HOW ALLIED HEALTH NEEDS TO GET IT.
Last Thursday, I had an infusion for my CIDP and mentioned to the nurse that most of my specialists would now be in Brisbane and I would only be going to see one specialist on the Sunshine Coast. She said to me, "Buderim? That's a fair drive." "Yes, but Shigemi likes the drive." "Shigemi? Who's Shigemi?" "My car." I know some neuro-typical people love their cars, and some even give them names (Australian aviator Charles (later Sir Charles) Kingsford-Smith referred to his plane, Southern Cross as the "Old Bus") but not all neuro-typical folks become quite as attached. I had one car for twenty years and I say to people, "You won't buy a secondhand car from me," because I believe that you get a car, you keep it well-serviced, and drive it until it's too old and then you get another. I'm the same with clothes, I buy them, I wash them, I keep them until they might look out of date when my father had them as a teenager or until they fall to pieces, then I get some new ones. I do, however, wash my clothes between wearing them, I don't wear the same set of clothes everyday until they fall to pieces, as they'd stink.
To some neuro-typical people, a car is just metal, plastic and glass, or a house is just bricks and mortar, but to an autistic, a car can be, in my case, an extra-articular manifestation of an interest in the country of origin, it may be a project (some people buy old models of cars and restore them or have them as hobby cars) and for others, they may be a safety blanket. While I don't mind driving my father's Ford Falcon, I would only be happy with a Ford Falcon as my own car if it had (this would set Henry Ford the Second's blood pressure soaring) KYB Shock Absorbers and NGK Spark Plugs in it and Japanese wheels and tyres.
To many neuro-typical folks, unusual attachments to certain objects may reflect immaturity, but I say, it's no different to someone working for a company that gives them a choice of two makes of company car and they choose a particular one every time.
I remembered reading an article about a kid being late for school because of a sock bump, and I say, in many ways, inflexibility of school uniforms can be a negative for autistic kids. Yes, schools have to have standards, but some allowances can be made. For me, wanting to have a minimum of two Chinese made garments everyday is not too difficult, because I know the country of origin of my clothes and set it out so I have say, a Bangladeshi made shirt and shorts or jeans, Chinese underpants and socks, and a Chinese jacket or jumper, or Cambodian socks and underpants, Chinese jeans and a Bangladeshi shirt and a Chinese jacket. Quirky, I know, but it doesn't hold anybody up. Allowances could have easily been made at school by saying, "Okay, your uniform is Australian made, but you can wear Chinese underpants and Chinese shoes," thereby providing my safety blankets, and, of course, my Japanese watch.
One instance where I was effusive with praise for another nurse was she assigned me a red chair in April. I said to her, you may not realise, but that made me so happy because today I am wearing a yellow shirt for Light It Up Gold, and did not want a blue chair, because Autism Speaks wants to wipe us out. The same nurse who wondered who Shigemi was, said, "But you're just a normal patient to us." Well, normal isn't exactly a compliment. Had she said, "Okay, you're a bit quirky but we don't have a problem accommodating your quirkiness," I'd say fine. Nevertheless, the nurses know not to give me a blue chair in April or on June 18.
Another quirk I have, which is political as well as autistic, is that I prefer they put the drip in my right arm as I say that I'm right-handed but left-wing, so I prefer to keep my left arm free, even if I transfer my watch onto my right arm if they infuse in the left.
At that infusion, I also caught up with an off-duty policewoman, okay, she was there as a patient, not as a law enforcement officer, and she'd recently been ill, so I told her to take care of herself and hoped she felt better soon. Where I really clicked with her was she said she wanted to wear glasses and I said I love wearing them because they are part of my Asper-Geek image and fulfil my criteria for two Japanese items on me at all times. She understood and said, "Power to you." She admitted she didn't learn much about autism in the academy, and that most calls they received were regarding autistic kids not adults, but she was happy to learn from me.
Recent events in Australia, despite support for SSM, show that Australia still has much to learn, especially how not to fear difference. Allied health professionals, while they do well to look at the whole picture, need to get their autistic patients a little better. If they're able to remember, "Yes, Nutsy's his cat and Shigemi's his car, and he likes two Japanese things on him at all times," they've done well, at least for me.