In a dorm room in a University College late on a Monday evening I reflect on a day that has probably had a little bit of everything in it.
We began our day with an early morning trip to the airport, complete with the usual little bits and pieces that go with that. Negotiating the traffic, taking the correct exit to access the correct car park. Finding the courtesy bus to the terminal, getting off at the right terminal. Negotiating the security scanners, thankfully no removal of shoes or belts or other paraphernalia was required. There was no explosive checks or any of that palava.
We found coffee, we found our gate and we waited for boarding. We had separate seats so we were prepared for that eventuality. We knew we were to be in the centre seats of the row and were expecting to have to deal with that. For my girl, this seems to be something she takes in her stride. For me not so much.
Wherever I go to a venue I always attempt an aisle. I get quite anxious and panicky when in the middle of people. I was reasonably close to the front of the plane, I counted that as something of a consolation to having to sit in the centre. Thankfully the person on the other side of me was already in place and I didn’t need to concern myself with the getting settled and then having to move to let them in scenario.
As I sat I was delighted to discover the plain equipped with the headrest screens so I could at least plug in my noise cancelling headphones and immerse myself in a movie. Incidentally I watched Paper Towns, I enjoyed it very much. What I hadn’t counted on of course was the eventuality of both of these men having a need to constantly extend their elbows.
This may not seem like much but it did mean for me a constant heightened awareness of that fact which on the wrong day and time can be quite difficult to manage and push me towards meltdown responses. Thank goodness for the immersion in the screen. I am quite convinced that was a real factor in my managing the situation well.
Arrival at Brisbane was seemless. Straight into a cab, and arrival at the university ahead of schedule. The next hiccup left the cab driver waiting for me, as I waited in the foyer of the University building for the person I was meeting to return from morning tea break to pay for the taxi. That was a little stressful but thankfully short-lived. Actually I think the receptionist was a little more stressed about not being able to raise her as I was.
After some consent form completion I was off to find the dorm room and my girl off to the first part of the testing. Three hours of a neuropsychiatric assessment. She seemed to take it in her stride when I caught up to her. I was needlessly concerned how she would manage the stress of it all.
I had a bit of downtime before it was my turn. I found my way over to the psychology unity and prepared myself for my three hours of testing.
As I prepared I wondered to myself, what if they assess me and conclude I am not autistic after all. I chuckled at this thought, recalling of course that this was a research assessment and not diagnostic and they would not be making such judgements. But nevertheless it did occur at some level.
I imagine such thoughts are throwback to so many years of self-doubt and wondering of what my identity and place in the world were.
Three hours of psych assessment is tiring. Hours of answering questions, identifying emotions, remembering words, pattern recognition and mental arithmetic take their toll. Even when it is something you enjoy.
I emerged, feeling like an old worn out sponge ready for recycling.
We head back tomorrow for stage two, another two hours for the two of us. My girl also has an MRI, so is looking forward to some time in the big tunnel. I get to visit the vampires to donate some of my red stuff to the archives of scientific investigation.
Whilst it is my hope and dream to be involved in co-produced research through such wonderful organisations as Autism CRC. It is an honour and a privilege to be a part of research that looks into the questions surrounding the Corpus Callosum, that largest white matter structure of the brain that science seems to have so little information about so far.