As I mentioned in my previous post, I was recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Because of this diagnosis, I now am transitioning myself to be a "differently able" person. Like a good OT patient is supposed to do, I try to get myself acquainted with the new community that I now belong. So, I joined a local Meetup group with folks who also have Asperger's Syndrome and joined several fan pages related to Asperger's on Facebook. Today is actually my first chance to meet some fellow aspies, or the name of how people who have Asperger's like to call themselves.
I came to the meeting a little late. However, because the meeting was very informal (it was held at a diner-like place), it was no big deal. So, I introduced myself to everyone, 6 people in all. A few minutes in, I felt like I was meeting a bunch of geeks. After all, the list conversation topics included practicality of some of the spaceship designs in reality, extremely trivial facts about presidents from how they got elected to what they do for fun. (Of course, I think the fact that I have been hanging out with non-aspies- whether in school or with my church leader friends had a lot to do with this weird feeling.)
Then, I stepped back for a second as I did a little self-reflection, "You are the same way in some things, too... except in things that are more socially acceptable such as sports data (baseball, basketball, and football to some extent) and no limit hold'em tournament strategies (which top poker players will probably do the same thing, too). But because these two categories are more socially acceptable (the earlier because of fantasy sports and the latter because of the poker boom), you are not perceived to be weird. Anyhow, you are basically seeing reflections of yourself from different perspectives and how others might perceive them."
That meeting lasted an hour or so. As I returned home, I thought about numerous things. Rather than writing some paragraphs, I am going to list them in bullet points.
1. I think this experience will really help me understand the Asperger's population in an OT perspective. I think this will enhance my therapeutic use of self, though the experience doesn't really have therapy value for my personal self. I got to understand some aspects of their behaviors and social cues.
2. I managed to correct my thoughts. This is so important for me to do as a future OT because catching myself making bad assumptions before I react will reduce the chances of making bad rapports with future clients and/or their families.
3. There is no one-size-fit-all intervention. It just depends on the individual's preferences and what he/she wants to get out of the intervention. For me (maybe because I have been studying OT for a while now), I wanted to know more about the lived experiences of these people so that I can understand what they are going through with discussion of ways to help one another. While I will still try to support the people I met from the Meetup group through their journeys as aspies, I think there is more therapeutic value for me to listen/read people's stories and try to use my OT knowledge to assist individuals and families who are dealing with the diagnosis while hearing people's opinion about what I have to say. Not only I got to apply my knowledge from what I study, but also enrich myself at the same time.
4. I still got a lot to learn about the disability culture. Sure, it's great that I still am my happy-go-lucky self. But, I must be understanding and more respectful. I feel that the more experience I read about fellow aspies, the more I could understand what they are going through. That way, I will be a good future therapist when it comes to assist patients with chronic physical/psychosocial disabilities.
That's all folks.