I’m going to switch gears for a little bit and talk about something else. The OTHER thing, Autism/ASD/Aspergers….whatever it is called now.
Growing up, late 80s, 90s, FEMALE- there was no way I was going to get a diagnosis, but having gotten that label now, and looking back – things are just so much easier to understand. I wasn’t “crazy”, which I literally said to myself every day. There was nothing “wrong” with me….another mantra. I had Aspergers.
Females experience ASD different than Males. That’s my truth. I – like many females, made rules based on observations, successes and failures, which created an acceptable means of succeeding in society.
You Must Follow The Rules.
My mom, who has now self diagnosed as ASD, didn’t have any of this on her radar when I was growing up, but she helped me navigate the world.
Many times she was very crafty and impressive in her wording:
“I know you’ve just learned how to snap your gum and it’s a lot of fun, but people around you might find the noise annoying.” Rule created: No snapping gum unless you’re alone or in a noisy environment.
Sometimes not so much:
“Why do you bounce so much when you walk?!” Rule created: Glide carefully as you walk being sure not to move your body up or down at all. (This ultimately still got me picked on as “the girl who walked like she had a stick up her ass”)
Sometimes they were dangerous:
“Mom, the boys on the bus are touching my breasts and saying rude things to me” “Some day you’ll find that you enjoy attention like that” Rule created: I’m wrong for being upset about this and should encourage their behavior.
Social settings – Rule created: Always run through your sentence in your head before saying it out loud. – This usually means that I stayed silent as the conversation had moved on before I found what I wanted to say as acceptable. Another Rule: Don’t really laugh. People find your laugh surprisingly loud compared to your level of speech and they find it strange. Conversation will stop and everyone will stop and stare at you. Just don’t laugh.
Rules are important to me, they let me know what will work and what won’t. When things deviate from the rules that’s when the anxiety kicks in. I’m often viewed as stubborn, not spontaneous, and self righteous. These are true negative aspects of this. However the positive attributes should not be ignored. In fact I long for them to be celebrated – especially by my immediate family. My rules and strictness allow me to reach great skill in piano playing, ballet dancing, parenting, cooking, crocheting….I read and learn everything I can about these areas so I don’t “mess up”. But, I do, and other people have different ideas and that is hard for me.
If you’ve gotten this far in my post I will reward you with some funny-ish (I hope) stories about my kids and their aspergian traits.
Yesterday my son was coming with me somewhere, he was allowed to bring his bag of Easter candy. As we stepped outside to get into the car he swung his bag around with a classic 80’s electric guitar player with windmill enthusiasm playing the final chords of his greatest hit.
“Woohoo! I Get to Bring my CANDY!” he said with each swing. then. ploosh. The bottom of the bag gave way and his beloved candy rained down on the driveway. His enthusiasm was instantly replaced with shame. Head down. Voice soft. “My bag broke. and now my candy is dirty. I can’t have it anymore” I assured him that the jelly beans and malted chocolate balls were still fine, they wouldn’t stick to any dirt and we could easily put them in another bag. He put the broken bag inside the new bag I gave him because: Rule: the Easter candy goes in the Easter bag (even if it’s broken), not the Valentine’s bag. We recovered most of the candy and got on our way but he was still sullen. “I wish bags were made out of metal so they would never break” “My candy was on the ground. It will never be the same.” “My bag is broken. It will never be the same.”
This “never being the same again” is something I see both of my children and myself struggling with.
On one long car trip my daughter was carefully coloring a picture for Grandma with markers. She was being so thorough and meticulous – I was proud of her. She usually rushes through things, her ADHD getting the best of her. But then – screams of horror. Her hyper focus on getting every last bit of picture colored in had weakened the page and the markers made the damp paper rip. Her beautiful picture was ruined. “There’s other pages” I assured her, “There’s plenty of time to color another one”. “But it won’t be the same!! It can never be the same!” Even finding a duplicate of the same picture in the book was not enough. That picture. That one. was forever ruined and could never be brought back to it’s potential glory.
It is a sad sad thing to watch your children experience. I absolutely hate it. If I could take one thing away for them, it might just be that.