There is popular old chestnut of a saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It’s all very well to think that way and in a sense there is an element of truth to this old saying. So often we worry and wonder about what is going to happen, how things will go down, who will be there how will they respond and so many other minor details that are out of our control almost completely. Yet we worry. It’s like the worrying we do as we sit in a doctors waiting room waiting for the test results, waiting to find out what it is these fountains of much wisdom and knowledge are going to bestow upon us.
What outcome or pronouncement are they are about to make upon my future. What is it going to mean, how will it have impact upon myself, my children, my wife. What will it mean for the story of my future and my place and control over it. In some respects I found myself in this kind of situation about nine months ago. There I was sitting there in the waiting room in a kind of art deco building office on top of a McDonalds in a little inner northern Melbourne suburb. Waiting for the Dr. This time a psychologist, but a doctor nonetheless. Just not the medical doctor in the way we usually think. But nonetheless a professional in the health realm, with the credentials to bestow upon me an answer, or perhaps not. Perhaps just more questions, or intriguingly perhaps both.
How did I get to this point is really the crux of it all though. How did I find myself in this funny little waiting room, in this predicament. To understand this a rewind is required. rewind of 44 years really for the full picture. But perhaps a rewind of just a couple of years will suffice to get a broad brush stroke picture of how did I get hear.
My journey through life has always been one of an ever present, ever vocal, inner dialogue. With myself. With that part of me that didn’t fit with being merely my conscience. It was far more resilient and far more flexible and at times, far more accusing and judging. Ready at any and every opportunity to second guess, label and judge. Yet it was a dialogue that somehow made sense, that somehow, at least tried to help make sense of this strange world I inhabit. Make sense of the years of bullying, the years of being wrong, the years of loneliness.
This inner voice, I am convinced, is in large part responsible for me finding myself sitting in this particular waiting room at this particular time, waiting for these particular answers. But not the only thing.
A testing journey my life has surely been. A failed marriage with essentially a sociopathic woman, from whom it took some time and effort to escape, and to even realise I needed to escape. Not before fathering two wonderful daughters. The eldest, now 21, an incredibly wonderful young woman. This young lady was diagnosed at nine years of age with Aspergers, and then at 17 the discovery that she had no Corpus Callosum added to the complexity. Much testing and poking and prodding has she endured in her short life.
In a second marriage, to a wonderful, beautiful, empowering woman, I have been privileged to father a third wonderful young girl. At five years of age she too was diagnosed with Aspergers. These two girls played also a particular role in me being in this chair in this funny little waiting room.
My lovely wife, in no small part has been the empowering drive behind so much of my last 13 years of life. The support provided by her is invaluable and incalculable. I am and always will be indebted to her for the love, belief and care she has provided me and my three wonderful daughters. After a number of years of apparent hints, of which I did not pick up on, and eventual bluntness that an the girls are a lot like me and maybe, darling, you should think about that. Yet another factor that leads me to this seat in this waiting room.
The internet really is an amazing thing. It has allowed so much connection, information flow and access to resources, that twenty years ago we could not even fathom. There is good and bad in this, I think we all are able to appreciate that little tidbit. Without the bad of it the lunatics of the Anti-Vax brigade would surely not have the foothold they have. The evils of MMS and Genesis ][ would not be able to thrive.
Patterns are a thing I have often noticed throughout my life, I now had a pattern to find. What if my wife was onto something. What if there was something to this. Some inevitable time of denial, and not wanting to consider this was punctuated by occasional thinking and chats of maybe I need to find out some more. The internet, not Dr Google so much finding some instruments that could guide me.
Acronyms abound in the world of psychology and psychiatry. Even the bible thereof is known most familiarly by its acronym The DSM. I didn’t find the DSM what I found was the AQ. The AQ left me with further things to think about. I scored on this little diagnostic instrument a measly 46. I say a measly but really I was well into the range of likely. The AQ or the Asperger Quotient, or The Autism Quotient, doesn’t really matter which, led me to think. There must be other instruments, I found the Ritmo – thingamabob and the AspieQuiz at www.rdos.net. There were some differences but they all had pretty much the same thing to say. It could not have been much clearer if it had been up in lights.
RICHARD IS AUTISTIC!!!
By this time we’re about a year back from this day of sitting in this waiting room. Which really leads us at the direction of the psychologist who diagnosed my youngest girl to another day, sitting here on this very same seat about a 18 months earlier. I had just lost my job after I had managed to lose it with my employer and walked out never to return.
I sat waiting, the lovely and polite woman came and invited me in. We talked. We talked about so many things, family, relationships, friendships, routines, interests. The full gamut of subjects. The full range of observation of course was going on as well I now understand. Later we went through some formal testing, we played with blocks, I repeated back numbers, I played the old word association game. That was it. That was the process. Come on through let’s pay the bill.
Now we had a problem. I had been led to believe that my mental health plan would cover the majority. Nope, you have to pay in full. Okay.
Now here I am sitting on this chair. Eighteen months later finally able to have the funds available. So here I am sitting on this chair awaiting an answer.
I await thankfully not alone, thankfully supported yet again by my beautiful wife. The same lady comes out and calls us in. It’s time to know, once and for all, time to make it official. One way. Or the other.
I am not sure what I am thinking, feeling. It’s a bit of a daze. It’s a bit of floating through the atmosphere. She utters the words and I almost don’t hear them. Richard, yes I you have an ASD. I am not sure how to take it. I am somewhat in a state of shock. Not sure. Where to from here. What will happen next. What do I do with this. A joyous mixture of pleasure and pain. That old Dyvinls song really had it right, there really is a fine line between pleasure and pain.