The Beginning

1st Postcard from the edge of the Spectrum.

My story begins as a curious young child in the 60s.

I was fascinated with the physical world, was a voracious reader of science books and was obsessed with world maps.

I remember my first day at Elementary school.

My mother led me into my classroom where I saw my future classmates, playing in a sand pit and/or covered in finger paint.

I was both confused and horrified that they weren’t just sitting down and reading, being read to, or doing math.

I remember whispering to my mother that I thought I was in the wrong place, which she casually dismissed with a ‘you’ll get used to it.’

I never did get used to it and in little more than a year, the school referred me to a Clinical Psychologist for being disruptive.

My mother took me to the Clinic, in a building which also housed ‘The Annex’, which today would be called the Special Education Center.

I had heard stories about ‘The Annex’ (some from my mother!) and I was absolutely terrified. Once again, it seemed like I was in the wrong place.

After a brief interview with the attending Clinical Psychologist, I was given some tests.

My IQ scored in the top percentile and my behavior was ‘explained’ as a gifted child’s natural response to boredom.

My parents then arranged for me to see a private Math tutor one evening a week and I was soon solving problems using logarithms, simultaneous equations, geometry and trigonometry. I was 6 years old.

Not surprisingly, there was nothing my school could offer me in the way of teaching and so I was given my own table, at the back of the class, where I self studied the curriculum text books from several grades above my age group. To this day, independent self-study is my preferred method of learning.

 

A few years later I had settled into a new school where I was top of the class in Math, Science and French (which is not my native language).

  • I was close to bottom of the class in English, which is my native language!

I was the only one who seemed to notice this glaring inconsistency in a young boy who, in the words of his French teacher, ‘had the gift of being able to see through languages’ and yet was struggling miserably in his native language!

I remember my mother recounting to me how one of my teachers had told her that my ‘comprehension is nil.’ But still the penny just couldn’t seem to drop, with either my teachers or my parents.

This would be the first of many developmental red flags which today would be a clear indicator of a possible Autism Spectrum Condition/Disorder.

But it was the 70s and nobody, including me, seemed to be able to see past my IQ.

To be continued……

 

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that delays or impairs

  • Communication and social skills
  • Behavior skills
  • Learning skills

Although there is no known cure for autism, early intervention and treatment can help children develop these skills and can add considerably to the quality of their life and the lives of their families.

I was in my 40s when I discovered I have Asperger’s Syndrome.

I managed to more or less overcome most of my Autistic challenges through sheer intellectual brute force, but even that wasn’t enough to prevent my lifelong social isolation which would likely have been absolute if I had not had the good fortune to have married in my 20s.

It is my hope that you and/or your loved ones and others on the Autism Spectrum benefit from the earlier intervention that I missed.

But however old you are, know this. It is never too late.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. smuggybunny
    Sep 22, 2012 @ 01:43:58

    I had a special education plan from third grade to fifth grade, and it was a lot like yours. I studied on my own in class for most of the school day. I call it the Leave Me Alone Education Plan. It was great.

    Reply

  2. spectrumscribe
    Sep 22, 2012 @ 02:46:26

    It was great as it gave me more time to myself.

    In first grade I would look up from my books periodically, and watch in bewilderment, from the back of the classroom, as the other kids struggled with math tables and fractions.

    A few years later they were probably looking at me the same way when my impaired social intuition became more noticeable!

    Reply

  3. Michele Schwien (@MLSchwienD)
    Sep 22, 2012 @ 11:01:53

    Thank you for sharing your story, which helps fine-tune the effectiveness of earlier intervention. I recognized something was different with my son, but for years doctors dismissed me as just a worrying first-time mother. i knew at 2 years old, but didn’t get diagnosis until almost 7. It’s never too late – or too early.

    Reply

  4. spectrumscribe
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 02:37:51

    I was assessed when I was 6, a generation before Asperger’s entered the DSM – so they were only able to identify intellectual giftedness.

    I sometimes wonder how things would have turned out for me, if I had received just a little bit of formal academic accommodation?

    There is a lot of trait overlap between High functioning Autism and Intellectual giftedness (will be blogging about that), so I suspect there might have been some crossover benefit with my Autism too.

    It is great to hear stories about children getting early Autism and/or giftedness diagnoses, especially when they are given the appropriate social and/or academic accommodations. Although even today, this is not always the case.

    Reply

  5. nikki
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 10:20:11

    Thanks for sharing, I am really pleased to have discovered this blog, very interesting, your view and experiences and I especially like the international section. Where are you though ? I am in Australia, mother of a 7 yo w Aspergerger’s but also ADHD and odd DX last year ( I do not agree w the ODD tho) I have just revived my blog and will try to find out more about the situation in France, where I lived for 10 years and things are only VERY slowly moving now out of a situation that seems shockingly backward and cruel. I am also planning to look a little bit into the germanophon countries. Will link when I have interesting results if you like.
    Keep up the good work ! X

    Reply

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