Saturday, April 2, 2016

Autism and the National Month

All my life, I've known people on the Asperger's side of the Autism spectrum. I just didn't know it. I didn't even know there was a thing until maybe early in this century. I don't even know if it's such a good thing that I know it now. We can all be shoved into one syndrome or another. 

Me, I dress very carelessly. So carelessly apparently, that people, shocked, will say, "What the fuck are you wearing?" Their shock shocks me. Someday my wardrobe blindness will get slapped with a name, and a syndrome.  Which will make me less me and more that.

I've had friends throughout my life who displayed some classic Asperger's traits -- wouldn't look me in the eye, for example. But I just learned, when we talked, to look at some other corner of the room. Of course, I'd always slip up;  still do -- and find them looking at me and our eyes will lock, and his (usually his) focus will fly to some other place, ceiling or floor, and mine back to my corner. No big deal.

And other stuff. I had a friend, Mr. M, who would do anything on my behalf. Look after my house when I was away on business, take care of the plants, pick me up from the airport, tend to the animals. But when I brought up my feelings after my father died, he immediately changed the subject to one of his Caltech projects, or tennis. 

At first, that one bothered me. But later, I reconsidered. Maybe he was right -- I shouldn't dwell on the death-thing so much. And the tennis did make me feel better.

Sometimes we played doubles. He hated to be on my doubles team. Because while Mr. M just wanted to get in a serve well enough to start the rally and secure the point, I wanted to hit a serve that left everyone stunned and amazed. My serve often missed.

And again this just relates to Mr. M, because I'm sure this varies with anyone categorized with Asperger's, but he didn't have a sense of irony. Not my irony, in any case; and would take what I said way too literally. So then I'd find myself trying to explain something I said and get all tangled up in it and end up with, "We're down 40-Love, M, but watch this."

And he'd be like,"Well, if you must." 

Today is either National Autism Acceptance or National Autism Awareness Month, depending on which side of the controversy you fall. It is a controversy, in case you don't know. Some Autism advocacy groups have a problem with what you call it.

On my side -- I guess I prefer acceptance; but what's to accept?  We're good. We always have been.