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Miranda - Interview 05b

Age at interview: 49
Age at diagnosis: 49
Brief Outline: Miranda was recently diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, after three years of her being aware that she may have the condition.
Background: Miranda is single and a part time student. She lives with and cares for her mother. Ethnic background/nationality: White British

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Miranda describes experiencing ridicule as both a child and an adult. She feels that people have always perceived her to be different, even though she ‘looks normal from the outside’. She was eventually diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when she was 49, which was three years after she realised she had the condition. A disability officer at the Department of Work and Pensions suggested that she go and see a work psychologist and this eventually led to her getting a diagnosis.
 
Miranda finds that she works at a slower pace than most people but also feels that she probably doesn’t make as many mistakes as a lot of people. However, because she feels the emphasis often tends to be on speed, she has found it very difficult to keep up during education and employment. Although, Miranda has had various jobs, including working in a warehouse and a newsagent, sustaining employment has proven tricky. 
 
Miranda now looks after her mother and attends college on a part time basis. 
 
 

Miranda was pleased to get answers even though she was over 40 when she was diagnosed.

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What was it that made you want to get the diagnosis in the first place?
 
Well because I’d got that many labels shoved on me. I wanted the correct label.
 
What other labels?
 
Well, I’ve had, I’ve had ‘stupid’ ‘thick’ ‘weirdo’ probably. I’ve had all sorts, so I just wanted, if they were going to call me weirdo, then obviously I wanted the correct label to go with it, you know. And actually the person who took me there, and actually the person who actually did my report for the college, she actually was confirm… she actually also was confirmed that she has Asperger's as well. So I think she got, she told me when she came out that she’d got hers, but she’d got, because she’d actually read on a few things, and she actually thought that she might be a contender for Asperger's. So she went and saw her diagnosis, I think she might have gone and got hers privately. So I think hers might have been a lot easier and a lot quicker, because I had to use the National Health, it took a hell of a lot of a longer process and, and trying to cajole the GPs isn’t very easy. Trying to make a GP understand that you have to speak to somebody that knows what they’re talking about. You can’t send me to somebody that doesn’t know. And…
 

So, it is very hard and I think in my day, there was no chance of seeking an answer, and I think maybe I could be one of the lucky ones at my age that I have found an answer. There’s probably a lot of people my age and older that perhaps may not never ever find an answer, because GPs are just not aware of the autistic spectrum and, because they just know nothing about it; they’re not aware, maybe they might be in children, but as for adult, I think, as far as GPs are concerned today. I think what they were expecting with me, was just to live with it and just get on with it, because, there’s nothing you can do about it. Because I think they virtually say, “Well you’ve lived with it up till now, you can live with it a bit longer, but these children can’t they have, they do have that sort of priority.” And I’m thinking well maybe yes, maybe no, but, I do think, no matter what age you are, I do think you deserve an answer and shouldn’t be allowed to go through the rest of your life, having to live, just live with it, and get on with it. 

 

Miranda has an intolerance to eggs and yeast and so finds it difficult to eat out.

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And this is where I find it very, very difficult, to actually go to places  because also I have, I don’t know whether it’s because I have this disability, but I have a lot of serious dietary problems. I’m gluten I’m wheat, I’m diary, and I’m lactose and I’m yeast and I’m egg intolerant. So I find it very, very difficult to go out and have something to eat somewhere, because nobody caters, and in this day and age I think it’s wrong because you should be able. I mean I could understand if it was five years ago, or even longer. But I mean in this day and age I should be able to get a gluten free diet anywhere. It’s just ridiculous. You just can’t walk into any café, or any food establishment and get something to eat, because they don’t cater for you.

 

Miranda is happy to be on her own after some unhappy relationships in the past.

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I mean in the future are you happy not to have a relationship then?
 
Possibly yes, because I find that and I think, I think it’s the biggest worry. You see all these people out there, and how there are people out there that… because I do see myself because I suppose really, that there are people like myself who probably might be vulnerable and that lot, and I wouldn’t like to be taken in. So really I wouldn’t contemplate on going on these websites or anything like that because there are a lot of con men out there, you know. I mean they con you out of very little. Whatever depends whether you’ve got owt or nothing. So I am quite happy to sort of be on my own, because, I find it better because, I find that you don’t have to answer to anybody, you can do what you want or whatever. So really I’m not contemplating anything really. Although, I do tend to get on better with men than I do with women, I have found it sort of very difficult in the past to work with women, but I do find it easier working with blokes, because I suppose with a bloke, I suppose it’s just say what they say and then that’s it. With some people like women, that they can be, they can be nasty and they can sort of drag it on for ages, and sometimes I suppose they can make your life hell. So, but, yes, I am quite happy I think to be on my own, it doesn’t really bother me, really. I’m quite happy I’ve got college. 
 
 

Miranda's father had old fashioned ideas about women. A doctor suggested he and her brother were...

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Well, I didn’t have an easy childhood because my dad, well, it includes my brother as well, because my brother is ten years older than me, and me dad was a bit, harsh, because my dad was very, very old school because he thought that women shouldn’t have a career. They shouldn’t drive cars, they should stay at home and look after their house and home.
 
So most of the time I found myself fighting against my dad when he was alive, because he wouldn’t let me do things. He was very hard on me. I never got encouraged to do things. I never got encouraged do well at school. I was never encouraged to take my driving, although I did go on to drive a car, and I did go on to pass it first time, although I haven’t done a lot of driving since I did pass because dad didn’t agree with it. And of course then my brother didn’t help as well, because my brother, he was very much the same, because he didn’t have any other friends
 
I think when I was having the diagnosis, the doctor seemed to think that my dad and my brother may have probably similar traits as well because they didn’t have a lot of friends and my brother didn’t have any friends other than my dad. 
 
 

People should see the person and not the disability.

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I don’t think people see that person, I just think they see that I don’t think they belong, they overlook the disability, and I also feel that these, these like a… these Leonard Cheshire adverts, I think sometimes they come on far too late at night, sometimes there on it, sort of like one and two o’clock in the morning. And how many people are up at that time in the morning, and a lot of people don’t see those, those adverts to see the person and not the disability. And I think, they are on far too late, and I don’t think there is enough awareness about disabilities. I don’t feel there is enough awareness about disabilities, especially in the workplace and I feel that people who work with people in any shape or form, whether it be in the college, or whether it just be in just a normal café or something like that, they should all, I mean I think the government should fund people to go on disability awareness courses, and because not everybody is the same who walks through the door. And they should be, they should have some kind of awareness of how to, how to treat people because it’s like they just don’t know how to treat them. They’re overlooked, and they might sort of like a little space in the corner, but why should you make a little space in the corner of a room or café or anything. They should be allowed to be integrated and they should be made welcome, but there isn’t just enough awareness for disabilities. 

 

Miranda 'dreads the thought' of moving from the family home she has always lived in.

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How long have you lived here?
 
Oh all my life. I’ve lived here since I was born. So, I just really wouldn’t want to leave here. I would hate to leave here and I wouldn’t like, I wouldn’t like to live in [town] and just the thought of prospect of living in some flat would, it would be horrible because you’ve got them… you’re surrounded in a flat. You’ve got them like next door, you’ve got them above you, you’ve got them below you. I would just hate it you know. Here I just like it here, this is, I call it, it’s my safe haven, I don’t know what I’d do if I hadn’t got this house and I personally don’t know how I would cope if I had to leave here, because I don’t know. To be honest with you I would say, I’m hoping that wouldn’t be the finish of me, because I would hate the prospect of having to leave here because I’ve lived here all my life. I suppose really I don’t particularly like change, and I’m quite happy, as I am here, because obviously, I like my routine, I like what I do. I don’t like to step out of my routine.
 
 

Miranda thinks she doesn't come across very well to employers.

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I do feel that people do see you differently and I’ve been also myself been ridiculed most of my life as well. And I still sort of get ridiculed now maybe because I’m different and I don’t look like the rest of them. I don’t know why, because from the outside I look normal, but I obviously, I must sound different to a lot of people and that’s why I think I find it hard, and also I found it hard also to get a job because I have got some very good qualifications. I’ve got all my typing from years ago. I’ve got a transport exam and I’ve got two management courses under my belt. And I do find it very, very difficult to get a job.
 
I don’t find it easy, and I think it’s because, maybe it’s because of my condition because maybe I sort of don’t come across very well. It’s possibly when I’m under stress, I probably tend to probably talk faster than what I normally do, and I probably maybe possibly repetitive and so I may not just come across quite right, and maybe that could be very off putting to some employers. 
 
 

Miranda finds the pace of work at college very fast and has had help at college since getting her...

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And so it is, it is quite difficult. So I do find it hard. I don’t have much of a social life really, because I have to look after my mum. Although I do go to college two nights a week and I think if I didn’t go to college I wouldn’t have an outlet. I wouldn’t have anything else. That’s the only that I’ve got really that keeps me sane really because that’s the only thing that I’ve got really, to look forward to really, because it’s quite difficult out there.

 

And also I found with Asperger's we work at a slower pace, and then a lot of the other people although we get there at the end. And I find that the way that we work, because we work at our own pace we’re doing things, and I find that we make not as many mistakes as the rest of them, who rush through and have to re-do it again. So, but the, but the pace at college now is very, very fast and the teacher who was teaching me last night, he’s he has this, apparently he has the same disability as me. He has Asperger's. He’s a Chinese boy and he was doing astrophysics but he had to pack it up for the simple reason was, because he just couldn’t keep up with the pace because the pace is so quickly now, because I’m finding now as you probably realise yourself that so many courses that used to be something like 38 weeks has now been probably reduced, down to something like 29 weeks and you’ve got to sort of be writing. And I know it sounds ridiculous, almost two essays a night, and that is very, very difficult perhaps for the average person to actually keep up with. And it isn’t easy.

 

Can I just take you back to the diagnosis?

 

Yes, yes. 

 

We were talking about the diagnosis weren’t we?

 

Yes, yes.

 

And you said this was this one woman sort of pretty much diagnosed on the spot when she saw you. But you had to go through some sort of tests or questionnaires and questions and stuff. What did you think when she diagnosed you?

 

Well I was quite pleased actually that she diagnosed me. I was really pleased because it had taken me three years, and I had to battle myself, and the girl, that actually was supposed to be helping me didn’t. So I had to, I had to actually battle this all on my own. So … but it is it is renowned for Asperger's that once we get hold of something we don’t let go.

 

 

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