Monday, April 23, 2007

More on Diagnoses

I was reading LiveJournal today, the Asperger's Syndrome community, and encountered the recurring topic: "I'm an Aspie, but my therapist denies it."

Okay, I'm not a therapist, but I'm about to play one online. (That's sarcasm.)

I believe most therapists, regardless of their educational backgrounds, are now quite familiar with the terms "Autism Spectrum Disorder" and "Asperger's Disorder / Syndrome." It takes a lot of hubris on the part of a patient to assume that he or she knows more about autism than a clinician. It takes even more hubris (or something else) to self-diagnose yourself with any mental health condition.

People wonder why I think autism is approaching the level of "trendy" once reserved for ADD/ADHD need only read any of the online communities for more than three weeks.

Yes, there are a lot of people with an ASD in these communities. There are also a lot of people looking for a mix of explanation and excuse for whatever social difficulties they experience. I fear there are a lot of people seeking an autism diagnosis when there is really a much more complicated problem present. If you want / seek a diagnosis of autism, I wonder if there aren't also more pressing issues to address?

Understand that I am resistant to the label, while recognizing I have "autistic" traits from a very real, physical trauma. I just think a lot of people are seeking the Asperger's label when they might be better served forgetting particular labels and dealing with their social challenges apart from being categorized.

Why not deal with the social issues and not keep asking for a label? What am I missing? Does the label suddenly solve problems? Or does it create yet more expectations of difficulty and oppression?

3 comments:

  1. I'm an originally self-diagnosed, later professional diagnosed person with an ASD. My official diagnoses last year was Asperger's Syndrome. I was, however, possibly diagnosed with something prior to that, there is a lot my parents don't tell me. I think maybe you've cleared up for me why I can't relate at all to some of these 'aspies'. That and I'm not a whiner. I'm not one of those 'I have AS so feel sorry for me' people, I guess I just wasn't cut out to be like that, my diagnoses has actually helped me. It helped me realize what it was that I was going through as a child, why people were so perplexed by what my family never told me was anything but 'normal', it helped me realize why things really bothered me that didn't seem to affect others, most importantly, the reading I have done taught me how to deal with this world better. It means I look unusual sure, but I really don't mind, I've found people who understand why I'm often wearing earplugs and why I wear sunglasses indoors and at night and why I don't look at them when I'm trying very hard to understand what they are saying.

    I'm not saying self-diagnoses is always a good thing by any means but it's helped me more than anything else in recent years.

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  2. “Yes, there are a lot of people with an ASD in these communities. There are also a lot of people looking for a mix of explanation and excuse for whatever social difficulties they experience. I fear there are a lot of people seeking an autism diagnosis when there is really a much more complicated problem present. If you want / seek a diagnosis of autism, I wonder if there aren't also more pressing issues to address?”

    - Absolutely! Some 'we, autistics' have very real problems (and do need help and support), but these problems are very different (e.g. NPD, BPD, etc.)
    From my experience, those with autism start with trying to understand themselves, while the ones with mis-diagnosis of autism start with criticizing everyone they encounter for not accommodating their 'differences'. Strangely enough, they deny any problems that are common in autism (e.g., sensory processing difficulties) and insist on their superiority. And they are right – they have no sensory problems (and they have no autism, either.) The reason they actively seek this particular diagnosis? – Do you see queues to be diagnosed with NPD or any other personality disorder?

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  3. It is my hope that individuals with complex mental health needs seek assistance for their "complete selves." I have met several AS students with depression and other co-morbid conditions. Depression strikes me as particularly important and necessary to address, having been touched by the worst of possible outcomes to severe depression.

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