It was suggested last year that I get counselling for autism. It was couched in language that it would be good for me, make it easier and so on.
What was meant, of course, was that it would make it easier for everyone else if I learned to pass better. My autism was annoying other people. I was being bullied (again), and autism was making it hard to cope. So the answer was not to deal with the bullying, but to put the onus on me to fix myself.
Because until I can pass, I’ll get bullied, indeed, I can expect to get bullied, because I haven’t had enough counselling on how to act normal.
Anyway, at the time I bought into all this (as you do). I was given the lowest mark for ‘responding to criticism’ on my assessment – which gained me a warning that I was about to fail the term despite all my other marks being fine – but I guess being repeatedly dragged into a side room and hammered about all my failings for twenty minutes is a situation from which I should emerge smiling and with Christ-like determination to do better.
Not shaking and in total meltdown, in a way I hadn’t experienced for over a decade. That was an ‘inability to cope with criticism’. I suppose if you whipped a neurotypical until they sobbed that would be an ‘inability to cope with whipping’. One thing was made clear to me every time these little office-fests happened – I wasn’t going to be allowed out of the room until I cracked.
There was a new therapist arriving in town, specialising in autism. Hooray and handstands!
It took three weeks to gather up the courage to call. I’m notoriously bad with phones (a post for another time), but eventually I managed it. A businesslike receptionist answered. I explained that I was an adult with autism and I was looking specifically for someone who didn’t just see children. I explained that I had both work and personal issues. She seemed to listen to it all, and then said she’d just take some details.
‘So, what’s the child’s name?’
‘I’m not a child.’
‘No, the child.’
“The counselling is for me. I’m an adult. Forty-two years old, actually.’
A pause, then she took my name and phone number. Two weeks later there was a message on my answering machine asking me to call.