Saturday, January 28, 2012

Testing, Questions

The day will likely come that we apply to make Diana our ward, since it seems unlikely she will be capable of making decisions, safely, for herself once she turns 18. At 18, doctors no longer need to talk to us, she can control her own funds, etc., unless she is declared incompetent and we make her our ward. The process of doing so must include paperwork that backs up our claim, and my mother-in-law made a rather pointed suggestion to my husband that we should start gathering that paperwork now, to start the paper trail, proving our claim and her need. Diana turns 15 this year.

Since she hasn't been seen by a neurologist or a psychologist since she was 3 for the initial diagnosis, this is necessary anyway. We really don't know what her level of cognition is, what her mental age is, how much of what she takes in that she really understands. I hope that the doctor and all her tests can shed some light on this.

Something else, things I've read, things I've heard, made me wonder about myself. Since her diagnosis, watching her grow, I have seen things in her that I recognize in myself. I was beginning to come to the conclusion that nearly everyone has some autistic traits, when really, I think it's me. I found a quiz online (yes, yes, I know, online quizzes are about as valuable as wooden nickels, probably less so), that tests for the likelihood of Asperger syndrome. "The goal of this test is to give a reliable indication of autism spectrum traits in adults." I took it, carefully considering my answers. (One of my college classes was on psychological testing, and some tests can be "defeated" if you know what to look for.) My score indicated that I am "very likely an aspie." Somewhat surprised, I considered some of the implications. If it's true, it could explain a good many things about why I am the way I am. It could also explain why Diana is the way she is, if her mother's also on the spectrum. I considered that carefully, how did I feel about that? Mostly what I felt was relief. It wasn't something I did, or didn't do. It wasn't anything but simple genetics. Not my fault. It might also explain why I have a much greater understanding of her than anyone else. Of course, since I work from home, I have spent more time with her than anyone else. She and I speak the same language, but very different dialects, maybe the difference between Parisian French and Québécois French.

I told my husband about the quiz and the results, and basically he thinks it's bunk. I asked him to humor me and also take the quiz. He scored as "likely neurotypical," which stunned me. I rather expected him to score more like I did. (Which may, in itself, be a symptom of AS - expecting others to think as you do.) I stressed that there was really no point in spending the money and getting a formal diagnosis; a diagnosis changes nothing, after all, it's not like there's some medication I should be taking, some therapy I will seek out. I told him all I wanted was his continued patience and understanding. 

Since that discussion, I've told only two other people, friends I respect, one of whom has some experience on a professional level with autism, one who was diagnosed as a child with ADD. Neither of them seemed convinced; one brushed it off with a question "what does it change if you are?", the other cautioned that AS was the "new ADHD" - a fad diagnosis - but was a little more open to the idea. 

The trouble is, I'm going to obsess over this until I find out from a professional, and if they diagnose me as neurotypical, I'm going to think they're wrong. My self-diagnosis (always a dangerous thing!) makes sense. it answers questions that I've asked since Diana received her diagnosis. The social phobias, the obsessiveness, the odd clumsiness, pattern-finding, etc., etc., etc... all explained under the umbrella of Asperger syndrome. And with that I have gained a sense of relief: I'm not weird, I'm an aspie! 

When Diana goes in for her testing in March, I intend to ask the neurologist about this. We'll see... Hey, maybe we could be part of an ongoing study somewhere!