Carcassone to Beziers


Bastille day, diagnosis

Bonjour, Joyeuse Bastille!

Today is the 230th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris. Today was a mix of gravel and road. Whether by the side of the canal or on the road though every town was preparing for the Bastille Day celebrations tonight. France 2 have a concert from the bottom of the Eiffel Tower on TV at the moment.

The Bastille was seen as a symbol of the despotism of the l’ancien regime. The anniversary is marked each year in France. In le Tour it normally means the French riders attempting (normally in vain) to win a stage for la gloire of France. While Bastille Day is one of the best known events of the French Revolution, its importance has possibly been overblown (just my opinion). There were only actually seven prisoners in the Bastille at the time (one of whom was the Marquis de Sade). Perhaps of more importance was what happened a few weeks earlier – and given the Wimbledon final was today there is a connection to today’s events here too (however tenuous).

The French equivalent of the House of Commons, called the Third Estate (the First Estate being the Clergy, and the Second the Nobility (the House of Lords in the UK is made up of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal) were locked out of their debating chamber by the King. Rather than not meet, they moved across the road to a tennis court and issued the Tennis Court Oath. The members of the Third Estate swore not to adjourn until they had agreed a constitution for France, with or without the participation of the Clergy, the Nobility or the Monarchy. This event has arguably had a huge impact. It marked the point at which the power of the Monarchies of Europe (starting with France) started to have their powers eroded. The Tennis Court Oath marked a step change in the relationship between the people of France and the monarchy. In the same way, a diagnosis for someone on the autism spectrum can mark a sea change in the way they interact with the world.

Before someone has received a diagnosis, they may be aware that they perceive and experience the world in a different way to those around them. This may lead to challenging behaviour in children. While diagnosis tends to happen earlier today, we did not know Laurie was on the autism spectrum until she was in her teens, there are adults out there who may never have been diagnosed or are diagnosed later in life.

While some people may choose to remain self diagnosed there are benefits to receiving a diagnosis. It may help the person or those around them to understand why someone might experience certain difficulties and what can be done about them. A diagnosis may correct a previous incorrect diagnosis and may mean that any mental health problems are better addressed, eg depression, people who have been formally diagnosed may be better placed to get access to services and support, it may help woman or those with a demand avoidance profile who may not have been recognised as autistic by others.

There is no need to break down any buildings hand by hand, or go to any tennis courts and issue oaths to get a diagnosis. Some diagnostic teams accept self referrals but most require a referral from a GP, so step 1 is to speak to you GP.

A diagnosis could be revolutionary for some people on the autism spectrum. With a diagnosis it may be clearer to them why they experience the world differently. If you think someone you know may be on the autism spectrum there is advice on all the autism related issues I have raised in these blogs at I am not an Expert by any stretch but I have used the National Autistic Society webpage as reference for a number of these blogs (in contrast, and slightly scarily I only had to look up a couple of things about the French Revolution).

Thanks for reading,


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Day 14 - Bastille Day!

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