Thursday, 8 December 2011

Final Asperger's report

Hopefully my lack of blogging in November will be redeemed, since there are now two main things to blog about!

The first thing to write about is the final report that the psychologist gave me. There's the report in full, and also a letter to give to potential employers/lecturers/services etc. The letter says (I'll summarise since it's two pages long) that I have Asperger's Syndrome, and the first page talks mainly about what Asperger's is and how it can affect people. The second page talks more about issues affecting people with Asperger's, and ends with a paragraph talking about how Asperger's affects me personally. It says that I am "extremely intelligent" and "able to 'learn' the things that neuro-typical people take for granted". To clarify, a 'neurotypical' person is one without Asperger's. It can be shortened to 'NT' - on a board I saw somebody ask if NT stood for 'Non-tistic', I quite like that term! Cat pointed out that by using that definition, people with other conditions affecting their nervous systems would be classified as neurotypical, but I digress. The paragraph goes on to say that it would be helpful for me to feel comfortable while working if coworkers could make appropriate allowances such as avoiding metaphors (I think I'd mostly be okay at this, though), avoiding ambiguous language and teasing (teasing with friends is one thing that I'm still adapting to: teasing in the workplace would be far worse). It says that I wouldn't enjoy office banter or small talk - I agree that while working I'd not enjoy these at all, but perhaps during lunch breaks I'd be okay. Still, it's easier to get people to start doing something, than to stop, in this case. Methinks. It talks about how if people with Asperger's do not feel understood, they can be prone to anxiety which can lead to mental health problems; but that "...with the right support and encouragement, people with Asperger's syndrome can lead full and independent lives and become a valued member of any workforce."

So I'll take that with me when I start job-searching. I intend to stay in uni for at least another year doing postgraduate study though, so perhaps I won't need this letter for a while.

Then there's the report itself: it's largely the same, but with a few differences with regard to the comments I sent the psychologist in response to the draft. I'm sitting on my bed with the draft and full reports in front of me, listening to the Katawa Shoujo soundtrack (the 'Painful Memories' theme is my favourite, I have that on loop at the moment), so I'll go through and compare.

"She can struggle to know when family members and colleagues are trying to give her helpful advice and can become angry and defensive – often feeling that people are picking on her": this has been amended to read "She can struggle to know when family members and colleagues are trying to give her helpful advice and can become quite sad, sometimes withdrawing into herself and saying very little if she feels that people are picking on her".

I think that that's more accurate.

"Catherine stated that she would become very angry if she had planned and activity and it was suddenly cancelled": this has become "Catherine stated that she would become upset, troubled and stressed if she had planned an activity and it was suddenly cancelled."

Firstly, I'm glad that she amended the typing error on 'and'. I also feel that the amended statement is more accurate: my parents and I agree that I'm not an angry person!

"If she was on her own, she would probably eat the same food every day": this has become "Catherine stated that she would prefer to eat the same thing every day, if she were not aware of how damaging that could be to her health in terms of lack of nutrition. When she is on her own, she tries to get the food groups relatively balanced, even though it is not what she would necessarily prefer to do."

I do try and eat a mix of things: sometimes though, I am just lazy and nutrition goes out of the window. Hopefully when term ends, I'll have more time to re-think my eating habits and plan meals, rather than eating whatever's in the fridge at that time.

"It may help others to understand Catherine better if she was able to explain need for personal distance and minimal touching": this has become "It may help others to understand Catherine better if those around her could understand her issues around touch. Catherine loves hugs and pats on the shoulder if she is expecting them. However, when a nurse shook her shoulders during a recent examination, it caught her by surprise, and she disliked it. When friends hug her, or other casual contact occurs when she is relaxed, she likes it. So for her minimal touching is not the issue - but touching without letting her know first can startle her if she is already stressed."

It's quite a big change, but a vital one I feel: a life without touch would sadden me greatly. I originally mistyped 'surprise' as 'sirprise' while writing this - I like the idea of Sir Prise! I digress.

...and I think those are the only changes. Mum and Dad have sent off the cheque to pay for the assessment, and I have a diagnosis. Result!

I took the report, 'employer letter', and a letter from my GP regarding my depression to disability services at university, so now my record is more up-to-date. I've applied for DSA (Disabled Students' Allowance), I think that they'll get in touch with me soon to assess me and see what support (if any) they can give me.

Hmm, I said that there were two main things that I wanted to write about. I'll write a second blog post for the other thing. Although the way that Blogger works, people would most likely read that one before reading this post. Hmm, that could be confusing. Ah well, I'll write the next blog post and see how it works out.

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