First hand understandingHeath and I watched a movie the other night, Mozart and the Whale. It was really interesting. It gave me a lot of hope for Reed's future. After all, it's about a couple of Aspies who lead productive, fairly happy lives. They work jobs, live on their own, and fall in love. It also very accurately portrayed many of his struggles. When the movie was over, Heath and I talked well into the night about it. And we came to a startling conclusion: We are both probably on the spectrum ourselves.
My beloved husband has some serious social deficiencies. We often joke about how he doesn't "play well with others". Despite his best efforts, he has a way of alienating people, rather than relating to them. Even after 8.5 years together, I don't always get him. He struggled in school, partly with the social interactions, but also quite a bit with the academics. He has a knack for numbers (although not to the extent of Josh Hartnet's character in the movie), but struggles with reading and writing (the grammar and composition, not the actual mechanics of it). When he gets frustrated, he pulls his hair. Hard. He gets really agitated if things don't go the way he scheduled them.
I also have some trouble with social interaction. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I started to be able to relate and interact with people comfortably. I am still very self conscious, because I cannot guess how people perceive me. I am excruciatingly uncomfortable with eye contact. I read this post a while back, and was nearly jumping out of my chair, yelling "Yes! Exactly!" As a child, I used to rock when I was concentrating. It helped me to focus through the noise in the house. I would sit to do my homework, and rock back and forth. It used to drive my mom nuts. "Sit still and finish your work. You'd be done by now if you'd quit squirming." She meant well. She just didn't understand that I Needed to rock in order to not hear my brother and sister running through the house, and my mom and dad talking, and the TV in the other room, and the garbage truck outside, and a thousand other noises catching my attention. I don't rock anymore, but I do have this unconscious habit of twirling my foot in a circle. All. The. Time. It even drives me nuts, but I can't stop. I nearly went insane the first week when my leg was in a cast and I couldn't move my foot. My skin started to crawl, and I was really edgy. I still have trouble with eye contact, which could explain why I've been searching for a job for over a year, but still have no job. I try to make a conscious effort to make eye contact at least occasionally, but it's hard, and I can't do it while talking or I lose my train of thought.
So there you have it. All these little things that never meant anything to us until we knew that they weren't "normal" (whatever the heck THAT is). I always thought everybody was like this. Aren't they?