Baby Steps to Diagnosis: Part 3

Following my intake interview, I had some homework to complete before the in-person testing. These were the four questionnaires I was assigned:

  • An online quiz made up of maybe 400 true/false statements. This was the most difficult, since so many of them were judgments or used vague wording or wording so absolute that I wasn’t comfortable answering either way. I think one of the statements was “I’m never happier than when I’m alone.” I don’t even know how to define “happy,” and I’m sure I’ve had more fun or laughed more or somehow felt fuller or better or something in the presence of another person…so I went with “false.” But I’m very content by myself, and part of me assumes that’s what the question was getting at.
  • SRS-2 (Social Responsiveness Scale). This was a two-page questionnaire with ranges of agreement: Is the statement not true, sometimes true, often true, or almost always true? There were two versions of this: one for me to fill out and one for someone close to me, as an outside observer. My doctor and I agreed my partner Tom should be my outside observer, as we’ve been together more than 20 years.

    This was far easier to complete, as it contained questions similar to those I’ve answered before, but there were still some weird ones. One that struck me as funny was worded very differently on mine and Tom’s–on mine, the question was whether I tended to be more suspicious than most people, and on Tom’s it asked if I was overly suspicious. Those are two very different things. I do tend to be more suspicious, since I (perhaps due to a lifetime of training) tend to puzzle people out and am slow to trust…which isn’t overly suspicious. It’s just as suspicious as I need to be.
  • And finally, a second printed one for Tom to fill out, the ABAS-3 (Adaptive Behavior Assessment System). This was four or five pages, covering a wide range of life skills, with a range of basically unable to do when needed or almost always able to do when needed. Areas covered included self-care, communication, leisure, work, and home living. I’m pretty able to do everything I need to on my own. Some skills I don’t have include making friends, dealing with repairs, and then one area that Tom and I disagreed on: self-care. One question was about getting haircuts. I’ve gotten my hair professionally cut twice since we’ve known each other–I do it myself because having it done is so traumatic (small talk, light touching, having to stare at yourself and knowing someone’s staring at you). And one about keeping my hair neat by brushing or combing daily…um, I don’t own a brush or comb. He argued that when I have to look nice I make it happen. Conveniently, the brand I’ve cultivated for myself is a little messy; my best look is something I like to call “5-year-old on X-mas morning.”

On top of these, when it was time for my in-person testing I also printed out my Aspie Quiz and my Samantha Craft list. I just figured the more data the better. I didn’t tell him about this blog–I don’t know why.

The in-person testing appointment was a 1.5-hour block, but my doctor said it shouldn’t take more than an hour. I declined the midpoint bathroom break and was out of there in about 45 minutes. The office was downtown, so Tom dropped me off to save me from having to worry about finding parking. (What a peach of a lad.)

Here’s a quick list of the tests and topics covered:

  • Make this design: I was shown a drawing of a design and given enough blocks to make the design.
  • Describe this common thing: As if to someone who’d never heard of the concept before, I had to explain “brushing your teeth.”
  • Tell me a story: Given a completely wordless children’s picture book, I had to describe the actions/narrative. This was so difficult for me. I’m really bad at imagination, so while I can name all the actual things I’m seeing, I can’t insert information I don’t have.
  • What does your typical week look like?
  • Do you have a lot of friends? We talked a little about the number and type of friends I have. And I made it clear that while I am bad at making friends and don’t have very many, I am not lonely. I don’t feel like I’m lacking.
  • Emotions: This was so hard! It started light, but it was clear that I was getting stuck on some of the emotion words, so we drilled in a little. My answer for what anger feels like: “A lot?”
  • Work: I described my job, how it challenges me and what I’m good at. Then we touched on conflict in the workplace, who I got along with, and finally, what people would like about me and what people could find aggravating about me.

I’m sure there was more, but those were the ones that stuck in my head.

When I was done, I popped in my earbuds and walked around downtown, making my way to the blue line to come home. Tom had said he’d come pick me up, but I just needed some space to walk it off before giving him the play-by-play. I’d taken the entire day off work, since I figured it would be exhausting, so why not take a decompression stroll?

So, the results were supposed to take about three weeks to put together. We just passed that, so I expect an email anytime now to schedule my final virtual appointment. He said he’d send me his report just a few minutes before the appointment, because otherwise I would 100% read it ahead of time and he really wants my first read to be with him.

I guess I’ll let you know how it goes!

Oh, and I’ll update when I get the bill for this, for those who are on the fence about diagnosis due to cost, but I received the Explanation of Benefits from my insurance company and of the $700 that was submitted for this portion of the process, they paid for or wrote off all but $20. So I expect to see a bill for $20–that’s on top of my $0 bill for the initial interview. I braced myself for so much worse but am very relieved, at least so far.

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