Am I Really Autistic? — Towards A Solution to Diagnosis Doubt, Part 1

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.]


Image Credit: Shutterstock

 

If a Company Can’t Even Accept Dreadlocks, How Could It Ever Accept Autism, Bipolar Disorder, and Other Forms of Neurodiversity?

I just came across this story about a woman who was denied employment because she had dreadlocks. I find it notable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the EEOC deemed it worth taking to the Courts back when Obama was President, but rejected my own (autism related) case under President Donald Trump. But perhaps most significantly, the story reminds me of yet another of MetLife’s dirty little secrets:

MetLife Has a “No Hats” Policy.

cute_baby_with_hat_315x210NO HATS??? That’s right, MetLife employees are in violation of the company grooming policy if they wear hats during the work day. It’s OK to wear them to and from work, apparently, but if you’re caught sporting a fashionable beret or deerstalker while working, you can be written up for violating the company’s dress code.

With the dreadlocks case, the EEOC tried to argue along the lines that dreads were commonly worn by African-American people, so discriminating against dreads was effectively discriminating against African-Americans, and the Courts rejected that approach because dreadlocks are a choice, while being African-American is not a choice.

But I think another argument could be made based on the premise that company policies against trivial stuff like dreadlocks and hats gobble up limited policy-enforcement resources that would be better invested into enforcing the company’s policies against discrimination. The idea here is that if a company is wasting its limited policy-enforcement resources on hairstyles and headdresses, then how on Earth can it hope to enforce more important policies, such as those that prohibit discrimination against, say, people with Autism, Bipolar Disorder, etc.

dreadlocks-business_woman_315x210I don’t remember if MetLife discriminates against people with dreadlocks, but I do know the company discriminates against people who like to wear hats. Perhaps if the company could be persuaded to allow hats (dreadlocks, etc.), it might subsequently become more tolerant of the neurodivergent…

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

Diversity Acceptance Consultant, At Your Service! — Another Open Letter To The Folks Who Recently Fired Me Illegally For Being Autistic

Dear Folks Who Recently Fired Me Illegally For Being Autistic:

laptop_outside

This is not really a picture of the laptop I’ve stolen, but it does exemplify the kind of excellent care I am taking of the real device. Everyday I take it out for some fresh air and sunshine. Image Credit: Pixabay

First, it’s been a good 10 days now since I’ve confessed to stealing your laptop in order to protest your decision to fire me illegally for being autistic, and I must admit that I feel surprised but fundamentally relieved that I haven’t been arrested yet.

Although I am psychologically prepared to “do the time” for this civilly disobedient cyber crime I’m committing, of course I’d much rather you all just come to your senses and give me back the job you stole from me. But if you really want to send an autistic man to prison over this, well, then rest assured I’m really prepared to go. But in the meantime, every day that I don’t go feels like a gift, and I’m grateful and fundamentally relieved to receive it.

I don’t know what’s taking you all so long to figure out what to do about our predicament, but as long as you’re mulling things over, I would like to suggest a third option — a kind of compromise, really — if it will make things easier for everybody. Basically, I’m wondering if you might like to become my very first paying clients for my new Diversity Acceptance Consulting business.

Please allow me to elaborate:

The obvious (to me) fact that you all fired me for being autistic strongly suggests that despite your company’s being one of the more autism friendly places to work, it nonetheless has some growing it might do with respect to its current Diversity and Inclusion Strategy — especially as this strategy addresses the autism issue, specifically, but probably also the more general issue of psychiatric disability as wellIn my opinion, and I hope you will agree, your company could really benefit from the help of an actually autistic person such as myself — someone who has the skills, background, and experience necessary to challenge your own complacent (let’s face it) and self-congratulatory (just being honest here) status quo, and to lead you all towards greater awareness, understanding, and especially acceptance of autistic people and more generally the psychiatrically disabled as well.

laptop_with_other_objects_323x210

Again, not your laptop, per se, but yours is comfortable and in the company of friendly and familiar objects. Image Credit: Pixabay

Now, I realize you’re probably skeptical, of course. I know my methods are somewhat eccentric or unconventional. Heck, I bet I’m the only service provider you’ve ever encountered who is actually willing to risk going to prison in order to offer his services to a prospective client, am I right?

But if you know anything useful about autism, you know that if I were truly capable of doing things the way normal people do them, I would have done so long ago. I didn’t choose to be the way I am. Nobody chooses to spend his life with his nose pressed to the glass wondering what its like to be a “normal” person. And nobody should be surprised when an autistic person does something unconventional, eccentric, or just plain weird. If my methods surprise you, then clearly you haven’t spent enough time with autistic people, and that’s a problem I was born to help you solve.

Also, I think if you are honest with yourselves — if you take a good hard look at the facts —  you’ll see that much of my work with your company has already been completed. I’m sure that if you all take careful stock of what you’ve learned about autism in the past few weeks — learned with my help, and, I might add, at great personal risk to me and my family — if you really open your eyes to how you now feel about autistic people (perhaps not me, per se, but at least other autistic people) and especially the whole situation vis-a-vis autism in general, I’m quite sure you will see that I definitely deliver the goods. I’m sure you are now much more aware, understanding, and accepting of autistic people than you were.

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Image Credit: Pixabay

I’m all about customer satisfaction, and oh, did I mention that I offer a 100% money back guarantee?

Yes, that’s right, you understood correctly — a 100% money back guarantee!

Due to the unorthodox nature of the service I offer, for now at least I have chosen to use an entirely tip-based business model. Like a waiter in a restaurant or a street performer, first I deliver my service to my customers for their complete enjoyment, and only after they’ve had a chance to fully benefit from that service do I offer them the opportunity to pay me, with absolutely no obligation to do so.

Yup, you understood that correctly: if you are not completely satisfied with my Diversity Acceptance Consulting service, then you don’t have to pay me a dime. Of course, if you are, say, 30% satisfied, then my hope is that you will pay me 30% of what you would have paid me if you’d been 100% satisfied, but I will leave all of those details entirely to your discretion. The upshot here is that because I’m running a tip-based business with all this, my customers have total control over whether and how much I get paid or not.

In any case, that’s the compromise I’d like to offer you. If you simply cannot give me back my job, and you simply cannot bring yourselves to press charges against me, then how about taking a middle road by becoming my first paying customer for my Diversity Acceptance Consulting business? If you do that, I will still keep your laptop as a souvenir, but you can definitely deduct the cost from whatever you were going to pay me.

I hope that makes things easier for you all. As I said, I am all about customer satisfaction!

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

Diversity Acceptance Consultant — at your service!

flying_walrus

 

 


Image Credit: Shutterstock (colored blocks)

Or Should I Say: Autism Is Like When Your Car’s Steering Wheel Is Perfectly Balanced, And All The Roads Are Curved…

…and whether the roads curve a little or a lot, you must always adjust for their curvature, and nobody should be shocked if sooner or later you land in a ditch.

Sincere Apologies For Yesterday’s Ableist Version

I wish to apologize for yesterday’s ableist version of this post, which by  putting the source of the need for adjustment in the “unbalanced steering wheel”, suggested implicitly that there’s something wrong with being autistic. Although I must admit that I was aware of the problem even when I posted it yesterday, I’m frankly so enamored with the analogy, and believe it to be so useful that I thought it was worth posting anyway.

In any case, I hope you will agree that today’s version of this analogy actually does a much better job at what it’s supposed to do — illustrating some core and problematic issues with autism (it’s is only a “problem” because all of the roads are curved), while simultaneously pointing toward effective solutions (i.e. straight roads!) , and it does so without the implicit ableism.

However, I’m not going to take down yesterday’s post, because I think that a comparison of the two does a nice job of illustrating some core issues with ableism. I will, however, add a disclaimer to that post.

I sincerely beg your pardon for my confusion.

🙂

Autism Is Like When Your Car Has An Unbalanced Steering Wheel…

…whether it pulls a little or a lot to one side, you must always adjust for the pull, and nobody should be shocked if sooner or later you land in a ditch.

Disclaimer

Although I think the core analogy is sound and quite useful, this version of it, by putting the source of the need for adjustment in the “unbalanced steering wheel”, suggests implicitly that there’s something wrong with being autistic. The day after posting the above, I wrote a much better, non-ableist version of the analogy. I have decided not, however, do delete this version, because I think a comparison of the two does a nice job of explaining some core problems with ableism.

White Men Go To Jail Sometimes Too, Don’t They?

bank_robber_autism_made_me_do_it

Image Credit: Shutterstock

It’s been a week since I publicly confessed to stealing a laptop computer in protest of what’s actually the second time in the past year or so that a company has fired me illegally for being autistic. Here I wish to confess my astonishment at the fact that I haven’t been arrested yet.

Folks, what the hell is going on? I’m pretty sure this is a felony I’ve committed here — a cyber crime. Heck, it might even be an act of “lone wolf terrorism” for crying out loud! Isn’t somebody going to waterboard me?

Yes, yes, I’m a white man, of course, but still — surely at least some white people go to jail, don’t they? What about — what’s that one guy’s name? Who was that?…he was white, for sure. Dang…what was his name?

Hannibal_Lecter_in_Silence_of_the_Lambs

Anthony Hopkins as the fictional character Hannibal Lecter in the film Silence of the Lambs. Image Credit: MGM Pictures

Oh, right — Hannibal Lecter! There, see? Sometimes white people do go to jail. But of course that guy ate people. Must I actually eat someone in order to be held accountable for my actions? Would my victim also have to be white? Can I at least use a condiment — perhaps some honey mustard?

What if I just chewed for a while on some of the guy’s toenail clippings, would that count?

Just spittballin’ here…

Anyway, keep in mind please that the computer in question also happens to be loaded with all kinds of customer data that is protected by law — Social Security Numbers, etc. My newly ex-employer cannot just go around letting people access this data willy nilly. And yet, at this very moment I can both willy and nilly all I want with this data. I could go into it right now if I wanted to, look at the data, run my fingers over it, cover it in whipped cream. Sexy, sexy, data! Ooh, baby, yum!

sexy_mouth_strawberry_cream_315x210Heck, I could have your own birthday and Social Security Number on there, by which I mean you, yes you — the particular she or he reading these words right now, whoever you may be. My ex-employer’s database is enormous. Heck, I’m pretty sure Elvis is in there somewhere. I might have Elvis Presley’s Social Security Number on this damn laptop.  And if I have Elvis’s data, why not yours too? In principle at least I could use this data to steal your identity. I could go out and get a fake passport, birth certificate, credit cards etc. with your name on them and run around the country committing all manner of mischief in your name. Oh, the nasty numerologizing I could do to your Social Security Number — if I were so inclined (which I am not, lucky for you).

But that’s the least of it really, because this company’s database is so freaking huge — I mean we’re talking a sizable fraction of a billion customers are in this thing — that it just so happens to have the names, birthdays, and Social Security Numbers of all of the individuals who conspired to get me fired from MetLife last year, which is to say the first time in the past year or so that a company has illegally fired me for being autistic.

elvis_jailhous_rock_210x260

Another example of a white man who went to prison.

How’s that for irony? First these people fire me illegally, and then somehow I get lucky and find a job working with a database that is so huge that it actually contains their own protected data!

But for me, really the most deliciously ironic part of this irony is that I’m actually in possession of this data for for the very man who organized and led the charge on that event, which, by the way, was such a coercive ordeal for my family and me that I now feel entitled to refer to it all as a form of gang rape, even though nobody ever touched me physically, and indeed it all mostly happened via Email.

That’s right, I now have the Social Security Number (birthday, etc.) of Seyfarth Shaw Partner Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith (pictured, right) — a.k.a. “Batman“, a.k.a. a man who raped me (yeah, yeah, “so to speak”).

But it’s been a week since I confessed all of this, and I’m still walking around free. Shouldn’t I be in jail by now? Is White Privilege really that powerful?

 

Turn Me In To The FBI Today And Win This Attractive Bag Of Lawn Clippings!!!

Dear Reader,

Are you worried that I may have “crossed a line” by committing a felony in protest of the Trump Administration (not to mention everything else that a sane person might protest, especially the fact that since Trump became President I’ve been fired illegally twice for being autistic)?

Does it seem like I’ve gone “too damn far” by stealing a laptop loaded with protected customer information from the most recent company to fire me for having autism (a company which shall remain nameless, for now, and for reasons that are seeming less reasonable by the hour)?

Would you like to receive the attractive brown paper bag full of lawn clippings shown in the photo above as a Thank You gift?[1]

If so, then today’s your lucky day! Because with just a simple phone call to the FBI you can get that bag of lawn clippings as my Thank You gift simply for “dropping a dime on me” to the FBI regarding the above concerns in particular or in fact really any concerns at all you may have and which follow from my recent public confession that I have committed a felony cyber-crime just to protest, for example, the Trump Administration along with the fact that I’ve been fired illegally twice (for being autistic) since Trump became President, and in fact pretty much everything else that a sane person might protest these days, including but not limited to all the items discussed in yesterday’s open letter to President Trump’s acting Chair of the EEOC, Ms. Victoria A. Lipnic.

By the way, in case a bag of grass clippings isn’t already enough incentive, you should probably also recognize that the truly enormous size of my latest ex-employer’s customer database implies an excellent chance that I may in fact now be in possession of your own name, birthday, and Social Security Number.

Yikes!

So don’t delay. Address your concerns, whatever they are. Drop a dime on me to the FBI today!

Turn me in, please! Do it now, I’m begging you! Don’t over think it. Just follow this link to the FBI Contact Us webpage or do an Internet search on “report a crime to the FBI” and follow the easy instructions you will find.

And yes, I am being totally serious about everything except the bag of grass clippings. That part is really just a joke that I’m hoping will set you at ease long enough to get you to read this post. To be clear: I am not seriously offering anybody a bag of grass clippings as a Thank You for turning me into the FBI. But for the most part I’ve been posting on this topic with a straight face for several days now, and I really do not understand why I am not already in a jail cell.

I’m a friggin’ outlaw, for crying out loud! Somebody, please, do something!

I thank you sincerely in advance for you help,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”


[1] In case it isn’t perfectly obvious: I’m really just kidding about the bag of lawn clippings. But I am definitely not kidding about asking you to turn me into the FBI. That part is quite serious. It’s been several days since I publicly confessed to stealing the laptop in question along with the protected customer data it contains, and so far I’m still a free man. I find this weird and disturbing, to say the least. I thought for sure I’d at least get a knock on the door from the police, but so far nothing — which is to say nada, nichts, rien, nyet, etc.

Is this a race thing I’m witnessing? Am I being protected by my so-called “white privilege”? Seems like these days black people can get arrested for forgetting to cover their mouths when coughing. I’ve stolen a friggin lap top and so far nobody seems to care!