About a month ago, I received a phone call that I had been waiting for, for over 2 years. It was concerning my autism assessment. Needless to say, I immediately phoned back and set up the appointment.My assessment happened over 3 days.
This journey for myself began when a professor of mine and I had a one-on-one conversation while I was tackling my Behavioral Sciences degree. She asked me gently if I had ever considered that I may be autistic, and then sent me links to learn about it. One of those links was to Samantha Craft’s blog, Everyday Aspergers.
On the 1st day, I took the bus to the building in the morning. My appointment was for 9 am. As I got closer to the building, my visual mind went into overdrive and I began analyzing, observing, taking a snapshot with my mind’s ‘eye’…
INITIAL BUILDING OBSERVATIONS
- Modern/modernist architecture, style
- 16 floors
- Elevators (3 of them)
- Flat roof
- “Form follows function”
- Focus on the space itself; open plan
- Metal and glass frameworks
- Rectangular shapes prominent
- Strong linear elements in this building; lines straight and angled, NOT curved
While walking into the lobby of this building, I see a tall, heavy-set security fellow with black hair and a snake tattoo on his neck sitting at a desk. As people are required to log in and out of this building for security reasons, I approach him. As I approach him, I get a super STRONG whiff of his cologne, which nearly makes me GAG. This cologne smells STRONGLY of LAVENDAR, mixed with notes of SPEARMINT, SAGE, and slight touches of WOOD and AMBER. It is so strong to me, that I can literally TASTE it. Ugh.
All right, to the elevator I go, as I need to get to the 11th floor…
WAITING ROOM OBSERVATIONS
- 10 chairs for folks to sit in while they are waiting; chairs are arranged in a half-circle formation
- There are end tables with various types of magazines such as Canadian Living, Taste of Home, Chatelaine, Maclean’s, Canadian Geographic
- An upright rack filled with pamphlets for different health issues
- Directly across from these chairs is a long rectangular-shaped desk, behind are situated 4 female receptionists/office staff
- Walls are painted in a soft green color
I am 15 minutes early for my appointment. I am getting strange looks because I am wearing my earplugs and earphones over my head. My prescription glasses are specially made to stay dark at all times–inside or outside. Someone touches me without warning, asking me if I am all right and whether I am ‘hung-over.’
In this waiting room, kids are SCREAMING, lights are BRIGHT and BUZZING, there is lots of NOISY conversation going on around me, and to add to it, there is this smell of ORANGE-SCENTED cleaning disinfectant.
After what seems to be forever, my name gets called…
- Bright fluorescent lights (rod shaped) BUZZING and HUMMING the whole time – at times, so loud that I could not hear the clinical psychologist speaking without my earplugs
- See a really BRIGHT red couch for clients to sit on – so comfortable too!
- Floors reek of cleaning disinfectant – ORANGE, JASMINE scent
- Three library shelves full of books, directly across from the couch (which is where I was sitting)
- Walls painted in an ugly pea-soup green color
I sit down and wait for the female clinical psychologist. She walks in. She asks me to take off my earphones and take out my earplugs. Within a few seconds, I notice the following:
- Black dress pants – look like the Pennington’s brand, size around 1x
- Printed blouse – wave pattern, elbow sleeve, V-neck; colors: black, green, turquoise, yellow
- Two mismatched socks – one is black, the other brown
- Dress shoes – looked like a Naturalizer brand, Jaye perhaps?; color: black
- Necklace – long chain with the letter ‘V’
As she gets closer and introduces herself by offering her hand, I am OVERWHELMED by perfume…it has tones of CEDAR, JASMINE, LEMON, and ORANGE. Her hand has scents of CUCUMBER and MELON. My guess: she’s using CUCUMBER-MELON scented hand lotion.
Uh oh, it gets worse!!! This lady’s zipper fly is UNDONE!
I remember thinking…“Should I tell her? Should I keep quiet? Or should I tell her in an indirect way, “Hey LADY, you are FLYING LOW!”
After careful deliberation, I believe it is important to tell this female clinical psychologist the truth, and SOOOO…I tell her that her zipper is DOWN! To my surprise, she LAUGHS, then takes care of her zipper.
The two of us have an interview. She is quite impressed with the comprehensive folder of information prepared for her ahead of time. I am asked various questions…some relating to my childhood, adolescent years up to the present; school up to the present (as I am in university) – what do I find easy in school? what do I find a challenge?; life now, etc. By this time, the assault on my senses is becoming too much, and I notice that I am starting to lose my speech. Observant person that she is – she allows me to take a break.
After the interview, it is time for me to do the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – 3rd Edition (WAIS-III). Because stimuli was assaulting my senses, I drove the female psychologist crazy by asking her to repeat questions continually, preferably in between the phones ringing in the waiting room. Any instructions/directions given to me in an auditory fashion is the worst for me – I usually retain little, if any, of it.
I am given a test called the Draw-a-Bicycle Test. Basically, the purpose is to draw a bicycle in freehand using a pencil. It can be a useful measure of visual–spatial and visual–motor impairments. Usually, the client is asked to draw a copy of a simple line drawn picture of a bicycle. Many clinicians first ask the client to draw a bicycle in freehand from their own memory, to assess their constructional ability in the absence of a model.
I have an appointment at 9 am again and feel DRAINED. Everything is bothering me, and seems AMPLIFIED–the lights, the noise of others’ conversations, the phones ringing off the hook…
On this day, I am given a test called the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement – Revised, select texts. It is designed to measure general intellectual ability, as well as academic achievement, scholastic aptitude, cognitive abilities and oral language. The series includes two separate batteries: the WJ-III Tests of Achievement and the WJ-III Tests of Cognitive Abilities. The WJ-III tests are used for many reasons, including planning educational and individual programs, diagnosing learning disabilities, research and growth assessment. From a clinician’s perspective, this test is useful in the identification and documentation of discrepancies between one’s ability and achievement level.
The female clinical psychologist is wearing black capris (size 1x), 3/4 sleeve white blouse with a v-neck, her necklace with letter ‘V’ around her neck, the same perfume as Day 1, and Birkenstock sandals. I observe that her ears are slightly turning red, keeps tapping her fingers on her knees, and she keeps biting her lip.
I remember thinking: “If only she would STOP wearing that BL**DY perfume!”
When I arrive home, I head straight for my living room and curl up in my blankets in complete darkness…my speech totally gone and wearing a blank facial expression.
It is the last day of testing. Yahoo!!!
The female clinical psychologist is wearing a blue dress (1x in size), celtic cross necklace and Birkenstock sandals. OMGosh…she has NO perfume on!
This day consists of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2). The MMPI-2 has 567 true/false questions, and takes me about 3 hours to finish. The MMPI-2 is designed with 10 clinical scales which assess 10 major categories of abnormal human behavior, and four validity scales, which assess the person’s general test-taking attitude and whether they answered the items on the test in a truthful and accurate manner. A link to learn more about this test is found at Psych Central.
Results: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Level 1 (Requiring Support); Dyslexia; Social Anxiety