Autism

Not sure if this will ever go public.

I’ve learned a lot about autism by listening to adults with autism and watching Temple Grandin. See my previous post HERE.

Autism is a spectrum. I don’t consider it a disorder and autistic people are all very different. Saying someone is autistic means almost nothing, but most people think autistics have a personality disorder. People frequently mistake autism for narcissism, an autistic person knows the difference. Autism appears a lot like PTSD. Or High Anxiety (Great movie.)

My life up until sometime in my late 20’s was hard, very hard. Autism combined with atheism was a really strange life. I rarely spoke to anyone, including my parents. My only friend was my grandmother. Without her, I would have gone crazy. I seriously thought my parents were going to take me to Indianapolis and put me in the Central State Hospital. CLICK HERE. Every time we went to Indy on US40 we drove by the place. I lived in fear of everything. One of my biggest fears was being called on in school. I sat in class waiting for the bell to ring. No friends although I was invited to play baseball because they needed one more player. Not sure I ever enjoyed baseball but that story can wait. While others went to the Christmas event in the gym I was sent to the library to annoy the librarian. She never spoke to me. My most persistent memory from school was someone telling me I was the most obnoxious person they had ever met. Always having all the answers in geometry class was probably the reason. The class valedictorian and most popular girl in school approached me one day and said she knew I hated her. I had no idea why she would think that. She never spoke to me again and I was too terrified of her to ask her anything.

People with autism usually like to do things on their own. I became best friends with the IBM 1130 computer in the basement of Holmstedt Hall at Indiana State University and ended up making $7 an hour writing statistical programs for a research lab. No teamwork was necessary. I spent my life writing computer programs and managing mainframe operating systems. My working life was a fun time and solitary most of the time.

Sometime in my twenties, a counseling psychologist I was connected with asked me if she could practice giving me tests. Personality tests, IQ tests, etc. Sure. No time limit, no fellow test-takers, no scores. Fun. The strangest was watching people through a one-way mirror and grading their behavior. Strange test.

Later she said that she thought I had a personality that made it hard for me to deal with people and with practice I could change people’s perceptions. Really? I felt like she taught me to be an actor of sorts. She started asking me to parties to meet people … sneaky little thing that she was … and another counseling psychologist started talking to me about this “personality problem”. I learned to deal with people. I’m still an actor but sometimes I forget and make mistakes. Every time I have a conversation with someone I end up at home running it over and over in my head trying to think what mistakes I made.

It strikes me as extremely odd that an autistic person would write about or talk about themselves. From some of the people I’ve listened to it seems like they really enjoy being autistic and are proud of themselves. Maybe they didn’t have my childhood.

I often wonder if people notice my autism or if they just think I’m crazy. I never know if it shows. The lack of eye contact? The habit of watching the same shows over and over? What appears to be obsessive behavior? But most people only think about themselves so I doubt anyone ever notices.

One of those psychologists killed herself. The other lives in New Mexico. I consider myself, most times, lucky to be alive.

Author: stephen d mccloud

Retired

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