Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Memories

I didn't at first attribute my troubles in the ASL immersion class to Asperger's. I thought that somehow, I had just failed, or maybe the instructors didn't like it that I was a hearing person working with a deaf boy (while being such a lousy signer), or that the other students had had more exposure to the Deaf social scene and therefore were more fluent and at ease with it. At that point, I only thought maybe I was an Aspie, mainly because of my social and communication difficulties.

It was about then that I ran across Dr. Tony Attwood's book, The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. I was enthralled, because in page after page, he was describing me. Things about me that I thought was just me were really traits of AS. I could see it clearly:

  • When I would whine to my mother (who at least has Aspie traits) about being left out and excluded at school, she would say something like, "Well, you're really too smart for them, and they don't appreciate it, but when you get to ___________ (6th grade, or middle school, or high school...) they will appreciate you."
  • How I was always last chosen for softball in PE. (How I hate that game!) I couldn't catch, throw or hit, and the strategy was unfathomable to me. I was supposedly smart, but I caught the name "retarded" more than once on the ball field.
  • How the elaborate series of stories I dreamed up starting in 6th grade, and eventually started writing down were a result of my longing for friendship that was never fulfilled. The main character is my invention, Mr. Spock's sister--a female version of him, half-Vulcan/half-human, an outcast from both worlds, who finds a true and loyal friend on earth.
  • I loved cartoons like "Prince Planet", "8th Man", "Astroboy", and "Gigantor". All had themes of the bully getting his just deserts.
  • I was a bully target, especially in middle school. I tried faking sick a few times to avoid going to school. Also, I as naive enough that on several occasions I recall being offered friendship by girls, if I would do such and such, or meet them at another location at another time...I didn't see the insincerity in their offers.
  • I was great in all subjects but math. I am a visual thinker, and abstract concepts don't come across. I remember in 1st grade crying over my math. Carrying and borrowing numbers was incomprehensible, until one day a teacher got out some bundles of little sticks and demonstrated it. Then the concept was mine. However, math has always been hard for me to grasp.
  • A 'friend' in high school was always telling me how gullible I was, and how she could "read me like a book".
  • My 5th grade teacher really didn't like me. Now, looking back, I can remember peppering her incessantly with questions, because I really wanted to understand. She probably found me annoying. I openly challenged her pronunciation of "Missouri". Both my parents were born and raised there, whereas she was from Iowa. When she insisted Missouri was pronounced "Mizz-UR-ah", I objected, and stubbornly insisted on pronouncing it "Mizz-ER-ree. To me, it was dishonest to say it any other way.
  • By 6th grade, I started working hard to be a people pleaser, especially to the teachers. And they loved me, even if the other kids didn't.
  • It was more enjoyable putting my Colorforms pieces back in their spots precisely than actually playing with them.
  • Encyclopedias were for reading pleasure.
  • In high school, I did my uncle's geology college homework for him (for pay!). That was when I became entranced with Plate Tectonics theory. I knew more about that than anyone in my school, even the teachers.
  • Shopping malls, fashions, celebrities, parties, etc. bore me, and always have.
If I could wave a wand and not be an Aspie, would I do it? No, because it is part and parcel of who I am. I wish I knew how to relate to people, and make those connections they have. I'm like a person born blind, who knows about the concepts of color and the ability to perceive objects that can't be touched, but can't actually experience them or relate to them herself. I don't really want to change, but I do want to learn some things that would add to what I am. That's where my journey seems to be leading.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you. There are a lot of us out here, just starting to figure it out. This was a really great post about your experiences. Thanks for sharing it.

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