Yesterday afternoon the phone rang.
I don't like answering the phone - never really have. So I'm at a disadvantage instantly. The voice on the other end introduced herself - I've no idea what she said her name was. She said she was a mental health link worker with a triage team? and wanted to know if I felt comfortable going through an assessment questionnaire over the phone to see whether I should be passed on for referral for autism assessment.
What I should have said was no way.
But I'm not particularly assertive. Especially if you catch me unawares.
Before the questionnaire she asked some questions about my background and why I suspect I might be autistic, those were fairly straightforward to cover, although not in great detail as I wasn't prepared.
Then on to what she called the AQT. Ten questions, each to be answered as strongly agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree or strongly disagree.
1) You hear noises other people can't?
Seriously. This is an assessment question? Yes, as it happens I can. Was driven up the wall by the sonic mouse repeller we had, even though I'm half deaf. I could hear it ticking. Very irritating. Does this mean deaf people can't be autistic?
2 - You can tell what people are thinking from facial expressions.
No. Not particularly.
You find it easy to do more than one thing at once.
You see the big picture rather than the small details.
You find it easy to refocus on task once you've been interrupted.
You categorise or collect things.
You find it easy to tell the intentions of characters in books.
Eh what? I can tell what I think the intentions of characters in books are. But books aren't real people. Characters in books have to be slightly predictable or the book doesn't hold together. Real people aren't like that, they don't have to be internally consistent. You're going to base an autism assessment on fiction?
I can't remember all the questions. Usually I'd be good on something like this, recalling the details of a conversation. But I was very stressed during this - a pass/fail test effectively without warning, and I didn't know what the criteria were. (Oh, there's another question. Something about perfectionism.)
We got to the end, and she tallied it up and started umming and ahing. You're borderline for referral she said.
Seriously. You're going to assess an intelligent (highly intelligent actually, but let's not brag too much) woman over the phone with what feels like an internet questionnaire and tell me you can tell that she's not autistic enough to talk to a specialist.
I didn't react well to this idea. So not well that I will be being referred to the adult assessment team. I didn't know that we had an adult assessment team - google tells me it started taking referrals in October. This might explain why the first GP said I would have to be referred out of area for assessment.
So, another step taken. Is it just me though, or is this starting to feel like a comedy of errors?