I recently went out with a group of friends/coworkers for an event. It was related to one of my special interests and great fun. We often carpool when we go to things like this, and on the way back, there was a conversation going on in the car, in which one of the 4 of us was being incredibly sarcastic. This person is quite often sarcastic, and we have a hard time communicating, since we’re often speaking 2 different languages (English and Sarcasm). I made some comment about needing a sarcasm sign whenever she said something sarcastic, just like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. Another person in the car, one who is a licensed psychologist, and who has known me for almost 2 years then commented “E, I think you probably have some type of Autism, on the high-functioning end of the spectrum. I could confirm that if I had just a little bit of information about you as a child.”
Of course, I’m thinking (sarcastically) “gee, Sherlock, how’d you figure that one?” – I don’t go out of my way to tell people that I am Autistic, but I don’t go out of my way to hide it that much (anymore), either. But I was thinking “yeah, and I could tell you everything you need to know about me as a child, and then some…” And so, just for grins, I thought I’d share a few of those things that I did as a child that could be both diagnostic and sometimes amusing. Some of these are my recollections, however many of them are things my mother has told me about more recently (within the last 10 years). These all pertain to me when I was a very young child, mostly before I started kindergarten, though many of them are still true today. The list is by no means exhaustive (got 4-8 hours to read a nearly 50,000 word ramble? It’s been written…), but it does include some entertaining anecdotes. Enjoy!
- When I was a little baby, I rarely cried. My mother tells me that when she went to go check on me after naps, when I’d been down for hours without a peep, that she would walk in and discover me awake, entertaining myself, even when I was only a few weeks/months old
- I would refuse to leave my crib/bed until after I had folded my blankets and lined up my stuffed animals just so. This was (apparently) completely my own design – my mother claims she never did this for me, so I wasn’t just following her lead. If she removed me before the ritual was done, there would be a meltdown.
- I was a premie baby (though not by much), born at just over 5 pounds. I lacked the reflex to turn my head and latch on when my cheek was stroked. And I HATED eating. They almost admitted me to the hospital for “failure to thrive” on several occasions. Even as I got older, I was very picky about food. This is a subject for another post, but let’s just say that food was a constant battle growing up. My mother likes to attribute my dislike of food and difficulties eating to my prematurity. I’m sure that it’s probably a combination of both that and Autism.
- I taught myself to read in preschool. And not just preschool type books. I could read easy chapter books by the time I was 4 or 5, and I read Lord of the Rings in 2nd grade, because I was bored.
- I was held back in preschool (repeated an extra year) because I was socially behind (despite the fact that I was well beyond my “peers” in terms of academics, and could’ve easily placed into 2nd or 3rd grade).
- I was both hyperlexic and echolalic. I would often simply recite phrases and sentences from my books in. Additionally, I would (and often still do) use pedantic language and large words to communicate. This made my peers hate me, because when I spoke, they didn’t understand most of my vocabulary. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV, so I didn’t script from that, but I often scripted from my parents’ conversations. I used to get told I was like a dictionary.
- Drinking milk was one of the worst things ever for me. I am so picky about textures (especially of foods) that I cannot tolerate ANY milkfat in my milk. It gives it a texture I can’t deal with. Even 1% is too much. I don’t drink milk anymore, but when I was a child, I would only tolerate skim milk. And I could *always* tell. And there was often a meltdown if I was required to drink the wrong kind of milk.
- I was (am) a toe-walker, and I refused to walk around without socks on. Except I was very picky about the socks – they couldn’t have a seam that hit the front of my toes. It had to fall exactly where my toes met my foot.
- Every time a motorcycle went by me or my house, I would melt down completely, and be inconsolable. I HATED the noise they made. (Who am I kidding – I STILL flinch/jump when motorcycles go by. I have a really hyperactive startle reflex.)
- I was very particular about being on time to and from things. If my mother was even a few minutes late picking me up or dropping me off, I would panic.
- I really despised being messy. Playing in the mud/dirt/sand/etc was awful for me, and I would always insist on cleaning up immediately. (Ironically now some of my research involves mud)
- I would often spin around in circles, staring up at the ceiling or sky. I had a lot of other stims as well. I did this little bouncy thing that involved flapping and/or clapping when I was excited, and when I was upset, there was rocking and flapping. Bouncing usually meant happy, while rocking meant distressed.
- I lived for lining up things in order. Sometimes it was rainbow order, sometimes alphabetical order, and sometimes times it was just my internal order. I lined up blocks, books, stuffed animals, markers, crayons, and anything else I could get my hands on. My mom has a bunch of pictures of me when I was little proudly displaying my long lines of various things, with a huge grin on my face.
- I really didn’t relate to my age-group peers. They said I didn’t play right. I thought my peers didn’t play “properly” – they never followed my rules! (and they didn’t use words like “properly” either.)
- I was incredibly klutzy. Like, trip over my own feet, fall up the stairs, break glasses several shelves above my head, walk into doors and doorframes kind of klutzy. It’s a miracle I didn’t break any bones or require any stitches when I was little! I certainly had enough accidents… (And I still am incredibly klutzy. I trip up the stairs at least once per day, usually more than once. I’ve gotten to the point where I can usually laugh about it, though.)
- I have known what I wanted to be since I was 4. I have been able to accurately articulate it properly since I was 7. And I have spent my whole life devouring books and other resources learning more about it. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. I used to, and still can, monologue ad nauseum (for everyone else) about my special interests. In fact, now sometimes I even get paid to do so!
And my absolute favorite:
- People used to call me a “walking, talking encyclopedia”, because I knew tons of random things and they could nearly always count on me to have the answer to what they were looking for (and if I didn’t, I would unabashedly say “I don’t know that”). Oh wait, they still do. 🙂
This list could go on for a very long time (and in fact, when I was first discovering Autism, I wrote a 40 page, single spaced, size 10 font document describing all of my autistic traits in list form – talk about perseverating!) Ironically, despite all of that, my mother tells me I was nearly a textbook baby, and met all my milestones “exactly on time” (for whatever that means), except maybe talking. She hasn’t ever really discussed my speech development timeline with me, except that she used to tell me I walked and talked around the same time, but then later rescinded that to say I talked well after I was already walking. I do not have any external confirmation of either of these, and do not know which is true. Anyway, I thought that people (both those on the spectrum, and parents of those on the spectrum) could probably relate to at least a few of these. What are some of the things you or your kids did when you/they were little?
I labeled this as “part 1” because I’m sure there will be more posts like this. I do not have a series planned at this time, though.