My life, with Aspergers' Syndrome.
|Autism; to my mother, the word was like the Judge’s gavel pronouncing Sentence on a condemned man. To her mind, autism brought up images of people who sat in wheelchairs, drooling, staring out windows all day, in some hospital room, with no chance of living a “typical” life.
“No, it can’t be that,” she said. “My son can speak his own mind, and walk, and talk, and-“
“Miss M, I’m sorry,” the doctor said, shaking his head.
My mother took a look at me, noticing that my nose was stuck in a 300 paged book, and chuckling at what the characters were doing at the moment. To the untrained eye, the average person would think that I wasn’t paying attention, but I was. As if noticing her, I dog-eared the page and closed the book. Then I looked at her and said four words, “Mom, I’m still me.”
Those four words are probably the truest things I’ve ever said. I was twelve years old when I was diagnosed with Aspergers’ Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism. Basically, what that means is, I can do most things by myself, such as eating, using the bathroom, taking a shower, walking the dog (when she wants to), cleaning my room (when I want to), doing the dishes, microwaving food, and so on. Also, I can talk up quite the storm, but most people tend to leave after a while. I can speak my own words, and not just parrot what I’ve heard.
Now, I’ll be honest, I’m not a perfect angel. I’ve been in plenty of fights, both physical and verbal. Also, from growing up, and working, on a farm, I tended to be stronger than the average town kid, so I could both dish out, and take, more pain than they could, so I tended to hurt them more than they hurt me. However, in my mind, I was defending myself. The people I got in fights with were bullies, who, for one reason or another, would pick on me. Now, I know the difference between right and wrong, and I knew it then, but sometimes a punch was a better way, than getting a teacher, to tell the guy to not mess with me again. Of course, that didn’t work the way I wanted it to at times.
Now, here was my typical day: Get up, take a shower, eat breakfast, wait for the bus, get on bus, sit in the front seat, take a nap until the bus got to school, go to class, manage to read a book while listening to the teacher telling the class something I already knew, get on the bus, head for home, get inside my place, go to my room, and bury my head in a book and have the TV on until supper, then go to bed and do it all over again. College was similar, as I went to JCC, which is close to my place, although, instead of a bus, it was a cab that I’d call up the night before, to schedule times for pickups, and such stuff. I’ll admit this though, some of those classes had me stumped at times, and there were a few I only passed by the skin of my teeth.
I've also had to deal with the fact that my parents divorced when I was about nine years old, when I was in the second grade. Every other weekend I’d visit my father, who worked on the family farm, and after he remarried, I had to deal with step-siblings. My stepmother, whom I’ll call R, was a former nurse, and was familiar with situations similar to mine, especially since her only son, whom I’ll call N, had a condition similar to mine. However, I didn’t get along with any of them, as six children underneath one roof was just too much for me. So after I turned fifteen, I stopped visiting my father, and that side of the family, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, where I meet up with them at my Grandmother’s place. Of course, they’ve all changed, in some ways for the better, and in some ways for the worse. R is a caring mother, still cares about what I’m doing. N seems to have grown into a fine young man. My step-sisters, whom I’ll call T and S, have grown into beautiful women, who have boyfriends, and they give my dad and R some major headaches when they get some sort of driving ticket. Sometimes I wonder what’s happened to them, as they don’t live with my father and R for the most part, but then I concentrate on what’s happening to me. The next ten years look to be interesting.
Now, statistics show that one person in a hundred-fifty people will have some form of Autism. However, there was no one else in school that had it, until I was in my Senior year when some new students, who were much younger than me, started showing up. Personally, I hope they have an easier time than I did. Basically, I was like a soldier with a flamethrower, who cleared a path on an island, and had to wait twelve years for reinforcements to arrive. I cleared things for them, but it would have been easier if there was someone with me.
It wasn’t until I was about nineteen that I met up with someone, whom I’ll call Joker, who also had Aspergers Syndrome. Our parents met at a meeting, and they shared their experiences, and the next thing I knew, I was going to visit Joker. When I first met him, he was fascinated with the Joker from the Batman series, especially the Heath Ledger version, hence the reason I’m calling him Joker. Physically, he and I are nothing alike. I’m tall, somewhat beefy, with a belly, wear a thin pair of glasses and quite strong. He is short, somewhat chunky, almost blind without a thick pair of glasses, and somewhat delicate. However, he is one heck of a cook.
Also, when I went to college, my advisor told me that there were other students who had Autism in the college, so we went and set up a group. This was where I met Cards, as I’ll call him, as the guy always had some sort of gaming cards with him. We’d meet once a week and we’d talk about what was going on, like class issues, social issues, and just unwind. For two and a half years we met and used this time to just be ourselves. However, since I graduated, I haven’t seen much of him.
Recently I’ve been seeing some mentors who will, hopefully, help me out with some of my goals, which are, to get a job, make friends, and get some of my books published.