Those of you who have been following my blog know that I have an autistic older brother. Mike is nonverbal and low functioning. There weren’t many kids like Michael in my home town. After my mother and father, with other parents, started a school for children who were not able to function in the school system, I saw lots of kids similar to Mike.
We’re so not alike
Mike was so unlike me, I never thought that we had anything in common, even though we have the same parents. Science tells us today, that the severity of autism can vary quite a bit. In fact, autism is known as ASD, autism spectrum disorder, which describes individuals who function at a very low level, like Michael, to those who are highly functional.
When I became reacquainted with Mike at his group home about 25 years ago, I began visiting him regularly. I was a bit disconcerted that residents and counselors alike told me that I look exactly like Michael. I didn’t think so.
I don’t know about you, but if someone says something I strongly disagree with, the possibility that this abhorrent idea might be true, creeps into my thoughts. What if I actually do look like Michael? Are there other traits that we have in common? Could I have a touch of autism myself?
Evidence in favor:
1) I was always terrible in social situations. I was always self-conscious and could never function well socially.
2) I take things literally. Do you know how many of these coupons I have? There is no out-date, so I assume they’re to be kept in perpetuity.
3) I like the sound of some words, and the rhythm of some phrases; when I’m by myself, I repeat them. Sometimes I repeat them when I’m with my wife, to show her how cool they sound. She’s usually not amused.
4) I’m not so good at detecting sarcasm.
5) I’m easily distracted.
1) I spoke at a very early age and always wanted to be helpful.
2) I am sensitive to emotions of others; perhaps hypersensitive and preemptively sensitive to moods and emotions that I thing others have.
3) I am not routine-bound.
4) I am very good at detecting irony.
I am unique
I have cultivated a way to look at things differently than others. Whether through use of language and puns, or a unique solution to a problem, I take pride in thinking non-conventionally. Perhaps this is my way, as a neurotypical (NT) person, of honoring those who are on the autism spectrum and are in fact neuro atypical, and can’t help thinking and acting differently.
I spoke at an early age too! But I spoke so fast (very enthusiastic about everything) that I needed a bit of speech therapy :L and I’m quite a sensitive plant too and some say I’m a little shy. Perhaps they are autistic traits and we’re all on the spectrum somewhere which is plausible I guess, where does the spectrum end? And both me and my brother share the same sour face look when we’re angry 😛
I agree that autistic traits are probably very common. However, I also think that there are physical differences between those on the spectrum and neurotypicals. Psychiatry is in the dark ages now and, with no objective testing, a spectrum is the best that can be done at the moment.
As always, I appreciate your comments, Hannah. Thanks.
Perhaps we’re self conscious because of how we were brought up and our family lives though?
Agreed (about the self consciousness bit).