It was only in November 2016 when I first got diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (“ASD”, “autism”), and even today I struggle to cope with a weird consequence of that event: my own diagnosis doubt or skepticism about my own ASD diagnosis.
This skepticism usually takes the form of two types of questions. First we have what we might call the “nice” questions, such as:
- Am I really autistic?
- Was I somehow misdiagnosed?
- Did my doctor(s) maybe misread the evidence?
- But I have such a good sense of humor!
- But I can detect and use irony and sarcasm with great subtlety and nuance!
- Yes, I can be fiercely blunt, but it’s only an accident sometimes; for the most part I usually know when I’m being too blunt, and I only do it when the person really deserves it!
- How come I have no serious sensory processing issues?
- How come my memory isn’t that great?
- What if I am autistic, but autism is not really what’s wrong with me? What if my real problem is ADD or ADHD? Bipolar Disorder? Etc.
But then we have the “not nice” questions, for example:
- What if I’m really just an asshole?
- What if I’m just lazy and stupid?
- What if I’m just a lazy and stupid asshole?
- What if all I really need is more rejection?
- What if all I really need is to be scowled at or scolded some more?
- What if all I really need is to get fired again?
- What if there’s really nothing wrong with me that can’t be fixed with a good beating or maybe some jail time?
In particular, I find these latter “not nice” questions to be most revealing. For one thing, they’re all very subjective, value laden, and context dependent. Also, they’re all based on an antiquated theory concerning the value of cruelty and coercion — the preposterous idea that punishment is somehow a performance enhancer. Really these “not nice” questions appear to be grounded in the sort of unscientific world views most commonly associated with laypersons, bigots and other ignoranthropites.
So why am I asking them? Well, how about because sometimes such ignoranthropites can become quite powerful and influential (e.g. our current President), and when they do they invariably abuse their power and influence to control access to certain resources, and I’m seriously worried that when I have to ask these people to provide said resources, they’re just going to start asking these kinds of questions, and if I am to have any reasonable chance of convincing them to share with me those resources, then in theory I need to be able to answer these questions in a way that satisfies their apparent curiosity. Therefore, it would appear that I am asking these questions not because I seriously believe them to be good questions, but because I’m worried I may actually have to answer them at some point even though they aren’t!
But is that even possible? I see good reason to doubt it. These are not typically the kinds of questions people ask in search of objective answers — those would be the “nice” questions in the first group above. Really the “not nice” questions are just empty rhetorical devices, and their only value is that they reveal the poser’s prejudiced answers: “you’re just an asshole”, “your just lazy and stupid”, “…need a good beating….”, etc. When a boss seriously wonders whether all you need is to be fired again, then he or she has surely already decided to fire you, and is just looking for the right excuse to do so.
I can see no good reason to prepare oneself to answer questions that aren’t actually questions to begin with. I do think some kind of preparation is needed, but it doesn’t involve answering any questions. Rather, I’m pretty sure that the best and really only way to prepare for these kinds of “not nice” questions is to train yourself not to need whatever resources you think you need and which are currently being held hostage by the potential posers of the “not nice” questions in question.
I’m pretty sure that no matter what you think you need, if it can only be obtained with the validation, approval or permission of an ignoranthropite, then you are probably much, much better off with out it.
To be continued…
[Note: when Part 2 is published, I’ll post a link to it here.]
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