Yes. I am back on my bullshit, thankyou for noticing. What a fine, feculent, steaming pile of it I have today… because there are some fellow Autistes and other mentally ill folk who are at the untender alleged mercies of people who can’t ask questions correctly. I am vexed. I am furious. I am pissed off.
Let me tell you about this cock-up of epic proportions called “diagnosis”. There are forms to fill out and, though a Neurodiverse Person may be an expert about it on the inside, they have to prove it to a Nypical observing from the outside. Because it’s those Nypicals who have a degree in something who have to fill out the forms for you.
I had some of those forms, yesterday. Answering questions about my childhood and personality traits et cetera on a scale of:
- Definitely Agree
- Slightly Agree
- Slightly Disagree
- Definitely Disagree
Those were the only four options. A lot of these questions ended up having essay fucking answers because they are vague as shit. There are some of them with qualitative aspects. Or asterisks. Things like [and I’m paraphrasing here] “I enjoy talking with people.”
What the actual F? There’s even Nypicals who would answer that with an asterisk. I mean, nobody in this world wants chat time with a racist, sexist, egotistical asshole except another of their own kind. Co-incidentally, none of them would want to share airspace with a tree-hugging feminist egalitarian with socialist leanings.
I enjoy talking with my fellow nerds. I enjoy time with co-weirdos of the same flavour. I would hate to be forced to speak in a room full of NIMBY Climate Deniers who think that the outdoors can just be air-conditioned and the homeless or disabled just aren’t working hard enough.
This one questionnaire had to be taken in two sessions because there were so few… call them ‘assessment statements’… that did not require some extended minutes of explanation concerning them.
I found most of them to be not only vague, but glib and glossy and even confounding to people who might not know the actual meaning behind the assessment statements. I even thought of a few more telling assessment statements.
Like this: instead of “I do well in social situations”, which can be a learned behaviour or even a performance evaluation… how about, “I get very tired after a social situation.” My option speaks more to the actual effort an Autiste like me would have to use in order to “do well” in a social situation.
Masking is a thing. Some Autistes are so practiced at it that they don’t realise that they’re doing it until they fall asleep on the way home. Or, in the case above, are told that being exhausted by social situations is not Nypical Normal. Masking can cover up an accurate, diagnostic answer from “I do well in social situations” because a Masking Autiste can logically say, “Oh yes, I perform well in social situations, so that must mean I do well.” They would give the Wrong Right Answer.
For those unfamiliar: the Wrong Right Answer is a phenomenon amongst Autistes and other Neurodiverse Peoples. A simple example here is: A child is given a range of coins to sort “from smallest to largest” in Australian currency. A Nypical child will lay out those coins in the order of value: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, and $2. A Neurodiverse kid, on the other hand, will sort them by physical size: 5c, $2, 10c, $1, 20c, and 50c. It’s a right answer, but it’s not the expected right answer and is therefore wrong. A Wrong Right Answer.
Psychological questionnaires are overloaded with the potential for Wrong Right Answers. Some of those include a knowledge of what the Right Answer should be. It’s wrong to say that you have no friends, or… you have a regular group of people you have conversations with, so they must be friends, right?
This is why following up on those nebulous questions is so important in the field of psychology. You can’t just accept the initial, glossy answer to a shallow or nebulous glossy assessment statement or question. Go a little deeper. Follow things up. Get the goddamn essay out of your suspected Neurodiverse Person.
I guarantee that the essay will be way more educational and informative than the one-of-four tick-box options.
Ever since Scantrons, we have relied upon tick-boxes or filled bubbles to get some kind of picture out of people. Their schooling knowledge, their romantic attributes and mate potential. Even their psyche. That sort of thing dates back to the 1950’s. The nineteen fifties.
The era of fucking valves and magnetic tape spools.
Technology has advanced, but we still don’t want to do anything more than look at a bunch of filled bubbles and come up with a number that means… whatever.
A degree or an expulsion. A date or a lonely night in. Help or an absence thereof, regardless of how much that person may struggle. They were duly assessed and the Wrong Right Answer was never considered as a factor.
Because it was fast. Because it was easy. Because looking at the essays takes way too much time. Because it’s somehow better this way.
Speaking as someone who’s fallen through the cracks because of the Wrong Right Answer… I can tell you that it is definitively not better this way.
We need another way.
We need a better way.
Doing that today would be nice, don’t you think?