I had a usual eat/pray/Torah study/read/sleep too much Shabbat. I read more of Contact. I feel a bit like I do when I meet someone I objectively should like, but who somehow irritates me. I should like the book, and on some level I do, enough to stick with it, but part of me is getting annoyed. Maybe the feeling I’m getting from it is that the author feels that anyone who went down the humanities route at university (let alone anyone who didn’t go to university at all!) is an idiot and doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. Maybe even that wouldn’t annoy me if it didn’t chime with my worst fears about the “Believe science” movement. Yes, I think science (empiricism, falsifiability, repetition) is valuable and an important element in policy decisions. No, I do not think unelected scientists should be making policy decisions instead of elected policy-makers, even if that means you sometimes get an idiot in control ignoring the advice. Elected policy makers can be replaced; unelected government scientists often can’t, or not directly.

***

I just watched an episode of WandaVision followed by one of The Mandalorian, the latter along with PIMOJ (simultaneous, but in different houses). WandaVision has gone from being a strange, not really funny spoof of old television sitcoms to a fairly conventional superhero series in the space of six episodes. The Mandalorian is technically accomplished, but lacking in soul. It reminds me of the final and weakest season of Blake’s 7. I found myself struggling to care about the characters in a story when almost everyone is a ruthless killer. Also, the droid was clearly voiced by Richard Ayoade from The IT Crowd, which was just weird.

***

I feel like I’m struggling to be a good boyfriend at the moment. To be fair, it’s hard. I can’t remember when the current lockdown actually started. Google says 5 January. Two months having a relationship on text and video has been difficult. It’s hard to be present and focused for someone I haven’t seen in person for months. Hopefully we’ll get to see each other soon, once the lockdown finishes on 8 March. We relate so much better in person.

***

Over the last couple of days I have been worrying a bit about my autism assessment. It’s on 9 March, a week and a half away. I worry that I’m going to be told that I’m not on the autism spectrum and I worry what that would mean for my self-esteem, when I’ve coped with work setbacks in recent years by telling myself that the environments were not suitable for someone on the spectrum. To be fair, I have done a lot better in jobs in healthier environments for me, which indicates that this is true. But the fear is there.

When I had the first part of the assessment, which consisted of me explaining to the psychiatrist why I think I’m on the spectrum, she said that it sounded like I was on the spectrum. However, after that I had to have a second assessment, where I was made to do various activities that would demonstrate whether I think in an autistic way and I have no idea how I did on this, so the fear of being told that (for example) I act autistic, but I don’t think autistic is strong. I don’t know what that would mean for me or my sense of self.

I felt on Friday that I wanted to do something I’ve never done before and ask some of my family and Jewish friends to pray for me. Praying to be autistic sounds weird and is probably against Jewish law, which says that you shouldn’t pray for things that can’t be changed, even if you don’t know what they are yet. The psychiatrist has probably decided her diagnosis, so I can’t pray for it to change. What I can pray for is to have self-understanding and acceptance. I would like others to pray for me partly, I suppose, because I think God may listen to them more than me, but also to feel supported by family and friends who were often long-distance people in my life even before COVID started, somewhat like Rav Soloveitchik’s view of prayer in The Lonely Man of Faith, where he sees it as less about asking God to do something and more about creating a “covenantal community” that includes God, but also other people. I do feel strange thinking about asking for it, though, so I’m not sure what to do.

12 thoughts on “Autism Fears

  1. As someone without a religion, I don’t really “pray” to God. But I do engage in some pretty long “conversations” about what’s bothering me. Usually I will be pacing around my apartment talking aloud, as though there’s a real person in the room. Sometimes it can go on for an hour or more. I don’t always get answers (because I don’t really ask for anything) — but sometimes I find myself converging on a solution to a problem. And even I don’t, I always feel better when I’m done.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “The psychiatrist has probably decided her diagnosis, so I can’t pray for it to change.” Interesting because when I pray I am aware that God is outside of time so I can pray about things now which may have already happened in the past but I don’t know the outcome, or there is information which is hidden from me. For example, after my mother died, I prayed to God that she did not suffer any pain (as the way she died could have been painful). I did not feel that the timing of my prayer mattered – God would have always known about my prayer as he is not bound by time.

    So, there is nothing wrong about praying about this diagnosis now – and I would suggest praying for the right diagnosis and for peace of mind about the diagnosis. But bear two things in mind: God does not always answer prayers as we want and that doctors often do get diagnoses wrong – especially in the areas of mental health and developmental disabilities like autism (as so much depends on subjective opinion, and there is no clinical test, as yet, for these conditions).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think there’s definitely a sense of our interactions with God being time-bound in Judaism, even if God Himself is not. Possibly because the focus in many Jewish approaches to prayer is to focus on the person praying not God.

      I intend to pray for peace of mind, definitely.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your prayer for acceptance and strength. It’s what we all need when we’re facing situations outside our control. No matter what they decide, you know who you are–your strengths, your weaknesses and your fears. I wish you the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel like there is something unscientific about the blind belief element in the “believe science movement” (actually, I didn’t know it was a movement, but doesn’t surprise me). Experiments often don’t work, results are often inconclusive, there are huge issues in publishing…I absolutely value science (I majored in a science field) but I find general statements like “I believe in science” odd, for lack of better word.

    I’m not the most diligent about daily davening, but I’ll keep you in mind. For whatever it’s worth.

    Liked by 1 person

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