Her daughter was an Aspie, plain as day. I had never seen or met this girl, but to hear her mom (my patient) describe her, it was obvious to me (after all, it was late-May, and I was knee-deep in my own journey of Aspergian self-discovery. I had memorized all of the characteristics, and the obviousness was smacking me in the face). And it became even more so with each passing question.
“Did she have a tough time following directions, even though she wasn’t trying to be obstinate?”
“Oh yes! I had to show her how to do things.”
“Are there seemingly benign situations that she can’t seem to handle?”
“Yes! She gets overwhelmed when the whole family comes over for the holidays.”
And so on, for several more questions, until…
“Does she have collections?”
“Yes! Wait–how do you know??”
I sat back and smiled. I had a secret, never before disclosed to any of my clientele. And I was inwardly excited, jumping for joy, but I couldn’t say anything just yet.
First, I had to go in for the “kill”… “What do you know about Asperger Syndrome?”
She thought for a split-second, but not a nanosecond longer. “They’re supposed to be really smart, right?”
Bingo! That did it. “Many of us are, yes.”
Her eyes grew a little wider. It was subtle; if you weren’t looking closely, you wouldn’t have seen it.
I didn’t have to say any more, but I did.
“It’s a different way of being. It’s like you’ve always known you were different, but couldn’t put your finger on the reason why.”
And then, I came out with it: “Many of us get missed, because professionals are largely unaware. I only found out myself about two months ago.”
And I waited for the other shoe to drop. I imagined the worst. Surely this patient, a five-star patient I’d been seeing for over a year already, who, despite her excellent results, would suddenly perceive me as defective. The cat was out of the bag, so to speak, and it couldn’t be put back in. Disclosure is always such a sticky situation. I wondered if I had made a gigantic mistake, stepped on a live bomb?
I should’ve known better; I should’ve given her more credit than that. This lady is also extremely intelligent and compassionate. She didn’t judge me in any such way. (But, you never know.)
“Wow!!” she said. “That’s wonderful!”
I felt myself beaming. Relief! Success!
I info-dumped: “It was so liberating to find out. Suddenly, I realized that my modus operandi wasn’t the same as everyone else’s. Suddenly I could forgive myself for not complying with them. It was like waking up; the whole world changed.”
I’ll never forget what she said next… “It must have been so incredibly freeing!”
I grinned and replied, “you nailed it.”
And then I went on: “I share this with you in case it helps. I encourage you to research this topic if you wish. What you find will likely be amazing; just ignore the ‘official sources’; they’re not accurate anyway. There are a lot of positive aspects, probably more positive than there are negative. If it brings half the benefit for your daughter as it brought me…” I trailed off.
She finished my sentence. “…then this could ease a lot of her stress and actually, totally change her entire life!”
I grinned some more. Surprisingly, my face didn’t hurt; usually, it would have from all of this beaming and grinning.
Still beaming and grinning, I simply nodded slowly.
Although this was my first patient of a morning filled with several, my real work for the day was done.