About “Ren Thorpe”

Keywords: pseudonymous, hard of hearing, Jewish (non-practicing), Autistic*, reader, writer, gamer, crafter, adoptee, black sheep, genderqueer**, cat lady.

This all came about due to the thoughts I was having every time I held a thick packet of pages containing eight different psychiatric evaluations which took place between the ages of twelve and twenty-four.

I had always thought growing up that, despite my struggles, I would somehow prevail. The mistake I made was that I never defined what ‘prevailed’ meant. Did it mean accomplishing all the things I was told I should accomplish from a very early age? Or should all of these evaluations, and the eventual Autistic Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, be taken into account?

For the last couple of years I have been in psychotherapy trying to reorganize my memories, and my mind, in the context of Autism. The result led to the realization that I have no idea who I am. I understand what I was expected to be, and at one point I shared those expectations. I need to let go of a lot of those expectations. Ditto for the ones that came about from the “I will prove them all wrong” line of reasoning.

The other thing I wondered, as I considered that the full file that I have is at least three hundred pages, is that much of how I define myself now is by where I’ve been. I have no idea where I’m going. I find myself very, very uninteresting as I have little discipline and accomplish very little as a result. I have all these interests that I think about, but don’t pursue. If I can’t work now, then I should do something. I should do a lot of somethings.

Keep in mind that all of it is in the context of an Autistic trying to figure out how to be a dynamic human being, and create an identity outside of being a “failed neurotypical.“

*Autistic – not “person with Autism.” See the following page for an argument against person-first language. Farther down the entry is a set of links to arguments for and against person-first language, in case you are interested in both perspectives:
The Significance of Semantics: Person-First Language: Why It Matters

**Genderqueer – See Wikipedia’s page for a basic run-down on this. I’ll accept being called “bisexual” if you absolutely cannot let go of binary gender, but I am not a huge fan of the term. I’m not militant about pronouns or anything and have always been ok with being referred to with female pronouns.

4 responses to “About “Ren Thorpe”

  1. Ren – I wanted to reach out to you because this process you describe, this struggle is powerful. What you are writing here on this blog is important. I was reading a piece by Judy Endow (do you know of her? I just became aware of her writing) but she was talking about how NT’s must stop viewing Autistics through the lens of NT thinking. It was such a mind twist, but one I completely embrace. As I was reading about those 300 pages of evaluations you have, I thought of her words. All those words written on all those pieces of paper, supposedly telling you who you are in the eyes of whoever was “evaluating” you. It reminded me of one of the first “evaluations” we received about my daughter Emma. It described in bland, analytic detail all her “inabilities.” I read the pages, crumpled them up into a little ball and just wept. Because the little girl they described was NOT the intelligent, funny, little girl I know. It just wasn’t. It was such a negative, critical view of her. And truthfully it felt cruel to me. I cannot imagine going before a group of specialists all looking at me with a critical eye, picking me apart, looking for my “faults” seeing only my deficits. I don’t know how anyone can function with that kind of scrutiny.
    I am just so glad you’re writing about your journey.

    • It’s funny you should post this today. I got my letter from the SSA with a fully “favorable” decision to grant SSD. It felt like anything other than favorable. It sounded like an abused, neurologically diseased person without real human connections. The part of the process that truly ripped out my dignity is that I had to convince the judge that these things about me are the only things that are important. In context, this may be necessary and true. But it’s dehumanizing and reads as though I’m going to relapse my way through the rest of my life.

      • Oh Ren. I’m sorry. It’s such an awful way the system is set up, where one must “prove” the need for support, while stripping the person of all semblance of dignity and crushing their self-worth.

  2. Thank you, Ariane. I have a great support system, though. I’ll get off of SSD faster if I worry less about my ego.

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