There is something I understand as being quite common amongst autistic individuals: namely, the feeling of being openly ignored. Looked straight past. In discussions, I have heard it suggested that we do not, perhaps, have a natural presence, nor natural body language and so are overridden in turn. Which is painful realisation to make, and one that was plunged home to me yesterday, at a doctor’s appointment.
It was, to be frank, actually a therapy appointment, which made it sting all the more that the experience I had there was not befitting of a bastion of dependency, trustworthiness and professionalism.
My appointment was at 9.30am and I arrived ten minutes early, having checked the SMS and letter five times to make sure I had the day, date, time and place correct. The Receptionist was pleasant and said she’d inform them of my arrival. I took my place in the waiting room.
At 9.35am, someone who I was fairly sure was the gentleman I had seen at my last appointment, poked his head out of a door and scanned the waiting room – but not in my direction. Ten full minutes later, at a quarter-to-ten, he walked past me, wearing his coat, and leaves the building.
Between my uncertainty of it being the gentleman I required, and my inability to process quickly enough (because, I mean, it surely couldn’t be him – I had an appointment!) I did not speak out and stop him, meaning all I could do was go back to Reception and confirm I did, indeed, have an appointment. The lady assured me I did and I had to, embarrassingly, explain that I had just watched the man walk right by me, missing me completely sitting in full view, and leave. Three people spent thirty minutes trying to contact him, until they sent the Practice Manager to apologise to me and promise a rearrangement.
I was, and am, livid.
I spend enough of my daily life feeling downtrodden, dismissed and downright invisible and now, even in an institution supposed to be helping me with those issues, they manage to find a way to heap on the misery. My distrust of such services is currently resolute.
In order to make myself feel better, though, I have drafted an incredibly strongly-worded letter to the Manager. Who said I can’t express myself – hmph!?