Aspergers Shoebox Exam
This morning I was sitting in a room. The room was abnormally small for something I might actual label as a room. By small I mean miniscule. I work in a 6’x9′ cubicle. This room was smaller than that. The contents of this room were: a bookshelf with two books and a magazine, an empty trashcan, two standard office desk chairs, one folding chair (folded, leaning against the wall) and a desk with two laptops on it.
Also in the room were two people and I, as I mentioned, was one of them. The other was Eddy (not his real name). I don’t know what Eddy’s actual job title is or if he has any professional certifications. I was there to talk to a psychiatrist regarding a recent diagnosis. It seems I have Aspergers Syndrome. I don’t really know what that means except I have a tendency to be socially inept. Some people theorize it may be a side effect of my being so damned intelligent. Anyway, while I wasn’t sure what Eddy’s profession was, I am pretty sure he wasn’t the office computer geek.
Before I could talk to the Psychiatrist, I had to sit through yet another screening given by Eddy. The desk in the room was flat against one wall. Eddy sat at the desk. I sat behind and to the right of Eddy. The seating situation was mandated by the layout of the milk crate they called a room. I’m just glad I wasn’t there to be treated for claustrophobia, or it would have been precisely the wrong room for it. Eddy was nice enough. However, even as socially inept as I am, I am pretty sure that making eye contact each time you ask a question is basic politeness. If you asked Eddy what color my shirt was, he probably would have to guess. I was wearing black shirt, black pants and a black jacket since it’s Monday and everyone should wear black on Mondays. I kept thinking, here I am trying to learn basic human interaction and they stick me in a shoebox with a guy who can’t interact humanly.
Not that I think Eddy is incapable of polite human interaction. He just seemed incapable of typing my answers without looking at the keys. This is the 21st century, people. If you can’t touch type, you’re probably worse off than anyone with Aspergers. I mean, these days ninety percent of our interactions with other people are via a keyboard, right? Slow typers are doomed to posting their witty Facebook comments seconds after someone who could type faster posted something slightly less witty, but still the faster typer got there first and now the slow typer’s comments seem like someone hopping on the bandwagon. It was painful watching Eddy trying to see the keys through his fingers. He would hold his hands in almost the right positions, but perpendicular to the keyboard so he could see the keys between his hands, type a character or two then check the screen.
I was probably asked twenty questions over the course of the hour I was in the matchbox. I spent a significant amount of time staring out the window watching a piece of cellophane stuck in the grass of the field across the street. It was shiny. The break down was probably: Talking 2 mins 45 seconds, Shiny 50 minutes. Watching the little yellow light blink on Eddy’s laptop, 2.5 minutes. I was quick to analyze the blinking yellow light and surmised that the power cord was not plugged in and that the little yellow light was trying as hard as it could to warn Eddy that it was running out of power. I couldn’t see the outlet behind the desk to confirm my suspicions. I thought about warning Eddy, but I quashed that idea. Eddy wouldn’t be so oblivious to the state of his own computer, would he?
The answer is yes.
50 minutes into the screening, and 20 of 21 questions answered, the laptop went black. At this point I decided to share my wisdom with Eddy. Sure enough, the computer was not plugged in. Why yes, I have worked at a computer help desk, why do you ask?
We were about to restart the questionnaire when I was saved and sent to see the person who would prescribe a treatment plan. It seems the questionnaire was redundant with the other tests they’d already administered to me.
From what I can tell, there is no drug to fix Aspergers. It is what it is. It seems I have to learn communication the hard way. No I don’t know what that means yet.