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Thursday today (unless time has confused me again!), the day between yesterday's appointment with The Psychologist, and signing on tomorrow. A brief oasis for me to discuss said appointment as it was a test for 'neurodiverse tendencies'. I think that's the best way of putting it; it's all a bit vague really. When I first saw The Psychologist I mentioned that I was in the process of trying to get a diagnosis for Aspergers to which she replied she could do a test that, while not an official diagnosis, could count towards one - or something. Something official anyway, though bizarrely after the test was completed (took a couple of hours) she said she wasn't trained for Aspergers specifically.

The test itself was a kind of Krypton Factor lite (sans exercise course): a mix of recall, pattern recognition, problem solving, and questionnaire. I was asked to arrange coloured blocks into a prescribed pattern, to spot what was missing from a series of pictures, to guess from a selection of images the next in a given pattern. Some of these were timed. Other tests included answering what seemed like general knowledge questions (for example: who wrote Hamlet, who wrote Faust, name all the continents). Some questions demanded multiple answers including definitions of words and, perhaps oddly, almost moral questions, such as 'what is the purpose of parole?'. There were also tests involving recalling and ordering pattersn of numbers and letters to increasing levels of difficulty.
Following that was a conversation as to what all this means in the context of welfare. Unfortunately this is where The Psychologist becomes less helpful. I have a suspicion that she, through her job and her role within the DWP (as opposed to outside of it) hears what I ask as something slightly different to what I'm asking. At least that's how it seems. I ask what I'm meant to do with all this information, and a subsequent diagnosis pending collation of the results, and...? This seems to hit a wall.

I've asked a couple of times now just what she actually does: what the purpose of seeing her is. In fact I suspect it's slightly different than what the adviser at the Jobcentre thinks. I've no doubt the latter thinks The Psychologist is there to get me into a job ASAP, the same as every scheme or individual you are sent to see. So we talk about the Work Programme as well as couple of other schemes that are available, ostensibly (as far as I can tell), to people with disabilities, but they all sound the same. Moreover, what are these schemes meant to do: I raised the issue that these schemes are questionable, they can't manufacture jobs and there's a great deal of doubt surrounding the efficacy of the WP. But of course she can't give an answer to that. So what does it all mean? Beyond this test, what exactly am I seeing The Psychologist for?
What does she do?

Regarding the test she suspects I might have Attention Deficit Disorder. It is pleasing to see a specialist that is open to these, as she calls them, neuro diverse conditions. The populist press has gone a long way to downplay the existence of such conditions, even including conditions such as Dyslexia! She seems to know what she's talking about (I hope) even though where such a diagnosis, if confirmed, takes me in respect of the welfare system and work. Such a diagnosis doesn't also preclude the possibility of other conditions, such as Aspergers, either. We discuss what ADD means and how it effects people and it resonates a great deal. I point out that the reality is that people with these conditions (or indeed any condition) aren't really going to get special treatment at work: let's be honest, the average employer, faced with a candidate with and a candidate without ADD, is going to pick the one without. That to me seems indicative of the real world. Of course it can be argued that I should not mention this condition when applying, but that is not helpful to me in coping with it in a work environment - and why should I? These conditions aren't to be ashamed or frightened of surely?

This illustrates my fundamental problem with The Psychologist: she just doesn't understand these real world concerns. She doesn't seem able to offer any answer to that above problem and so, in the end, that means continuing to deal with the benefits system, and on JSA being refused for a job - for whatever reason - is always something that isn't looked favourably on. I have tried to explain to her that dealing with JSA/JC+ is just a nightmare; I mentioned that I'm pushing my GP for an ESA referral (ie a sicknote) and he, sort of, agrees that the ESA support group would be the best place, to that end the two of them will hopefully communicate. But that will take time. Again the wheels move slowly and in the meantime we come back to the one core question The Psychologist just can't deal with: how do I deal with the benefits system? They send me to see her and she doesn't seem to really have an answer.

Finally she - at the risk of blowing my own trumpet - comments, in regard of a possible ADD diagnosis, that I'm very capable and talented. This is all very nice to hear of course (and who's going to disagree with such praise when they receive it!), but it just sounds like the sort of rote statement you get when you're at school: "could do better, has a lot of potential, if only he could live up to it, blah di blah". So is there any value in it, especially if she can't actually provide any concrete assistance. I hardly think she's going to come out and say that the test indicates I'm incredibly stupid and untalented, though I suppose that's not a very fair thing to say. But surely, if someone - me - is indeed capable and talented, then what's the point of forcing me to apply for the sort of mundane crap the JC offers? if she can't ultimately help in that regard, where it counts, then what's the point?


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