A Bit Odd(er)

Eddie Redmayne - Newt Scamander
Newtis­tic Spec­trum Disorder

I just spent some time with some won­der­ful kind peo­ple who got me to that man­ic place of talk­ing where I just won’t shut up and it gave me an oppor­tu­ni­ty to explain to some­one some­thing that has left me some­what, per­pet­u­al­ly, gob­s­macked since my third and final appoint­ment with Dr. Emi­ly Craw­ford-Thomp­son last Tuesday.

I went in to the first appoint­ment hav­ing read and researched and put in hours and even in a sense, years of self-dis­cov­ery and analy­sis to arrive at final­ly hav­ing a rea­son why I’m just a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent from every­body else… A lit­tle bit more dif­fer­ent than every­body else is dif­fer­ent from every­body else.

So cer­tain and yet full of uncer­tain­ty and fear.

Ter­ri­fied that an attempt at a late diag­no­sis would be sab­o­taged by all the mask­ing and direct eye con­tact and forced exec­u­tive func­tion­ing con­trol over my mouth and body, would be unsuccessful.”

Yeah sure, you might have been autis­tic once, but now you’re just a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent like every­body’s a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. If you find out oth­er­wise, what do you want, a T‑shirt?”

A Friend

I did­n’t know what I showed her in that first appoint­ment. I did­n’t know how much my mom was able to tell her of my devel­op­men­tal years through the lens of her per­cep­tion that would indi­cate autism.

The sec­ond appoint­ment was inten­sive­ly and exhaus­tive­ly diag­nos­tic. Ques­tions, forms, spa­tial per­cep­tion, and mem­o­ry chal­lenges. I at least walked out of the door that day with her kind­ly assur­ing me that I final­ly arrived at a suc­cess­ful ter­mi­nus of a jour­ney down so many dis­parate and failed paths.

I hon­est­ly did­n’t know what to expect from the third appoint­ment. I was­n’t even sure that I want­ed there to be a third appoint­ment. I walked in and she hand­ed me a sta­ple pack­et of at least two dozen pages. Such strong and sur­pris­ing­ly mixed emo­tions going through her obser­va­tions and then my test results.

I need­n’t have wor­ried, though it’s very odd to phrase it like that.

It was actu­al­ly pro­found­ly painful to see clin­i­cal obser­va­tions that echoed non-clin­i­cal obser­va­tions that I had heard in one form or anoth­er, for the first half of my life. Heard from exas­per­at­ed par­ents and teach­ers and from mock­ing chil­dren and peers, and lat­er friends and employ­ers… From well-mean­ing peo­ple who sin­cere­ly want­ed to help (but were even­tu­al­ly forced to give up) me see why what I was, was odd and how to be oth­er­wise if I want­ed to hurt less.

My mask may pass for every­day inter­ac­tions, espe­cial­ly if peo­ple do not have rea­son or oppor­tu­ni­ty to look too close­ly. My friends are either used to it, or dis­miss deal­ing with the guy behind an uncon­vinc­ing mask as part of the cost of doing busi­ness, or indeed friends who some­times nev­er real­ize that they are deal­ing with an assumed persona.

Not so, she.

From the moment I walked in, I showed her a per­son liv­ing as an adult with Asperger’s.

For emo­tion­al secu­ri­ty I had to bring the lap­top bag that I have to bring with me every­where. It was notat­ed in her notes. She did­n’t miss that I’d sewn on attach­ment points for a shoul­der strap, or to hold a roll of elec­tri­cal tape, or from which to dan­gle a pulse oxime­ter clove-hitched to an infrared thermometer.

My prac­ticed eye con­tact and forced smiles with hon­est but trained Duchenne signs hid nothing.

My fears, while legit­i­mate, were not legit­imized as fact.

It felt some­what like being teased and laid bare again like in mid­dle- and high-school, but for one last time and for a good cause.

I walked out of there feel­ing pain I had­n’t felt in decades.

I walked out of there elat­ed. I was­n’t Asperger’s.

I am Asperger’s.

I’m a bit odd, but not quite in the same way as every­body else.

I’m a bit odd, and I know why.

I’m a bit odd and I no longer have to waste and wor­ry and hurt about the ‘why’.

I’m a bit odd and I can get on with learn­ing what a per­son who is a bit odd can learn how to do to nav­i­gate his path with few­er stum­bles and barked shins and less wast­ed ener­gy wor­ry­ing about the why, the when, the how of stum­bles and barked shins, ener­gy that can be put towards deal­ing with the inevitable, get­ting back up, find­ing the wis­est path to traverse.

Hi, I’m Chris­t­ian Cepel, and I’m soon going to change my name to Chris­t­ian Pud­dleglum Ran­som Harp­er, it’s a long sto­ry and I’m more than hap­py to share it in exhaus­tive detail, but first… Did you know that Phillips-head screws are designed to cam-out?”

Asperger’s and I

Eddie Redmayne - Newt Scamander
Bet­ter iconog­ra­phy than a blue puz­zle piece.

I have desired for over a month to try to com­mit my thoughts and feel­ings to an arti­cle where I house such things, but inspi­ra­tion to com­pose escapes me. I am no near­er know­ing how to pro­ceed so I am writ­ing to write to begin the process expect­ing there to be major revisions.

First, June Twen­ty-Twen­ty-one has come to have as much sig­nif­i­cance as oth­er dates I con­sid­er ‘Life Events’.

With almost crip­pling anx­i­ety I arrived at the offices of Emi­ly Craw­ford-Thomp­son for my sec­ond of three vis­its, the for­mal eval­u­a­tion vis­it. I had read of oth­ers con­sid­er­ing the test­ing to be ardu­ous but did not real­ly cred­it it. Now I feel that they must have been describ­ing their expe­ri­ence with reser­va­tion. When final­ly done, it was all I could do to ask when I would know the results. With pro­found com­pas­sion, she told me that she had already con­firmed my diag­no­sis of Asperg­er’s. A flood­gate of feel­ings of relief and life­long ques­tions answered rushed through me and I start­ed sob­bing in my weird way. She said Asperg­er’s, so while it will be a diag­no­sis of Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der, she did con­firm that it was of a char­ac­ter in keep­ing with the retired dis­tinc­tion of “Asperg­er’s”.

Fantastic Aspies and Where to Find Them

Eddie Redmayne - Newt Scamander
No direct eye-con­tact ini­tial­ly or when nervous.
Eddie Red­mayne and J.K. (her char­ac­ter direc­tion to ER) have skat­ed around (and delib­er­ate­ly across in inter­views) it, but our dear Huf­flepuff is def­i­nite­ly an Aspie. 

Newt: Peo­ple like you, don’t they, Mr. Kowalski?

Jacob: Oh. Well, I’m, uh, I’m sure peo­ple like you, too, huh?

Newt: Not real­ly, no. I annoy people.

.

— Fan­tas­tic Beasts & Where to Find Them