Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Frustrated by Ignorance (& Pre-Marital Counselling)

Why am I crying right now?

My fiance just called me.  He'd been called to "pre-marital counselling detention" (as I called it), but more specifically, our pastor had asked to have a private meeting with him.  We've both been speculating for a few days over what would be discussed in this meeting.  We had a lot of ideas.  But we were totally wrong.

He wanted to talk about my Asperger's.

I wasn't even there (he specifically asked my fiance to meet him privately) to discuss my brain.

I haven't gotten the whole story yet, but I'm upset about that.  I'm upset because, frankly, I don't know if he would know that I was Autistic if my fiance and I had not disclosed it to him, a long time ago.  He's strangely preoccupied with my brain though and at our other pre-marital counselling meeting, he asked about it a lot.  I don't mind when people ask questions about my brain, but I'm not keen on people asking questions about my brain from people who don't know what they're talking about.

My fiance knows a lot about me and a bit about autism, but he's not the expert.  If anyone's the expert, it's ME.

What did the pastor ask about?  Well, he just mentioned to my fiance that marriage spiced with Asperger's will have its own unique challenges and life might be hard for us.  But isn't life hard for everybody?

He said that - since I apparently give less facial information than neurotypical people - I might in some way hinder my children's development.  WHAT?  My fiance and I really look forward to having kids, so this definitely peeved me.  I don't want to hear this man's backward explanation of my brain and how he thinks I'll somehow screw up my children because I apparently don't have an expressive face!  That is absurd and judgmental and makes me feel really bad about myself.

He also suggested that we visit a medical doctor (as a couple) to talk about Asperger's.  As if I've never visited a doctor about my brain before.  As if I've never seen a neurologist.  As if I haven't had years of cognitive behavior therapy.  As if I haven't seen all the specialists in pediatric autism Toronto, Ontario (at SickKids, CAMH, Geneva... I've seen them all).  As if I haven't read books and befriended other Autistic kids and been in special education and gone to extracurricular programs with other Autistic people.  I KNOW HOW AUTISM WORKS.  And even more than that, I'd like to say that I'm the most knowledgeable person about my own brain.

I fully think it would be great if my fiance had a better understanding of autism, but I think it's more important that he understands me, and I'd like to think that when he looks at me he sees more than a diagnosis I received at nine years of age.  I can't go back and "fix" my brain or change it in some way so I don't have this condition.  This is how I was built and I'm OK with that.  I actually like my brain and don't see it as a liability.  But when people like this pastor treat it like it's some sort of huge problem and obstacle that we have to overcome, it makes me feel really inadequate, like autism is a bad thing.

Autism is not a bad thing.

Autism is not a punishment.  Not for me and certainly not for my fiance.  Autism is a small portion of my life and an even smaller portion of his life.

When my fiance mentioned that the pastor said he should find a support group for other people married to Autistic individuals, I thought that was a good idea, but I retorted back that I want a support group for Autistic people married to neurotypicals, because even though I know I can be annoying sometimes, neurotypical people can definitely be an annoyance to me.

I am smart enough to see ignorance when it is near me, and frankly this small town I currently live in is full of it.  I'm really frustrated that this man is so preoccupied with my brain chemistry that he can't see through that and to all of my good qualities.

All I want to do is be happy in my marriage.  Isn't that what everybody wants, whether they're Autistic or neurotypical?

Next time, I really hope he asks me about my brain instead of asking my fiance, and next time I hope he gets to know me before expressing his concerns about how an Autistic person could possibly exist independently in the world.