Eric's Aspie Site
Life on The Spectrum
Roots stretch through earth.. through water.. head peeks into sun.. arms reach up.. purpose smiles back down..
Childhood: Rich and Terrifying
The doctors thought I would be a premature baby. They thought I'd be undersized and probably physically unhealthy and at-risk right from the get-go. Well, they were WRONG.
My parents told me this story many times:
I was born a week later than expected and put my poor mother through 13 hours of intense labour. I was all baby---no fluid. I was much heavier and longer than they expected. The physician who delivered me, Dr. Trombley, said to my mom: "whoah! Where'd you keep all this baby?!!"
Something was a little off from the start, however. I didn't cry or open my eyes after being born. Dr. Trombley smacked my butt a couple of times, and that made my eyes open. I gave him a dirty look. Dr. Trombley: "if eyes were daggers, I'd be dead!" I then began to cry.. and never shut up after that.
It Takes a Toddler
Unlike classic autistic children, there was no apparent delay in speech on my part. I immediately grew attached to my immediate family (mom, dad, and my maternal grandparents)---that was it. Anyone else was an immediate threat and stranger. I eventually grew close to one of my cousins and looked at him as a brother (since I'm an only child). Aunts, uncles, other relatives, neighbors---they were threats (in my mind) and were to be avoided at all costs.
Elementary School: What a Nightmare
It didn't take long at all for the school to identify me as not being in the norm with other children. Back then, they only had "special ed" class rooms, "short buses," and "hearing tests" to evaluate kids like me. I was put in two of those three selections (I didn't have the privilege of riding a short bus).
The school subjected me to weekly/monthly hearing tests between kindergarten and 2nd grade (that's three years of hearing tests!). I didn't really look my teachers in the eye, and I was mostly MUTE through school, so they assumed I had hearing issues. ADHD, as a term, didn't exist back then; otherwise, I would have been tested for that, too. I had the drill down. They would take me to the nurse office to a quiet room with a chair/table and these HUGE black headphones that I had to wear on my head (still not sure how my tiny neck kept all of it in balance like it did without my head toppling off my shoulders). They no longer needed to instruct me to raise either the right hand or left hand, depending on which ear I heard the extremely LOW tone or the extremely HIGH tone or mid-range tones because I knew it all-too-well. Each time, I would ACE the hearing tests---because.. there.. was.. nothing.. wrong.. with.. my.. hearing!!!
I had extreme difficulty understanding verbal instruction/directions, and that was the norm in school back then. When they would eventually write instructions on the chalkboard or with hand-outs, I was perfectly content following the rules that way. I'm convinced some of my teachers through the years thought I was either 1) not paying attention, 2) incapable of understanding them, or 3) being rude/defiant. Well, Number Two is the winner in that list, but they never bothered to find out WHY.
I was actually quite intelligent and ahead of my peers in most regards. My parents taught me how to read, write, and arithmetic BEFORE kindergarten. I had an interest in religion (and read Revelations in the King James Bible). There was nothing wrong with my intelligence, so when they attempted to put me in a "special education" class for one week, that was met with great wrath by my parents---I was quickly put back in my normal kindergarten class---much to my teacher's (and her evil assistant's) chagrin.
Why evil? Well, ignorant may be a better term. Certainly, the teacher and her evil assistant knew I was different from the other kids. On Day One, I
didn't go where the other kids were congregated inside the class room. They were full of energy, hopping around, chattering, and quite excited to be among one another. I wasn't interested at all. I zeroed-in on the opposite side of the room.
There were two corner-piece shelves (one higher than the other) that contained two things that definitely appealed to me: dinosaur toys on the left and numerous picture/history books on the right. I went straight to the dinosaurs, first. I, unlike most kids at that age, didn't just pick one of the dinosaurs up; I went to the teacher and asked her: "can I play with a dinosaur?" Teacher: "yes." I went back to the shelf and picked up the T-Rex.
I put it down and went back to the teacher: "can I play with the other dinosaur?" Teacher: "yes." I was well aware of her (and her evil assistant) staring at me at this point, but I didn't care. I put both dinosaurs on the floor and played with them while the other kids were still chattering among themselves.
To my teacher's credit, at least she did notice something was.. odd.. about a kid who wasn't interested in playing with the other kids. I'm sure she thought it was equally odd that this kid was so polite and formal. She was the reason I was moved into the special education class and subjected to hearing tests. That's all they had at the time. When my parents insisted I be put back in the "normal" class (after a heated parent-teacher conference where the teacher also insisted I was too young for kindergarten and should be held back one year), I was almost immediately. I was mistreated (especially by the evil assistant) from that moment on (talked to more harshly than the other kids, mostly).
I was predominantly MUTE through school---all the way up to high school. There were a few instances where I had a playground "friend" that i would latch onto, but there really were no true friends for me while growing up. My parents TRIED to get me to associate with/play with the other kids in our neighbourhood, but I would lock-up and couldn't really carry on any semblance of a conversation with them.
From kindergarten through 2nd grade, I was forced to endure field trips every so often. I never knew where we were going at the time.. just that it was a sudden change in environment, distance, and people (e.g. my routine was suddenly disrupted). Without going into detail, let's just say my poor little body couldn't handle the trauma and would relieve itself of any pressure it could---every single time.
Kids normally don't ostracize one another during those early years as much as they do in middle and high school. Teachers, on the other hand, DO. My 2nd grade teacher spanked me once (in front of the class - I have NO idea exactly why except that I couldn't understand her instructions for the in-class assignment and simply asked for further instruction) and picked me up/slammed me down on the cafeteria table/bench (because I refused to eat sweet potatoes - hated the texture). The funny result of that last incident was that I PUKED on the table in front of the other kids---which kicked-off a chain reaction---one kid after the other started puking, too.
In 3rd grade (different school), I had another teacher who didn't understand me. When he wouldn't let me leave class to use the restroom, I simply PEED in my desk/on the floor in front of everyone. It wasn't defiance. I was full of anxiety and really needed to GO.
I was punched in the stomach while in lunch line by another kid---for absolutely NOTHING. I was simply standing there, minding my own business, as usual.
From kids' perspectives, anyone who is not MOVING like they do, TALKING like they do, LOOKING at what they look at, DRESSING like they do.. well, that kid will either be ostracized/teased or physically bullied/teased. Sometimes, a bit of both. That's what it was like for me in the new school.
The school had several huge rubber tires (from construction vehicles) in the playground, and a couple of my classmates held my head against one of the tires for about a minute and wouldn't let me back up. I never knew which one's did it, but when I reported it to the teacher, she dismissed it, and the class laughed at me.
I did have ONE great teacher in 4th grade who was a very sympathetic/empathetic human being and took a liking/pity on me. He would let me take some of his books home to read (I still have a couple of them---um... oops!).
For me, there were two lives: 1) safe, calm, same HOME and 2) horrific, traumatic, volatile SCHOOL. I dreaded going to school all the way up until I graduated from high school.
Middle School: It Only Gets Worse
I was considerably underweight compared to my peers by this age (we all did weigh-ins for our physical education class). The average boy in class was in the 90lb range; I was in the 60lb range. The other kids' reactions were noticeable even to me (comments like "whoah" "he's skinny"). I really wasn't that "into" food because of the textures, and I never really had much of an appetite in school for obvious, stressful reasons. Lunch rooms were much like they show on prison films where cliques, teasing, isolating, etc. happened regularly. The sooner I could finish and get OUT, the better.
I was, again, bullied because I was QUIET and DIFFERENT. I had someone grab hold of my nose in gym (same kid continuously teased me throughout the year); another kid put me in a headlock for NO reason in the locker room; a group of boys put me in one of those pushing circles and took my book (like you see on TV) for NO reason; I was laughed at in wrestling because I was so uncoordinated and couldn't apply a simple double-leg takedown on my wrestling partner.
We moved on average ever 2 years (calculates to 1.8 years, to be exact), and I changed schools far too often for someone like me to endure. Just when I was accustomed to a routine (e.g. walk exact same path to bus, to class, through hallway, to lockers; sit in same chair in class, same seat in bus, same table in lunch room; be somewhat familiar with the other kids and environment), I was suddenly thrust into a completely new environment---instant ANXIETY.
As I mentioned earlier, I was mostly MUTE while in school. I would talk away at home, however. I would rattle-off things I'd learned while watching my favourite TV shows. I would play the same records (usually one specific song on each record) repeatedly.. for HOURS.. then DAYS.. then WEEKS.. I would try to match the vocals of my favourite singers (namely, Gene Autry and Chuck Berry). Boy, did I love soundtracks! Grandma also introduced me to Luciano Pavarotti and other classical music. Always, there was sound of some kind in the background while I was home: TV or the record player. Never was it silent. If there WAS silence (e.g. bedtime), I would listen to every odd sound until I finally went to sleep.
My parents had to sneak me to the movie theater/drive-ins. See, if they so much as whispered that we were going to the show that day, I would become so excited that I would PUKE instantly. The thought of going to the show was such a great, exciting thing for me (because I loved movies so much) that my little body couldn't handle it---POOF! There's my parents cleaning up after me, again. I finally broke that years later; I simply told myself to STOP, and I stopped.
Early Adulthood: not as bad
I'm still building this section - these are notes By this point in my life, physical bullying finally stopped. I started body building, and that helped build confidence. I started learning Martial Arts, and that helped build confidence.
The first two years of High School were
High School - not as bad as Middle School
By this point in my life, physical bullying at finally stopped. I started body building, and that helped build confidence.
Friendship - finally
Adulthood: it does get better
This page is being rebuilt - 8/7/17
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