I Exist!

 

I recall 8th Grade being my most torturous year in High School.

I would usually walk the few miles to school as I enjoyed the private time and it also gave me time to prepare for the horror of another day of confinement as well as the anxiety at the hands of my tormentors.

The dread built up slowly during my walk to school and became terror as I turned the corner and saw the school building.

 

As I have mentioned before, my memory of High school has a lot of gaps, in part because it was almost completely devoid of any positive social interaction

  • I have been told by those who do have happy memories of High school, that it is time spent with friends that is often the most memorable

Yet my memories of 8th Grade are more vivid than any other High School year!

  • I can recall the layout of the Home room, the color of the desks, the chalk boards and the smell of the timber framed building

Although immature for my age, typical for an Autistic kid, I had sufficient emotional awareness to realize that I had been utterly socially rejected by everyone in Grade 8.

I knew that I was despised, even hated by some, but I didn’t understand why. What had I done ‘wrong’? Was it my hair, was I too tall, too skinny, too clever?

Was I just ugly!?

 

I remember living out that school year in utter despair.

Although I never considered suicide as an option, it had occurred to me, as a thought experiment, that the pain of High School would likely stop if I was no longer alive.

But my survival instinct and curiosity always kept me waiting to see what was on the other side of the next breath.

There was also one brief part of every school day that I enjoyed, was alive to and enthusiastic about.

The Class register!

This was my lifeline. Once a day, every day, our Home room teacher would call out the class roll during registration.

I would sit at my desk in anticipation, barely able to contain my excitement in the certain knowledge that my name would be called out.

I had memorized the class register and would mentally recite, in time with our Home room teacher, the names of all the other children until, the sweetest sound of the school day;

MY NAME!

  • I cannot properly describe the joy that I felt, hearing my name during roll-call every morning
  • Because it was usually the only time during the school day when I would hear it spoken with any measure of civility

It was my one and only friendly greeting of the day, every morning.

It acknowledged that I was there.

It was proof that:

I EXIST!

 

Socially the school day went rapidly down hill from there, every single day.

But once a day, for a brief moment, I ‘belonged’ to something, anything, even if it was just administrative record keeping and an entry in a book.

  • For that brief moment I was not a reject, not invisible, not an object
  • I was Human, I was afforded dignity, I was acknowledged and I was an equal

 

Epilogue

Some Autistic people have unusual memories for facts and details and I am one of them.

I have remarkable recall for the tiniest of details from decades ago and yet I am regularly unable to find my keys or my wallet at home!

Although 8th Grade is now more than 30 years ago, I can still recite my Home room roll call of over 30 names as easily as I can recite the alphabet.

I am unable to do this for any other Grade, just Grade 8, which is probably an a very good indictment of how much of a lifeline that early morning, Grade 8 class roll-call was for me.

That daily High school ritual, in which I heard the sweet sound of my name, has remained locked in my long term memory.

It is my eternal reminder that in the depths of my utter despair in High school –

I EXISTED!

 

 

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joell
    May 24, 2012 @ 03:32:52

    Thank you for sharing your experiences here, Scribe. I am the mom of a 17 year old son who was diagnosed at age 5 with Asperger’s and it is to helpful to read your persective! Looking forward to reading more.

    Reply

  2. spectrumscribe
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 04:59:44

    Thank you Joell. I am glad this is helpful.

    I have a few more High school themed posts planned over the next month or so.

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Different not less « Postcards from the edge of the Spectrum
  4. Trackback: If not me, who? « Postcards from the edge of the Spectrum
  5. Michele Schwien (@MLSchwienD)
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 11:55:12

    “From our ancestors come our names, but from our virtues our honors.” – Proverb. You write with courage, justice, humanity, temperance, transcedence, and wisdom (and use great audio-visual aids).

    Reply

  6. spectrumscribe
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 00:44:11

    Thank you Michele. I always appreciate and look forward to your contributions to my posts.

    I really admire and value the way in which you manage to challenge my ideas and beliefs in a way that is singularly constructive and compassionate.

    As Spock might say: ‘I believe these are some of the core qualities of a friend’

    Reply

  7. Michele Schwien (@MLSchwienD)
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 21:30:13

    Wow. Thank you, friend. I am learning much from you.

    Reply

  8. Cecile Roux
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 04:39:02

    I love the way you write. I can actually feel the anxiety and excitement you write about wrt your name at roll call.

    Moments like that kept us going, didn’t it? And even though I don’t feel strong at all, we must have been very resilient to survive the school years, don’t you think?

    Reply

  9. Trackback: Asperger’s and invisibility « Postcards from the edge of the Spectrum
  10. Trackback: Postcards from the edge of the Spectrum
  11. Shackled and Crowned
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 16:53:15

    This was a great share. Thank you so much.

    Reply

  12. Cheryl
    Jun 29, 2013 @ 09:42:17

    I’m always so saddened and angered when I read your memories of school. Sad for you as the young boy and angered that not one person peer or adult stood beside you noticed your pain and loneliness. I’m sorry you had to go through that pain. I shall call you friend even if it is only on the web. You change lives for the better with your words. Thank you

    Reply

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