I have been wanting to make this post since before I started this blog. I kept thinking that I should do it properly and gather information ahead of time and all that, so I’ve not done it yet. However, said information gathering would actually be kind of unpleasant, so I haven’t done it. I’ve finally decided “screw it,” I’m doing this post anyway, properly researched or not. So, here is my minimally-thought-through, mostly-off-the-cuff post about what not to do.
So. Do you know someone (once again, I am focusing on adults, as I know more about that) who is planning on getting an assessment to see if they have AS? Perhaps a friend or a family member has told you that they are looking into it. Well, there are good reactions to this and bad reactions to this. Here are a few things you should definitely not do.
1. If you do not know very much about AS or ASD when they tell you about their choice, do not proceed to spend one day mildly looking into it and then presume you know more about this than they do. In fact, you really should assume the opposite, especially if they inform you that they have been pondering this action for years.
2. Do not proceed to attempt to diagnose them yourself, with what you think is REALLY wrong. You are not a medical professional. Even if you are, that does not mean that you are a specialist in ASD. Even if you are that, it’s possible that you are too close to them to see things objectively.
3. Perhaps they offered to talk to you about it more or answer questions you may have. If you choose to take them up on this, do so with kindness and understanding. Definitely do not proceed to interrogate them, make them defend or justify their choice, or try to talk them out of it. If you absolutely must ask them what the importance of a diagnosis is (which really, should not be a question that needs asking) accept the answer they give you. Do not proceed to ask this question over and over and over again, while ignoring the answer they have probably given you several times over.
4. Do not belittle or talk down about their choice. Getting a diagnosis is time consuming, expensive, and stressful. Be assured that they are not doing this on a whim.
5. Related to a few of the above – do not assume that they have not thought this through. It is not an easy thing to get a diagnosis as an adult. Even if they started looking into it on a whim (which is very unlikely), the obstacles they faced in actually getting to the point of being able to go do it would have forced them to think it through more deeply. If you absolutely must ask “Have you thought this through?’ then fine, but accept their answer. We are talking about adults here.
6. If they are seeking some financial support from you, just decide yes or no and tell them that. You always have the right to refuse. Whether or not you think it’s a good idea can depend on any number of factors, from how much money you may or may not have to spare, to their ongoing habits regarding asking for money, or not asking for money. Absolutely, positively DO NOT compare their request to you asking for funding for a project at work. This should not even require further elaboration.
All that said, there are some things that are good to do. If you don’t know much about AS, go ahead and just admit that. Saying “I don’t know if you do or don’t, but I support your choice to look into it” is an absolutely fabulous thing to say. Requesting resources to learn more about ASD is a perfectly fine thing to ask for. Expressing curiosity as to why they think they have AS is probably also ok, provided you do not do it in a manner that is accusatory or demeaning. Overall, offer your support. Being neurologically different is hard enough as it is. Don’t add to that if you can help it.