Awareness

Twice Exceptional (2e): What Is It?

Sorry I haven’t posted much lately. I’ve been busy with DBT and haven’t had any topics of interest to write about. I want to write about neurodiversity topics that aren’t commonly talked about, so I’m not going to make blog posts just to increase my content. Speaking of neurodiversity topics that aren’t commonly talked about, what the heck is the term “twice exceptional”?

Twice exceptional (or 2e) describes a person who is intellectually gifted, but has a neurodivergent condition that affects learning. If you have read some of my recent blogs about my autism diagnosis, you will see that I am labeled as 2e as I’m intellectually gifted and autistic.

Yes, autistic people can be intellectually gifted. You might be working with or attending school with someone on the autism spectrum and may not realize it.

If you have never heard of this term, it’s okay! I didn’t hear about it until April 2021 when I was having my intake session with my autism evaluator. I mentioned to her that years ago, my grandfather revealed to me that my elementary school wanted me in a special program at a different school. I asked mom about it because I was wondering if it was a “special needs school”. She told me that the school felt like I was very smart and a school administrator wanted to do a home visit to see if I was naturally smarter than other classmates or if I was getting supplemental learning at home to get ahead of my classmates. Mom didn’t want to go through with it because she wanted me to have a normal childhood. My husband and his brother were in gifted programs at their school, but my husband might not remember what he did in the program. I think it was through his school, while other people have to attend school elsewhere.

This leads us to the next point about gifted children: Are they getting a proper education? It depends. Let’s first talk about gifted education for someone who is neurotypical. In many gifted education programs for kids (not sure if it’s improved now), gifted children get additional homework instead of intellectually-appropriate homework. As someone who had anxiety issues since before starting kindergarten and now has diagnoses of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder, having a lot of homework would not have worked well for me.

Proper education for twice-exceptional children? Heck, parents of disabled children are still trying to fight hard for accommodations and an education that works well for the child. Now add the fact that people are thinking “WTF?” when they hear a gifted child needs some form of special education and it’s a bigger challenge. You know, the whole “You’re smart, so why aren’t you trying?” issue. People also focus more on the disability instead of the ability. Let’s look at this Understood article written in 2017 by Jon Morin. Jon Morin talked about the educational journey of his oldest son and how the family worked with his high school to balance his intellectual strengths with his neurodivergent challenges. His son’s high school tried something new: a hybrid English program that combined what he was learning in English class with independent study. His son’s strength includes making larger connections to what he’s learning. For example, instead of getting simple worksheets on Romeo and Juliet, he’d write an essay to more deeply explore the play. Could this work for every twice-exceptional student? No, but it’s important to notice your child’s strengths and challenges to find the best way for your student to learn while managing their challenges.

My research dealing with twice exceptional mostly shows twice-exceptional children. If you’re like me, your twice-exceptional profile wasn’t noticed until adulthood. Like autism, there needs to be more resources and services for adults.

To the teachers and future teachers: Learn about twice-exceptional students and how to help students who are gifted, regardless of neurotype. Learn from them too, as a proper education for twice-exceptional students is crucial.

Self-Reflection

Do I Wish to Have Gotten my Autism Diagnosis Sooner?

Short answer: Yes!

I could have included this in my post where I process my diagnoses, but I think this is a question that some of us ask ourselves or others may ask us.

While my answer is yes, I would have wanted a diagnosis AFTER high school. This is because I have been told by other neurodivergent people that they didn’t feel challenged enough at their schools. I was in honors and AP (advanced placement courses) in high school, and I feel that having an autism (or Asperger’s as I probably would have been labeled back then) diagnosis would have prohibited me from taking those classes. As revealed in my testing, I am also intellectually gifted so I would have been bored in my regular classes. Heck, my “finger play” in second grade came from being bored in class.

Would I have wanted a diagnosis in university? Yeah, I was struggling HARD during some semesters in college. Read about that here. I wish my parents started suspecting something when I was having trouble during my freshman year so they could figure out ways I could be helped. Not only was I adjusting to a less-structured life, but my struggles lasted throughout freshman year and returned during junior year. I struggled junior year of high school as well, and they should have suspected something was wrong when their ideas for improving my grades didn’t work. I’m very resentful of my parents for them thinking just trying harder would work. If I had a diagnosis (again, I would have probably been given the Asperger’s label if my diagnosis was before DSM-5 came out), we would find ways that I can minimize my struggles.

A major barrier to getting a proper diagnosis before last month is due to the lack of knowledge a lot of people have about autism. My mom didn’t think I was autistic because she had a brother who was autistic (was because he died in 2007) and I wasn’t like him. It took 5 therapists to notice my social skills issues and an additional therapist to figure out that I show autistic traits. So many therapists are unaware of autism that many of us either get misdiagnosed or are only diagnosed with the comorbidities without someone trying to piece together everything that’s the underlying cause. A misdiagnosis may cause more harm than good, especially if an autistic person is misdiagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). There is such a heavy stigma on BPD inside the mental health industry that a majority of therapists refuse to work with BPD patients. Regarding me not seeming autistic to my mom, non-autistic people have a one-track perception of autism. They expect every autistic person to look the same and have the same presentations. It’s why many autistic women have a hard time seeking a diagnosis. Autism was something that people thought only white boys could have and that it was a childhood condition that people grew out of, hence the lack of services for adults.

I first was wondering if I was autistic almost 6 years ago when a co-worker at the time asked me if I had any learning disabilities because it seemed like I did. This co-worker has been diagnosed with many learning disabilities, but I am not sure if he has an autism diagnosis. If I ever see him again, I’ll ask. This was the first time someone noticed something was wrong with me. However, it was over two years ago when I strongly suspected it. See the full timeline here.

Having a diagnosis much sooner in life would have saved me a lot of stress and anxiety when it came to not performing to neurotypical expectations. I would have been able to get help for things I struggle with. I could have learned what jobs to not do because of my unique autistic traits.

Awareness

Limerence (Obsessive Thoughts About People) and Neurodivergence

Definition of Limerence: Intense romantic attraction that includes obsessive thoughts, fantasies, and a strong desire to form a romantic relationship with your person of interest.

Never heard of the term? Neither did I until June 22nd when I was looking up information about being hyperfixated on people. Someone mentioned the term in the r/ADHD subreddit on a post about someone being hyperfixated on a person.

When I was looking up hyperfixation, most of the results dealt with hyperfixation being associated with ADHD. However, autistic people can have hyperfixations as well. Note: I was also evaluated for ADHD during my neuropsych evaluation and I do not have ADHD. My ADHD-like issues regarding executive function appear more under anxiety.

Have you experienced being obsessed with people you had a crush on? Do you talk about your crush often? Would these crushes last more than a year? Why is this reminding me of my middle school (and high school to a lesser time extent) self? This my friends is limerence.

My hyperfixation on crushes started in sixth grade when I developed a crush on a guy named Adam. At the time, I didn’t know of the term crush, so I would tell people I was “in love” with him. I tried to get a band together called “Adam’s Angels” where we’d perform parodies of songs where words were changed to describe Adam. I would talk about him all the time. I’d even write his name on my palms (one palm said “Ad” and the other palm said “am”). I made him a sign to put on his locker for his birthday since people’s lockers would be decorated for birthdays. I wanted to marry him. When he was thinking about going to a private all-boys school for high school (he didn’t), it devastated me. I was mad at this one guy for having his picture being between Adam and I’s yearbook picture because I for sure thought my picture would be next to his (funny thing is that I would develop a crush on that guy in eighth grade). People said I was obsessed with Adam and I took that as a compliment because I didn’t know the negative connotation of the word (thanks, autism).

Cara, don’t middle schoolers act like this around their crushes? At my middle school, they didn’t. The entire sixth grade knew about my crush on Adam. Besides, limerence does not go away after middle school.

Fast forward to ninth grade where I develop a crush on this one guy in band. In tenth grade, he revealed that I’m a very obsessive person and he quit a club we were in back in ninth grade once he became my next crush. That freakin’ hurt. As a way of masking, I tried to tone down my obsessive behaviors, which didn’t work. It was years after I finished university that I discovered that I naturally have an obsessive personality.

Speaking of university, there was a cute guy in my microbiology class. I talked about him so much that my friends wrote a letter to me about how I talked about him too much and I either need to talk to him or shut up. Luckily, one friend wanted no involvement in that letter (thanks, Kain). University was a time when my social deficits came to light more and upon reflection, I truly put in more effort to masking during my time there. I’m not nearly as boy-crazy as I once was, but adult Cara (not my real name) still can get a little chatty regarding crushes. Also, I only was chatty about boy crushes. Once I started developing feelings for girls, I was silent about it. Very silent.

I was reading the Aspergirls book and didn’t feel alone when I read part of Chapter 8 titled “Attraction, Dating, Sex, and Relationships” (look, I know people don’t like that chapter because of its heteronormative dating advice, but this book was written in 2010 when not many people used inclusive language and people didn’t use terms like “heteronormativity” or “comphet”). The author of this book as well as an excerpt by Elfinia shared something in common with me: we would become obsessed with our crushes and that never turned out well.

So is there a way to tone down our obsessions with people? Should we change ourselves if we’re not putting ourselves or others in danger?

This post has been brought to you by my brother-in-law’s nice legs. All that bicycling will do that to your legs. Thumbs up. Play the song “Bicycle Race” either the original Queen version or the cover by Blümchen.

Mental Health · Self-Reflection

Processing My Autism Diagnosis

It feels like it’s been so long since I have written a blog post. I had my vow renewal, and that resulted in my childhood friend developing a crush on my brother-in-law (the best man).

Earlier this month, I received my diagnosis of autism (as well as panic disorder and a re-diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder). When I received my report, it was days before my feedback session with my autism evaluator. She wanted to give me time to process the report (16 pages!) ahead of time. I decided to process my diagnoses with my therapist. Short version of how I feel:

  • Autism: Very Happy
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: I received that diagnosis in early 2020 before the pandemic shut things down
  • Panic Disorder: Wasn’t expecting that. That’s new

So why am I very happy with an autism diagnosis? Almost 6 years ago, I started suspecting that I’m autistic. Two years ago, I started strongly suspecting it. Reading Aspergirls made my life make sense to me. Support groups and stories from autistic people helped me understand ahead of time that autistic people aren’t “broken” so they don’t need to be fixed like non-autistic people think. I almost got diagnosed with Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder, which is a new diagnosis most people don’t hear about and some women have been given this “weaker” diagnosis. However, two things were able to get me the proper autism diagnosis: my intense interest in medical stuff when I was nine years old, and the “finger play” motor stereotypies I would engage in when I was 7 and bored in second grade.

How do I feel about my anxiety-related disorders? Well the Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosis isn’t new. What did surprise me is the Panic Disorder diagnosis, as I feel like my anxiety attacks did not happen often enough to qualify for that diagnosis. My evaluator recommended short-term (whatever that means) medication that focuses on treating the anxiety and panic. While I didn’t want to be put on medication as I worried I’d be on it for the rest of my life and that it was the same as succumbing to my mental illness, things that happened earlier this year made me realize that medication may be my only hope to get better. I will talk to someone at my therapy center’s medication management team in the near future, and I feel like the only reason why my therapist is on board with medication despite me asking for months is because my evaluator said it may help. For those new to my blogs, I can’t use cannabis as a natural treatment due to the nature of my job and the fact that my husband gets drug tested for the army. L-theanine isn’t really cutting it anymore either.

How do I feel about being intellectually gifted and thus twice-exceptional (2E)? So I’m surprised that I’m intellectually gifted. Some of us gifted people were considered really smart in our younger years, and then high school or college starts bringing about challenges as we now have to put in more effort into our schooling. I struggled in my post-college job and it took me years to realize that my unique aspects of my neurotype causes me to not be a good programmer despite autistic people being known to be good computer programmers. However, once I found a job that was a perfect fit, my intellectual gifts became more pronounced and people at my job noticed my giftedness before I discovered it. I’ll make a post about twice-exceptionality at a later date.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for Covid, I wouldn’t have gotten an autism diagnosis. Most therapists aren’t fully aware of autism or the differences between boys and girls on the spectrum. The therapist I had pre-Covid had to quit because she works full-time as a pediatric social worker and she would be almost too mentally exhausted to conduct therapy. The therapist I had after that noticed my social skills issues from Day 1, which no other therapist did. She had to quit due to having to move for a new job, but I want to find her to thank her for noticing the most significant challenge I have that’s an aspect of my autism. Because those two therapists quit, I went to a different location where therapists didn’t have nearly as high of a turnover rate. This is where I found the therapist who noticed my autism.

Thank you Shanay and thank you Maria. If it wasn’t for you two, I would not have had my autism diagnosed.

Before I end this blog, readers who were here back in 2017 may remember that I made a blog post about an ADHD diagnosis based on a questionnaire. As we now now that my ADHD-like issues regarding executive function appear more under anxiety and that my evaluation I had last month did not reveal ADHD (my evaluator tested me for that too), will I delete that post? The answer is NO. This is because many autistic women are misdiagnosed with ADHD due to the overlap of symptoms and I want to show that I was a victim of misdiagnosis. However, it should be pointed out that some people have a diagnosis of both ADHD and autism. People thought you had to have one or the other, but professionals are now learning that you can have both.

School

Graduate Project Preparation

Hello everyone! Before we get started, please note that this is how I prepared to start my graduate project. Your university may not have the same preparation process.

What do I mean by preparing for your graduate project? I had to go through this process:

  1. Have at least 18 completed credits by the time of registration
  2. Think about what I wanted to do
  3. Ask a professor to be my project advisor
  4. Create a proposal
  5. Submit the proposal to the program director for approval
  6. Register for the project class upon approval

Have at least 18 completed credits by the time of registration: Your program may have a different prerequisite for starting your graduate project.

Think about what I wanted to do: I have known for years that I wanted to do something to help autistic people and people with ADHD, but I narrowed it down to just autistic people once there was (correct) suspicion about me being autistic. While I knew what I wanted to do before I even started grad school, you will need to have some kind of idea by the semester before you plan on doing your project. Your project can be an independent project or you can work with a group of people who have been undertaking the project beforehand.

Ask a professor to be my project advisor: I actually did this the second week of the Spring 2021 semester so I could have time to find another professor if my top choice was unable to be my advisor. I was able to get her as my advisor, but since she has a very busy workload for Fall 2021, we felt it best for me to join a pre-existing project.

Create a proposal: My university’s program has a template online for us to use when creating our proposal. In my program, the project advisor will help you with creating your proposal. My advisor also helped to make edits to my proposal, but I don’t know if every professor will do that.

Submit the proposal to the program director for approval: Either you or your project advisor will submit your project proposal to the program director or whomever is in charge of approving project proposals. If your graduate program is like mine, you cannot register for the project class until your proposal gets approved.

Register for the project class upon approval: Congratulations on getting your proposal approved! Now you can register for the class without any issues.

While not every university’s graduate program will have you do the same things I had to do, this can give you a good idea of what you may have to do. Ultimately, you should follow the guidelines set forth by your university to prevent any issues.

Self-Reflection

Goal Check-In #3

Welcome to June! The cicadas keep flying into my car while I drive, my first wedding anniversary is today, and my vow renewal is this Saturday! As it has been around 3 months since my last goal check-in and we have some updates since the last time, let’s see what progress I have made! My goal-setting blog can be found here and my previous check in blog can be found here.

Goal #1: Write one poem every one to two months.

Synopsis: In August 2020, I started a personal writing project where I write one poem every month or two with my final poem being written by June 2021.

Progress: The annual poetry service will be on August 1st, meaning my final poem will be written in July. I have been fighting with a lack of motivation, but my list of future poetry themes helped with my previous problem of lacking inspiration.

Goal #2: Recite one of my poems at this year’s annual poetry service.

Synopsis: I will present a poem I wrote during my personal writing challenge at my Unitarian Universalist church’s annual poetry service in July 2021.

Progress: As mentioned in my progress for Goal #1, the annual poetry service will be on August 1st. I plan to recite my original poem “Am I Not Black?”, which is a poetic complaint about how black people have their blackness questioned by people in their community. I have already notified the person in charge of the annual poetry service about my interest in participating and I have to send her my poem by July 15th.

Goal #3: Do a lay-led service this year.

Synopsis: I wish to do a lay-led service at my church with the topic being “You’re Never Too Old to be a Changemaker”.

Progress: Not happening. Goal abandoned. My church seemed to prioritize people who have prior experience whose sermons are well-received and they are even letting a former member do a lay-led service, which should not happen. Due to that and the requirements for new people, I may choose to never do a service even though I planned one for next year. The summer services will also have a lot of pre-recorded services.

Goal #4: Keep my grades up

Synopsis: In the Master’s program, I need to keep my GPA to at least 3.0 because that is the minimum GPA requirement for graduating with your Master’s degree.

Progress: Not only have I kept my grades up, but my GPA has improved! I am tempted to retake the Spring 2020 class I got a C in to improve my GPA even more, but that class is only offered in the spring and I am not staying in the Master’s program any longer. I graduate in December and plan to keep it that way, especially since people are judging me for taking so long to get my degree.

Goal #5: Getting proper mental health help

Synopsis: Therapy has failed me in the past and I want to figure out why.

Progress: Lots of updates here. On May 17th, I started weekly DBT skills group which meets every Monday. Sometimes, DBT things feel like utter bullshit, but I will play along with it. I received my autism diagnosis earlier this month and due to also having Generalized Anxiety Disorder (already diagnosed near the beginning of 2020) and a new diagnosis of Panic Disorder, my evaluator recommended that short-term medication for my anxiety and panic may be helpful. I didn’t want to be on medication, but I have been considering it for months and this was recommended as a short-term solution so I don’t have to worry about being on it for life. I will talk to my therapist about medication as an option and my therapy center has an in-house medication management team. As for therapy, I feel like it’s just not going to work. If it was, I wouldn’t want to quit therapy. I’m only still in therapy as individual therapy is a requirement for DBT skills group. Plus, my autism makes me have a rigid brain that is treatment-resistant. I should be done with DBT sometime in October, so I may quit therapy after that. At least I know that part of the reason why therapy failed was because of people’s lack of autism knowledge.

Uncategorized

The Path to a Neuropsychological Evaluation: Part 4 (Feedback Session and Results)

Please find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here. Part 1 mainly talks about the timeline of noticing different neurodivergent aspects of myself, part 2 mainly talks about my (virtual) intake session with my evaluator, and part 3 talks about what I did for my evaluation.

Since my last blog post, I completed the anxiety questionnaire. It only asked about the past week, which doesn’t give a full picture of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Due to my Part 1 blog post, she gave me two ADHD questionnaires as well. Those who were here since the beginning of Diary of Self may remember when I posted about my primary care doctor feeling like I have very mild ADHD. Due to me not having the same presentations my brother had and my parents not understanding that I struggled in undergrad and earlier, they didn’t believe it.

On June 1, I received my report. Where I went for my evaluation, the evaluators write very thorough reports. I sent the report to my therapist as she expressed interest in reading the report. My evaluator gave me the report ahead of time so I can have a few days to mentally process everything. I waited to read it until the next day during my therapy session. 16 pages! While people do evaluation reports differently, my evaluation report included the following:

  • Testing rationale: why I was getting tested
  • Summary of findings, which included the diagnoses
  • Recommendations based on findings
  • Evaluation measures and procedures
  • Relevant history
  • General behavioral observations
  • Interpretation of scores
  • Detailed discussion of test findings
  • Additional resources
  • An appendix with my score summaries

On June 4, I had my feedback session with my evaluator. This was done virtually as the evaluation center is trying to have as few people inside the office as possible. This is also good as I live over an hour away from where I did my evaluation. I was allowed to have other people in the feedback session as well, though I only had my mom in the call with us since my dad and husband were at work. However, who can attend your feedback session with you will depend on your evaluator. In this feedback session, I was given the opportunity to ask any questions that I had and my evaluator talked about things on the report. She is sending a revised report because my therapist noticed that one of the tests I did had nothing under the detailed reports section. That was because nothing major was noticed in that test.

My final diagnoses are as follows:

  • Autism
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (I was diagnosed with this in early 2020, so that was no surprise)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Given my full scale IQ of 129, I am considered twice exceptional (or 2E) meaning I am intellectually gifted with special needs

As for whether I have ADHD, I don’t. My evaluator feels like my executive functioning skills aren’t very good when I’m anxious, but that’s it. Thank you all so much for following this path with me! Expect more blogs from me about autism and what it means to be 2E mixed in with my grad school posts.

School · Self-Reflection

I Can See The Finish Line! Reflection on Spring 2021 Semester

Unlike my other school reflection posts, this will only include one class. That is because I only took one class during the Spring 2021 semester. With the exception of Software Engineering 1 and Advanced Web Developments, classes I have taken that are not a core class are not offered every semester. The other lecture class I am required to take is only offered in the fall and I will be taking my final lecture class in Fall 2021.

Software Testing and Maintenance: I kind of liked this class. I was a test engineer in a previous job and I loved the repetitiveness and explicitness of what to do. However, I feel like this class did a little more theory work than I expected. Yes, Computer Science focuses on theory. Yes, this class was one of the more hands-on classes I took. Did I want more hands-on work? Of course! This class helped me to fully understand the concept of creating unit tests. Even the job training bootcamp I did for a low-paying programmer job years ago didn’t teach this. The only thing I truly didn’t like about the class was having a project suddenly sprung up on us. If you read my posts about my neurodivergence, I like being prepared ahead of time. Usually, professors I had will tell you in the syllabus about a project so you’re not caught off guard. The sudden project was stressful for me because I was also working on my graduate project proposal and a homework assignment for this class.

Final Grade: A-

Overall GPA: 3.365

Okay, let me say a couple of things. One, I expected a B or a B+ in that class so I’m very surprised with the A-. My grades from this school year (2 A-s and a B) are definitely big improvements over my 2019-2020 school year (3 Bs and a C). I had the goal to keep my grades up and I ended up improving my GPA! For grad school, you need at least a 3.0 GPA to graduate. I’m going to definitely do my best my final semester because I am considering getting a Doctorate at the same university after taking a break and though the program does not have a minimum GPA requirement, I want to make sure I don’t jeopardize things.

Fall 2021 will be my final semester in the Master’s program. I’m so happy to be almost done because I am tired of people at my church asking me when I’m done. I know it took me much longer than two years to get to the end, but do I have to be judged for it? I will need to apply for my December graduation by August 15th. However, I will be changing my last name some time in July so I am unsure whether to apply for graduation now or wait until I change my name and have my new name documented at my university.

Uncategorized

The Path to a Neuropsychological Evaluation: Part 3 (Evaluation)

Please find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Part 1 mainly talks about the timeline of noticing different neurodivergent aspects of myself and part 2 mainly talks about my (virtual) intake session with my evaluator.

I apologize for this post appearing long after the beginning of May. I had two days of evaluations plus other later days for more questionnaires. Before we get started with talking about my evaluation, there are some things I need to point out.

  1. This neuropsych evaluation was to evaluate me for autism or possibly Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder. An evaluation for another neuropsych condition will not look the same.
  2. This was my autism evaluation. Your experience may be different, especially since I was evaluated at a center that customizes the tests based on what was discussed at intake.
  3. I will not tell you in detail what goes on in each test I had to do. If I do, it may influence you to take your test a specific way in order to get the diagnosis you want. I don’t know if other evaluation centers say this specifically, but the evaluators where I went are explicitly trained to stop tests and discard all scores if it becomes obvious that someone studied ahead of time, especially if this is testing to get into a special program or school for gifted children.

My evaluation occurred over two days (plus additional later days). Sometimes it can be done in one day, but I took so long with the IQ test that we didn’t exactly have enough time to do everything in one day.

The first test I did was an IQ test. The IQ test comprised of many different parts. For someone with an IQ in the average range, it will take you about 90 minutes. However, it took me about (or maybe more than) 2.5 hours. This is because I consistently was making it all the way to the end of each section where the hardest stuff occurs. I don’t know my actual IQ yet as some parts of the test were done on paper, but it was in this IQ test that I learned I fall within the range of being intellectually gifted. Most of my IQ test was done using an iPad app that is connected to my evaluator’s iPad. Many years ago, IQ tests were solely done using paper and a pencil. If your child is taking an IQ test, reassure them that they should do the best they can and not worry about getting every question right.

After a snack break (and stretching my legs because of how long I was sitting), there was the interview portion. My parents were brought in and we talked about things relating to my childhood. My evaluator used the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R) to gather my history. On the second day of evaluation, my evaluator asked me more questions that were a part of the ADI-R.

Next, the evaluator asked me about the meaning of figurative phrases. My brain wasn’t in the best state as there were a lot of things that had gone wrong on my ride to my second day of evaluation, so that made things not as fun. Some of the phrases were phrases even my evaluator never heard of! Just do the best you can to figure out the meaning of phrases you have never heard of.

After that was some executive functioning testing. It involved paper and pencil as well as doing something on an iPad. Again, I will not tell you what things I did for that test as you will probably try to prep ahead of time. You may recognize one portion of the test from other online sites, though. I know I have seen it many many years ago.

Anything after this may not be in the correct order, but that’s okay. We did some memory testing where I had to recall things I heard and I surprisingly did better than I thought! You see, my memory regarding recalling what I read is not that great, but I apparently do better when recalling things I hear. That’s odd because it often doesn’t feel that way at work. That’s why my primary care doctor thought I may have ADHD. After doing some more unrelated tests, I had to do memory recall again to test how much I remember. This is to test how much you can recall despite a time lapse and doing other activities.

At some point (not sure when), there was an activity with 20 pictures and I would have to guess what picture my evaluator was thinking of in as little questions as possible. Sounds like Guess Who, right?

Once that was done, my evaluator pulled out a lot of pictures and I had to tell what was happening, describe how people were feeling, and what I predict will happen. This part was honestly the most mentally exhausting part of the evaluation as I didn’t know how many pictures out of that big stack I was going to have to talk about. We did not do all of the pictures, thank goodness. I think this and the ADI-R were done in place of the commonly-used Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). This is good because I discovered Purple Ella through her adult autism assessment video and she describes fully what she did in the ADOS.

Next, I had to do a questionnaire regarding social things. Depending on your age, the questionnaire about yourself may be different. As I am an adult, I got an adult self questionnaire. Meanwhile, my mom was in the lobby working on the adult questionnaire that a parent or relative does. Now will all parents of adult neuropsychology clients need to do a questionnaire and interview? Probably not always, but I wasn’t driving myself so it was probably something for them to do. As my parents missed so many things, I worry about whether that will affect my diagnosis.

I also did an emotional questionnaire, which I feel is important due to my emotional regulation issues. Some people get misdiagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder due to emotional regulation issues, though emotional dysregulation can be found in people with ADHD and autism as well. I was not in the office when I did this questionnaire, but I did it online with my evaluator as some of the questions are known to be confusing to people. It was so many questions too!

The final thing I have to do is an anxiety questionnaire. As of the time of this writing, I am still waiting for the questionnaire. I feel like this blog post was taking too long to be released so I’m not waiting to post this any long. Like the emotional questionnaire, I will do this online. However, I will this on my own instead of with my evaluator. I don’t think this is typical in a neuropsychological evaluation, but I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder so my evaluator wants to get a clear picture of my anxiety.

Now that everything’s over, what is my final diagnosis? Is it Autism Spectrum Disorder like I thought, Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder like my evaluator suspects, or something else? See you in the final part of this blog series The Path to a Neuropsychological Evaluation.

School

Do I HAVE to do a Thesis in the Master’s Program?

It depends on your program.

When people think of Master’s degrees, they may think “thesis”. Even my university’s commencement page says that a thesis and oral examination are usually required. However, you may not be required to do a thesis. Let’s talk about the Computer Science Master’s program at my university first. Note that my options may be different from your school’s options.

At my university, my major has a thesis option, or non-thesis options. If you pick the non-thesis option, you will either choose to do a project or an internship. I am doing the project option next semester and am currently working on my project proposal as I cannot register for the project class until my proposal gets approved by the program director. Why did I pick the project option? I didn’t want to write. Turns out I still have to write a report on what I did for my project. I have a full-time IT job so I wasn’t going to do the internship option. Some people said I could just have my supervisor sign it off as an “internship”, but I would have to talk about what I did at that job which I would not be allowed to do.

However, at my university, some programs only give you a thesis option. This is the case for Women’s Studies majors. Other majors may also have a thesis or non-thesis option. For the Communication Management program, you will have a thesis or non-thesis option, but your non-thesis options are a graduate project or comprehensive exams. You may have to do clinical work or a practicum if you are in a health-based major or do a showcase of your work in art-based majors.

I have an aunt who got her Master’s degree at a different institution long before I was born. I believe it was a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree, but she only had the thesis option. Looking things up, that program has a Capstone now.

To wrap up this kind of short post, no two schools do their programs the same way. What’s required for one program at one school may be different from what another school requires for their program. Just go on the school’s website to tell you your degree requirements.