a grudge, I suspect- I questioned his professionalism in our second meeting but was unable to get a change of therapists due to my health care at the time.) And apparently not understanding people's motives and not wanting to speculate is selfish, rather than discreet. *shrug* I've NEVER understood that one.

My family initially was very uncomfortable with this diagnosis. "You can't be on the autism spectrum!"My mother was HORRIFIED. "You talk, and you're not violent or anything." I can't remember her exact words, but it was something very similar to that. She had a number of objections to this diagnosis. I should mention that my mother holds a master's degree in education and is far from unintelligent. But we've all done some reading and gone "wow, that makes sense." I'm also part of a community where I live which helps people with psychiatric disabilities manage things that are tough for them. (I have someone who comes in weekly and helps with house-care, which I have trouble with, and reminds me to do laundry and whatnot, although I'm much better than I used to be. I also have a caseworker, who helps me make and keep doctor's appointments that aren't on a regular basis- I have trouble with schedule changes.) I'm settling in and managing. In September, just after I moved in here, my psychiatric service dog died. Among her trained tasks was med reminders, and with the help of my caseworker, I got through that too, and my new dog in training has nearly gotten to the point of learning that task, even though he's a long way from ready to work much in public. I have a new job, doing marketing for an IT company. For the first time in a while, I think my life is holding together. I'm not sure where it's going, but at least it's forward motion. Reading some of the autism community blogs- especially Qw88nb88- has been really helpful in thinking of ways to cope and adapt to being able to function better in my new job- and hopefully school next semester.

Over and out, ya'll. Have a good new year's and be safe.