As you know, I have been working with Dr. Neil Weakly to improve my self-esteem, social skills and behavior difficulties. After extensive discussions, psychological testing and a brain scan, Dr. Weakly is convinced that I am to some extent mentally handicapped. As difficult as it was for Dr. Weakly to deliver this diagnosis, it was equally difficult for me to hear it. Nevertheless, similar to photos, tests don’t lie.
Take for example the fact that as a child, I had much difficulty integrating myself with other children. Debbie Pratt, my childhood nemesis, made an indelible impression on me by pushing me down and throwing my sister’s, hand-me-down, gold vinyl purse with a top lift latch, into a trash dumpster. Dr. Weakly believes this event is at the root of my inability, despite my high cognitive potential, to experience empathy for others.
I have to admit, there are times when, during a rousing bridal shower, my mind wanders off to how many origami figures could be folded with the discarded gift wrappings or if I remembered to drop off my dry cleaning. This unquestioningly detracts from my empathy for the bride. My boyfriend thinks that my remoteness is due to my two divorces, but he isn’t a doctor, and I think I should have displayed more involvement in the most recent, ‘what’s in the bag?’ bridal shower game. I hadn’t even noticed that I won because I was the only guest who carries a flashlight and a hammer in my purse.
Dr. Weakly asked me if I had ever heard of Asperger Syndrome. He explained that children with AS have an unusually sophisticated vocabulary at a young age and have been called, ‘little professors’. I told him that my first words were, “do you need me to do anything for you?” and was labeled, ‘little stinker’, so I don’t seem to fall into that category. I do however display many of the symptoms that accompany the following syndromes, ADHD, OCD, MPD, SAD, CDGS, DH, EBD, MDD and RAD. I’m thinking of having them printed on my business card.
Could I possibly have Asperger’s Syndrome? It is unmistakable that I carry the family’s genetic code which caused my grandmother to become distressingly confused by sliding doors, hinged doors and revolving doors. My mother made only right hand turns when driving, no matter where she was going and my father was most adept at delivering compliments that would inevitably come out as an insult. I have to admit, he was psychic though. Whenever there was an accident like spilled milk or one of us tripping over a shoe skate, he always said, “I knew that was going to happen.”
I kept glancing at the folder containing pictures of my brain scan on my drive home from Dr. Weakly’s. I wondered about the severity of my impairment and if I would ever be able to feel comfortable in my own skin. I flipped my sun visor down and gazed at my face, strikingly void of emotion. That is, until I nearly rear ended the car stopped at the light in front of me. I don’t think I’ll ever erase the reflection of the half-chewed Snickers bar in my mouth as I screamed.
It was the conversation that I had with my boyfriend, BJ, when I came home that confused me the most. He doesn’t agree with Dr. Weakly’s diagnosis and believes I should seek another opinion. Our conversation went something like this:
BJ: How was your session?
Me: I’m autistic.
BJ: Since when?
Me: Always, I guess.
BJ: Did that quack tell you that?
Me: Dr. Weakly is not a quack.
BJ: I don’t believe you’re autistic.
Me: I repeat things.
BJ: Lots of people do that.
Me: Okay, but when I was born I had seizures for the first few weeks.
BJ: You remember that?
Me: No, my mom told me.
BJ: What else?
Me: I was a head banger.
BJ: A what?
Me: When I was a toddler, I used to bang the back of my head on the couch, over and over and over.
BJ: Why did you do that?
Me: I dunno, I guess it made me feel better.
BJ: I still don’t believe you’re autistic.
I held up the file containing the pictures of my brain.
Me: Then explain this. I pulled out the scans and showed him.
The left side, the logical side of my brain, hasn’t even updated the Walmart logo from 2008, as Dr. Weakly pointed out.
BJ laughed. This is what he based your diagnosis on? I think the MD behind his name stands for ‘Mental Disorder’.
Me: He has PhD behind his name.
BJ: Yeah, piled higher and deeper.
Me: I think you would be convinced if you saw the results of my tests. They prove I have a multiple of syndromes. I swear, acronyms are me!
BJ: OK, you can believe Dr. Quack, but I don’t think you’re any different than anyone else.
Me: Oh yeah? Even my boyfriend is an acronym!