I see a lot of talk online about how autism diagnosis ‘changed someone’s life’ and I’m at least sceptical. My own diagnosis didn’t bring me happiness – instead it caused many problems that I didn’t have before. In the current state of support for adult autistics I’d say self diagnosis is probably better as it doesn’t give you false hopes.
Realising I’m autistic gave me a lot of understanding that I wouldn’t have otherwise, however it totally messed up one thing that I was really good at: dealing with people who have hidden agendas.
It is said that we, autistics, can’t see hidden agendas. And the way how this is being said makes me think every time that this is something we need to work on, that understanding those agendas will somehow improve our lives.
However, I was able to deal with those people without even knowing they have hidden agenda. How? I just avoided those who I didn’t understand. I asked clarifying question and if I still didn’t understand what was going on, I asked another one, just in case. If the person still didn’t make sense, I’d be like ‘go away’. Obviously I didn’t say that, I just avoided them at all costs. I had absolutely no idea that they had hidden agenda and that’s why I wasn’t able to communicate with them, I just thought they’re weirdos. That was enough for me to protect myself from a lot of drama.
I remember this one, quite funny situation: I was still back in Reading and working temporarily in a different care home to my usual one. One of the residents, I was told, had a sister who wasn’t very nice, although no one wanted to disclose any details. One Sunday she called, around 10am when her brother was getting supported to get ready to church, which was his usual Sunday activity. The sister asked me what he is doing and I said, he’s getting ready to go to church.
‘But we’re coming!’ she said in a demanding voice. I didn’t know what that was about so just in case I said ‘ok’. I was thinking that possibly she wants to talk to staff while her brother is not around.
Later on I was told to do something out of the house so I never met that sister, but when I came back deputy manager asked me about the details of that phone conversation. It turned out that when the sister came in she was upset that her brother wasn’t in!
Only then I understood what happened: when I thought that the sister was being demanding while saying ‘But we’re coming!’ she was expecting me to cancel her brother’s church! And I didn’t get it. But how inconsiderate of her that was?!
I thought at first that I’d get told of by deputy but that didn’t happen. It took me a while to realise that she was probably quietly relieved that the sister finally got what she deserved.
I’ve been thinking for quite a while that I need to go back to that approach, it was really working well for me, much better than trying to work out what that hidden agenda can be. I’m not sure I’d be able to do it in so pure, innocent, naive way I used to before realising I’m autistic. I guess I may never be able to forget the concept of hidden agendas. But I can possibly choose the same behaviour I was using to deal with similar situations. I tried that yesterday.
I had a marketing phone call from Glasgow and a lady, who somehow knew my name, asked about my age brackets. I asked what is the purpose of that call and she told me that the purpose of the call is to ask me some questions and she prompted me again about my age brackets.
I thought, that’s the most ridiculous marketing call that I ever had. Do I need to find out about the agenda behind it? No, I don’t. So I hung up.
Sometimes that really is the best approach. If you don’t understand somebody, stop communicating with them.