An adult's recollections upon experiencing childhood with Asperger's Syndrome.
|Playtime was mostly difficult with other children. That much I do remember. While the other boys wanted to play cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers, I wanted to explore more complex realms of fantasy. I found the usual childhood games to be too insipidly simple. Of course, my abnormal emotional extremes and distorted sensory perceptions- both of which emerged from the complex ensemble of a vibrant inner world of Asperger’s Syndrome, made me seem somewhat peculiar to the other children. Most of the children that I encountered regarded me as a screwball to be derided. Some were actually afraid of me. And a rare few found my eccentricities curiously refreshing.
Having found most human relationships therefore unpleasant, I began turning to solitary interests such as drawing, designing, reading, and writing. This occurred at an early age, when proper social development would have been most pivotal. But I was frightened of a world that made little sense to me. A world in which I had total control meant an absence of anxiety. However, it was also a lonely universe of one. As a result, I would occasionally venture out to make friends, only to later return to my lonely world- hurt or disappointed by some biting remark or offense.
I began acting out my childhood fantasies, as most children will when left to their own machinations. I had an imaginary friend during my preschool years. His name was Simon and he was a skeleton. In fact, that was his given name-Simon Skeleton. And although his physical appearance may have been slight, his character was anything but. Simon was quite sophisticated and knew many things about many subjects.
Simon and I had lots of fun together. Sometimes we would build forts in the bedroom out of pillows, chairs, and blankets-much to my mother’s chagrin. My mother frowned upon imaginative play, as it had a tendency to detract from established household order.
Simon Skeleton and I would sometimes venture into the underbrush of the lower back yard. It was here that I would encounter an assortment of imaginary accomplices. Lolly the Dragon, Polkie the Scarecrow, Olga the Ogre, and a witch who lived in a tree castle-these are the ones that come to mind. I imagined that these characters lived secretively in The Dead Woods, which lay adjacent to the northern side of the back yard. It would not be until I was much older that I mustered the courage to venture into this dreaded place-The Dead Woods.
The Dead Woods had been used many decades before as a dumping ground for dead or diseased livestock. A narrow dirt road had run through what would eventually be the edge of the back yard. During the winter months, when the brush died back, one could make out the roads former parameters. The forgotten road lay between two hills that comprised our back yard and that of a neighbor’s on a parallel street.
The back yard was never used for much. During certain summers, my parents used the lower flat part, which had been the road, as a vegetable garden. The soil there was rich and dark. Evidently, the stories of dead animals were true. My father had unearthed many different bones during his initial plowing to set the garden.
When the back yard wasn’t being used as vegetable garden, it was an enchanted kingdom. Simon Skeleton served as my best friend and confidant. He lived in our cellar and wasn’t afraid of The Dead Woods.
Lolly was a female dragon who could have easily ruled the woods with her great size and strength, yet she was content to pick flowers and play with butterflies.
Polkie the Scarecrow was a playful comic who kept me entertained with jokes and songs. Yet, at night, he watched over the yard and kept everyone safe.
The witch, and her henchman Olga the Ogre, played the quintessential antagonists in my fantasies. She was always seeking to capture me and lock me in her tree castle, for some unknown purpose. Olga would pursue me, at the witch’s behest, but he was not very bright and Simon Skeleton would always find some way to outwit him.
I am certain each character represented something about me or my environment at the time. As Francisco De Goya wrote “the sleep of reason produces monsters”. Fortunately, most of my monsters were friendly. They helped my mind make sense of the chaotic outer world that assailed my senses.
I’m certain that in some way, Simon and the others are still somehow with me. Our childhood friends never leave us completely-they just hide in the cellars of our minds and play in the enchanted forests of our hearts.