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Version Twelve

There's a little bit of misdirection here, I know. For one thing, the filename for this file ends with "01", not "00", but that's because I'm a mathematician, not a computer scientist, and I start counting with 1, not 0. The rest of it, well, … let's just say I wanted to not be sending people links with that filename. It was easier to mask it a little, I guess, by creating this directory.

Some of you probably think I should be overhauling the entire code base here, and you're not wrong, but in what will probably become a recurring theme, I don't care enough.

Did you know that you can press F5 in Notepad (I'm on a Windows box, Windows 11 but this is an old functionality) and it will insert a timestamp? Watch: 16:37 25-Apr-22. That's something I'll probably keep doing a lot in this directory, as I try to write things out. I am fairly confident right now that as time goes on, I'm going to learn and understand things differently (which is something I am generally bad at), so the timestamping is going to help me.

So, you were saying, about that filename?

As I write this, my diagnosis isn't official, in the sense that my clinician hasn't signed her report yet1, but yes, the whole point of all this is that I have autism. If you're reading this, that's the first thing I want you to know – and the second thing I want you to know, which is incomprehensibly important to me, is that nothing has actually changed. I'm the same person, with the same brain function, as I was last week, or last year, or 40 years ago. If you have ever met me, you met an autistic version of me, because there are no other versions.

I imagine that there are some people who will read this who will not understand that last part, who may even want to argue with me. (Don't. It won't go well for either of us.) The two things I will try to say to that are (1) the science of mental health has advanced a lot in the last 40 years, and (2) getting to where I am now, with this recognition, was not a trivial process, even for the clinician (who is herself autistic) whose job it is to figure this stuff out. Okay, one more thing: (3) if you had asked me seven months ago if I was neurotypical, I would have said "yes". I know that's true, because someone did. So I don't want anyone, including myself, to feel bad about not knowing or not recognizing this. That's not always going to be the case, meaning I won't always get what I want, and some more of that is going to come out.

What Does This Mean? How Did You Get Here? Eight Billion Other Questions!

I am, for the moment, going to skip over the "What Does This Mean" question, because I don't know. Going into this process, … okay, so I have a friend, or at least a former colleague, for whom mental health issues, in her words, "run through her family like water". She has said that it's unlikely that she's neurotypical (my words there), but she's also said that if she were to undergo some kind of evaluative or diagnostic process, she knows too much about what the process is looking for that she would be able to bias it for whatever outcome she wanted. [An aside: having gone through the process I have gone through, she is absolutely right; there were times, especially later on, when I would look at a question in some diagnostic inventory and think, "Oh, this is checking for _____." I did not like it when that happened.] So for me, I was very cognizant of avoiding that, and I did not research what I was getting into for fear of biasing the results. It is entirely possible that you know more about autism, dear reader, than I do right now. And that, for the moment, is okay.

I will give you this external link that I got from my clinician (it's another clinician's page) that can be a gateway to understanding what this means. I hedge that not only because I have not read most of it (though that is also true as of 17:01 25-Apr-22) but because this is, as the very first item at that link indicates, a dynamic condition: not only is it not one-size-fits-all for an individual, it's not even one-size-fits-all for the same individual in all circumstances and sitautions.

While it is targeted at me the autistic as opposed to at you the reader, my clinician sent me a list of links when she sent me her report in June. Some of that is probably also useful, though it's a good bet I haven't looked at it yet.

There are also, of course, books on the subject, which, if and when I read them, I will try to discuss.

An aside at this point (that I may have already mentioned) about outside resources: there is a lot of anger out there. There are things that may seem perfectly fine to some people that are very much not fine to others. (See "not one-size-fits-all", above.) There are also some things that are obvious to some people (possibly including me), that I don't feel the need to be militant about, which others do feel the need to be militant about, for they have had different (I would argue more negative) experiences. So please don't read anything I say or opinions I may have as being applicable automatically to anyone else, because they may and may not (possibly both at the same time).

If you are thinking right now, "Wait; you can't be autistic, becasue autistic people _____!" Please don't. Don't do that. This is not the time to be arguing with me. Also, it's possible I've thought about that, here. (Also)², please read the footnote about the specificity of my diagnosis.

As for the "How Did I Get Here", well, that should probably be what I talk about next.

I had a link for this on the page above, but I'm putting a separate one here (mostly for one person, should she decide to visit). I had an early educational experience whose effects (positive and negative) were probably more pronounced in me as a student with autism, and I wanted to talk about that a bit. (Editor's note: I do not know how many students in my class or in other classes may have had autism, but for my class, it's at least two. Given that my Fourth Group class had 25 students, we each represent 4% of the class, so even two of us – 8% – is significant.)

Another side of "How Did I Get Here" is "Who Knew", which if you read the last link should make sense. I want to talk about that more here.

I know there are Eight Billion Other Questions. I probably have seven billion of them myself. This kind of goes along with the last bit, but I do want to try to address some questions, here.

I'll add to this at the journey goes on – and this is a journey for me.

Because it might be helpful, here's a changelog for this directory.

1My clinician's report was signed on 10 June 2022. My offical diagnosis is "Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 1, without intellectual disability, without language delay, requiring support". The "Level 1" part needs a little explanation, because autism isn't something that has severity. What does have severity is how autism affects functionality, and "Level 1" basically means I don't have a lot of the functionality-impeding manifestations that some people with autism do. It doesn't make me in any way "less autistic" than someone else with autism who has more functioning difficulties in a neurotypical world.