Unpost 10: decimal

Ooh, the ratio! No, I’m not talking about the reply/retweet ratio considered indicative of bad takes on Twitter. Just that this is yet another ‘unpost’, pushing up the ratio of rambling to (I’d like to think) moderately focused posts here on my blog. Alternatively, pushing down the signal/noise ratio. Having typed this first paragraph (well, almost: wait for the next full stop!), I’m not going to let that put me off.

I’ve written one or two of these unposts in the university chaplaincy centre and would have done the same today, except that when I tried to take my coffee in there I found that it was closed except for special events and appointments, the undergraduate population having migrated for the summer. Disappointment number 3.

As I was coming out of the university library earlier, I got a message from someone saying that unfortunately she wouldn’t be able to make it to the cinema tonight after all. (We had been going to see the Icelandic film Woman at war, and I might still go, either on my own or with my son.) Disappointment number 2.

This is an unpost, so that countdown of disappointments looks disturbingly planned and organised, doesn’t it! Don’t worry. I won’t let you down. There isn’t really a disappointment number 1, or if there was, I’ve forgotten about it since I began writing. If anything, the next thing is just a frustration rather than a disappointment.

The reason I was in the library was nothing to do with the large collection of books and journals housed there (which I would miss having access to if I were to put my PhD to one side). But by a quirk of building space allocation, the student disability service, and the counselling service which I used three years ago, happen to be on the third floor of the library.

Yesterday I visited the disability service for an autism screening interview. (I’d only discovered recently that this was an option.) There was a bit of general discussion and note-taking, and then I was taken through two diagnostic questionnaires, AQ and EQ. On the basis of these, I am eligible for referral to a psychologist, the scores for both being well within the autistic range (though they aren’t sufficient on their own for a diagnosis).

I was told it would be useful to have the information elicited by the third questionnaire too, the RQ. This had to be completed by a relative who could say what I was like in early childhood. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do that, but managed to get my mum to answer the 40 questions via FaceTime last night. (Aside: if I’m autistic, it wouldn’t surprise me if my mum is too.) I was back in the library today to drop that off with them.

What I forgot to find out yesterday was how long it would take to be referred to the psychologist. I asked the receptionist today, but she couldn’t say anything more than ‘soon’ (and did say something about the psychologist being around ‘over the summer’, which doesn’t feel very soon). Frustrating.

I also asked about ADHD screening. When I made the appointment, I was told that the disability service couldn’t do this, but at my appointment I was told they could. However, they need to do one thing at a time, which sort of makes sense, but it’s not so great when it’s hard for me to disentangle the overlapping executive dysfunction symptoms associated with the two labels. It would be incredibly handy to have a diagnosis (especially for the treatable aspects of ADHD) before potentially returning to my PhD, but that looks unlikely. Frustrating.

Frustration and disappointment at having uncertainty or last-minute changes to my plans can certainly throw me. Also, I couldn’t get past that sentence onto this one for a while because I was distracted by the Philip Glass guitar music in my headphones, which was mainly there to help mask the background noise that isn’t quite eliminated by the noise-cancelling function. Back to listening to ‘nothing’ for now, then.

These headphones have been quite revelatory actually. (Oh, and I did remember to talk about all my sensory issues in my appointment, whereas last time, caught off-guard, I could only think of dense objects. Dense objects! What about loud noises, overlapping conversations, strong smells, unpleasant food textures?) Yes, the headphones have revealed just how draining my aural environment has been for me. Taking them off, or not bothering to take them with me when going out, I’ve been assailed by a barrage of sound. Putting them on after a meeting, I’ve been stunned by the blissful relief of relative quiet.

I do wonder whether using sunglasses would lead to a similar re-evaluation of visual stimuli. Worth a try some time, maybe? But I’d need to get some up-to-date prescription sunglasses, which I can’t really afford right now. In any case, I suspect bright lights and intense colours aren’t an issue for me at all.

Time now to get something to eat. Decision time. And then off to the cinema (with my son, it turns out).

6 responses to “Unpost 10: decimal”

  1. Your posts are always interesting – ‘un-‘ or not! Hope you enjoyed the film and good luck with everything.

    1. Thanks, Kathrin! And I loved the film. I’d definitely recommend it.

  2. I’ve definitely had that experience with sunglasses (which I wear A LOT!). I’m actually shocked to think about how overwhelming the visual environment is for me, and how many years I was ‘coping’ with it whilst being completely unaware of how differently I was experiencing it to those around me.

    Also the same on the auditory front.

    It’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve realised how extreme some of my sensory difficulties actually are. Vastly more pronounced hypersensitivity – especially to sound and visuals – than many other autistics I know. It also makes it hugely difficult for me to mask, or to keep my autism undisclosed – now I’m aware of my sensory needs, I’d really struggle not to acknowledge them and openly deal with them. I wouldn’t cope in a work environment without this stuff being explicitly addressed.

    I do also wonder whether ADHD compounds the impact. A lot of non-autistic ADHDers themselves have sensory processing issues.

    1. I also find it frustrating that my noise-cancelling headphones don’t actually completely cancel out the noise. 🤷🏻‍♀️

      1. But I still find them bloody useful just to dampen it down at least!

      2. I agree, though they’re definitely better than nothing. High frequencies in particular aren’t really affected – by design, I presume – though of course they’re reduced slightly simply by the headphones covering my ears. Pro: it’s lovely that I can still hear birdsong when I’m wearing them. Con: sirens on emergency vehicles are just as painful as ever. As I’ve got used to wearing the headphones, I’ve found they seem to cut out less sound than I originally thought.