WHY DON’T YOU?

I have a few people in my life who I e-mail every Sunday. They all live a distance away and I seldom see them in person. I call the e-mail “my weekly”. It is in my routine to draft it throughout the week and send the final draft on Sunday. If they were not to get “my weekly”, I would like to think they would check up on me since it would take something drastic like an internet outage or me on my backside not to publish my weekly report.

I often write to them about my Autism. I remind them that when I write about one of my traits or symptoms, I don’t mean that neurotypicals don’t ever do that or have that. The difference is the intensity and frequency.

One of the questions on an Autism test is: Are you reluctant to ask for help? You betcha!

I am not reluctant some of the time or reluctant on more difficult tasks. I am reluctant on any task or project at any time. I want to do it on my own!!! I only give in when I am “at my absolute wit’s end!”

Recently I had one of those “at my wit’s end” moments.

I had a sick recliner for a few weeks. This is extra bad for me since the recliner for all intents and purposes is my bed. Sleep issues are another common autism trait. At the push of a button, it will recline backward and forward. That works great when the button is “blue”. It went “dark” which means “no can do”. At least, the button went black when the recliner was in the “recline” position.

I lifted it up from the back numerous times to see where the loose wire was. This had happened before and the cause was always an unplugged wire. But this time I couldn’t find any such animal. It was hard to see since I had one hand occupied with holding the chair up. I gave up and decided to try to conquer the problem another day.

Well, that another day came after it was one of those thoughts that kept me up half the night. I wasn’t planning on it but the notion to try again came to me right after I got up. This time I detected a loose wire but I couldn’t figure out where its home was. Again, holding up the heavy recliner while conducting a search was an obstacle. I heard my 86-year-old Mom come home from the store. This was “at my wit’s end” moment. I said HER familiar words to me: I need your help. My Mom didn’t give my typical response when she says it which is “Oh, no.” HA!!!!!!!!!!!

My Mom saved the day without lifting a muscle! She just said the magic words: Why don’t you turn the recliner on its side? Sure I thought “why didn’t I think of that”. My autistic brain does have “light bulb” moments but they tend to come on a delayed basis. It is not uncommon for me to first tackle a problem using the hardest method. By trying my Mom’s excellent suggestion, I had two free hands to work with. In less than a minute, I had reunited the two ends and plugged ’em in. The button got its “blue” light back.

Just another moment of living on the Spectrum with a sense of humor intact.

UP TO MY NECK

In my retirement years, my vacation is sitting with family members at their homes. My primary responsibility is caring for their beloved critters. Dogs mostly but I do occasionally take care of a cat and a rabbit. One of those I housesit for has a beautiful house that is not lacking in space inside or out. It comes with a number of luxuries, one of which is a swimming pool.

On my last gig, my third one at this house, I took advantage of the pool for the first time. The only reason I even tried to go swimming was that I had the means (a pool) and total privacy. My hurdle to get over was something many of my fellow autistics can relate to which is sensitivity. I am sensitive to light, noise, and changes in water temperature. For instance, I am reluctant to step into the shower but after I do and adjust to the water temperature, I am equally reluctant to come out of the shower. The last time I did a gig at this house, I did try to dip in their pool but I got up to as far as my knees. Even though I knew if I would just stick it out for a minute or so, my body would adjust to the water temperature. But there’s one thing about my Autism and my logic: they seldom agree.

The reason this time was different was because of the heat wave that not only gripped the immediate area but a goodly portion of the entire country. It was so hot outside that the water was within my range of toleration. I slowly went down step by step into the pool. At last, I made it to where the water was up to my neck. I had finally accomplished something that I hadn’t done in at least thirty years.

What happened next? It started misting RAIN! I kid you not. There had not been so much as a raindrop for days on end until immediately after I succeeded in getting up to my neck in the pool. I thought, “You got to be kidding me!”

Well, fortunately, it stopped misting rain before I gave up and got out of the pool.

Then, I started swimming. Hm? My first thought was I didn’t remember swimming to be so labor-intensive. Swimming was definitely more fun as a kid. But once I try something and I’m okay with it or even like it, I will more likely than not do it again. My swimming considerably improved on my second day. It was as if my swimming muscles were saying, “It’s all come back to me now.”

CUT TO PERFECTION

My Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) doesn’t do naptime or bedtime. I would like to have naptime but my ASD plays interference. I have to settle for getting sleep when I can get it. That is usually somewhere between midnight and eleven a.m.

Since I moved back home after retiring, I’m my elderly Mom’s sidekick and I jokingly tell her I work for her now.  She is supposed to laugh when I say that.  In addition to being her dishwasher, bank accountant, launderer, and trash detail, I am her yard keeper. I took it over from my brother and he didn’t seem to mind a bit. I volunteered for the yard because I look at mowing, edging, and trimming as a “get to” rather than a “got to”. I have my ASD to thank for that.

Obsessions are common among the ASD family. One of mine is with gadgets.  If it can run on electricity, battery, or gas, it will get my attention. Power cords, strips, and batteries are necessities in my bedroom to run three computers, three TVs, a microwave, two mini-fridges, well, too many things to mention. My room resembles a well-used attic than a bedroom.

Well, my “gadgetitis” is the reason I am all in with yard care. In no time after I became the house yard keeper, I added to my ever-growing gadget collection a battery-operated hedge clipper and edger and an electric leaf blower.  No one was more pleased than my younger brother who hasn’t raked a leaf, trimmed a bush, or mowed the yard since I arrived on the scene.

I’ve come across many Autism information websites that tell me something I live every day:  perfectionism is very common among people with autism.  I kid you not, it is an exhausting trait to live with.  On the positive side, it has earned me heaps of praise from family, colleagues, and friends for a job thoroughly and well done.

My drive for perfection lengthens my time with my yard tools.  I’m not finished with the clippers until the bushes are trimmed to a tee. Before I turn the mower off, I am on the lookout for any strip of grass left standing. If I can see it, no matter how small, no matter how far, I will go over to it and mow it down.

An unmowed strip of grass on a lawn I just mowed is out of sync! Overgrown bushes drive me nuts too. It’s like A-B-D-C to me. Out of pattern. It will bug me until I remove the eyesore.

I react the same to tiny weeds or grass sticking out of the sidewalk cracks or curb. It just bugs me! I will use shears or even my own hands to get rid of grass growing where it isn’t wanted. After I’m done, the curb is back to A-B-C-D!

I will not put the lawnmower in its resting place until the yard looks like a smooth-like work of art.  I usually follow up the next day with the edger to go after the weeds that hug the fence. If I see any weeds or blades of grass sticking up like a sore thumb, they are done for.  I won’t say to myself, “I’ll catch ’em next time.”

My drive for perfection goes with me when I take on the alley behind the yard fence.  I use my weed eater instead of the lawnmower since it is a small area.  My neighbors would probably all agree unanimously that I give my portion of the alleyway the trimmest haircut in the neighborhood.  The weeds don’t stand a chance against my ASD! I admit I overdo it but that doesn’t stop me from doing so. I can’t help that inner drive within me to cut to perfection.

MY SURPRISING RESCUERS

My favorite comedian, Michael McCreary, “You Don’t Look Autistic”, posted:

Gas Pump: See the cashier inside for your receipt.

Me: Absolutely not!

I laughed because I see myself doing the same. I wish I didn’t have an anxiety pang that just automatically drops in on me when I drop in at a customer service desk, pharmacy counter, deli-meat-bakery-counter, etc.

What is there to fear? An unforeseen question that stumps me. One I could answer if known beforehand or given time to think before answering. More so, a long wait. I’ve had meltdowns from such.

Recently, the scene of an anxiety attack was the grocery store pharmacy. It wasn’t the first time either at this place. I dread picking up prescriptions because there is always the possibility of a wait. So it is already a given for me to walk into the store with some level of trepidation. But this time, I initially breathed a sigh of relief when just one customer was being waited on at the counter.

It was a customer with a long list of items. The pharmacy clerk’s eyes were peeled to the computer screen. I was never in his line of vision. The customer had plenty of questions such as when she would get this med, the cost, etc. The waiting was worse because I was walking on a sprained ankle and the pain of standing was worse than walking on it.

The customer turned back at me and said, “I’m sorry.” I just nodded without looking her eye-to-eye. I am sure my facial expression would have given my frustration away. I couldn’t blame it on her. I knew that in a logical sense. She had every right to conduct business at this pharmacy as I had. I wish her apology had eased my anxiety but it didn’t do diddly-squat for that.

She was joined by two teenagers who I guessed were her kids. They soon got tired of standing at the counter and took advantage of the small sitting room. I had hoped that the other person on duty who was towards the back of the pharmacy would step up to the plate. Or, the clerk helping the customer would take his eyes off the screen and ask his colleague to help. Neither happened until someone spoke up.

That person wasn’t me. As bad as my ankle hurt, as hopeless as I felt, and the anger too, I could no more do it than fly to the moon. Confrontation or asking for help scares me more than waiting.

My rescuer was someone who was waiting too. She was one of the two waiting for her Mom to get done. She had a better line of vision of the pharmacy staff member towards the back of the store. She got her attention and let her know that a customer had been waiting for some time. I don’t know exactly what she said, but whatever it was, it brought the worker to the counter.

I smiled at both the teenagers and said “Thank you”. Oh, how, I meant that. They both nodded and smiled. The girl said, “No problem.” Sometimes help comes from unexpected people and places. I must keep that in mind so that I will be one of those unexpected people.

Asperger and a Passion to Make a Difference

With all the sadness Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) can bring, it also comes bearing gifts. I admit some moments are so bad that I think of AS more as a curse. On the other hand, in my better moments, I see an entirely different picture. One of privilege to make a difference.

While I was a substitute elementary teacher’s aide, I often worked with children with AS in special education settings or in regular classrooms. I have so many fond memories of these children who like anyone else had their passions.

Once I met a boy around ten whose drawings were stunning for one who had yet to say his first word. I also fondly remember a lovely girl who would sing during music class but neither her teacher nor fellow students could never get a word out of her as far as conversation.  She possessed a beautiful voice accompanied by an angelic glow on her face.  I was told she sang in the church choir.  Only the Lord knows how many hearts that child has touched from the choir loft.

My gift, my passion, is writing. Through my talent, I can voice my thoughts in words and let those who read them know me a little better. I took up blogging shortly after I learned that AS wasn’t something the children had, but I had also. After 400-something blogs, I am still at it because of the encouragement I have received. The feedback has shown me that I can use this gift as a means of contributing something good and positive to those near and far from me. An additional bonus is writing does me a world of good. After all, some of my blogs were written after a meltdown. If I can write about it, it hasn’t defeated me.

I’ve had the immense blessing of late to share my gift with a sweet lady who is a shut-in. Her life and that of her spouse are almost entirely confined to the house they’ve shared for over 60 years. Her outings, for the most part, are doctor appointments for herself or him. She actually misses grocery shopping such as picking out her own fruit and vegetables. Now she depends on those who put orders together to deliver to her home. She was an active church-goer attending the same church for many years, but nowadays, she turns on her computer to watch the service on Sunday mornings. Most of her conversations with friends, some of whom she has known for 60 years, are done over the phone. She misses something I don’t believe I’ve ever missed – having company over.

She was one of my e-mail pals who was on my weekly subscription list. She and others, mostly long-distance family members, get an e-mail of “my week that was” every Sunday. When she and her computer were having trouble connecting, an idea popped in my head to call her and read one of my blogs to her. I was reluctant at first. When was a good time to call? What if I called at a bad time? Would I know how and when to wrap up the conversation? But the thought was like a computer file that would not close. It was like any of my obsessive needs on any given day. Until I give in, the obsession will stay in my mind like a doorbell that won’t stop ringing.

I gave in and made my first blog call. I read a blog that was both about my AS and our mutual faith in the Lord. She loved it! I know she’s biased but I believe it was genuine on her part.

Thus, a new routine was started. I call her at the beginning of the week at approximately the same time of day. In addition to chatting, I read her the “blog of the week” in hopes of making her smile and starting her week on a bright note. I don’t normally like talking on the phone, but this is different. This is a mission to help someone and that is no small thing. It helps to make my life on the Spectrum worthwhile. I at least can know that I’m not just taking up space on this planet where I so often feel like I’m an alien being.

Mutual Interest

A cherished friendship has gone on hiatus. There was no falling out or anything like that. Even when my friend moved 2100 miles away, our friendship was maintained by phone calls. Although talking on the phone is usually something I do as a last resort, this particular friend was an exception. The reason is, quite simply, we shared a mutual interest.

The interest was politics. We supported the same candidate, the same political party. We’d have a phone chat about once a month during a long presidential campaign we both thought would never end. We entertained each other with news from the campaign trail that either delighted us or had the opposite effect.

Then, election day came and went. Our last chat was about the long-awaited victory and our relief of its outcome. Since our favored candidate took office, I haven’t given her a ring and she hasn’t either. It has been over a year now. The mutual interest between us is no longer a hot topic. Another election years away may give us a reason to do the monthly phone chats. But for the time being, I can’t think of anything to talk to her about now. There’s the weather but I would think my friend wouldn’t be any more interested in the forecast for my neck of the woods as I would hers.

I can be quite sociable with someone I know or a total stranger if there’s that essential ingredient – mutual interest.

For instance, I had a nice chat with a stranger outside a grocery store. My six-pack of diet coke caught his attention. He cheered my purchase with a thumbs-up and exclaimed, “Diet coke! That’s what I like.” I stopped in my tracks to talk to him. I don’t react that way to every stranger who attempts to engage me in conversation. He was an exception because I totally wholeheartedly agreed with his statement. Diet coke is one of my obsessions. My closet filled with multiple cases is proof of that. I hung around long enough to tell him that one of my simple daily pleasures in life is my first taste of the day. Similar to what I’ve heard coffee drinkers there’s nothing like the first-morning cup of caffeine.

I don’t normally cater to having even a very brief conversation initiated by a stranger but when it is about one of my interests, or obsessions, I’m quite willing to engage and give my two cents worth. Once I have done that, I’m ready to call it a conversation and go on about my business.

Flying Down the Ladder

There is the logic side and the Billy side (nickname for my Asperger’s) in my brain. In the majority of my decisions and actions on any given day, Billy overrules my logical side.

There is a commercial advertising a safe way of keeping rafters on one’s roof clean without having to get up on the roof and risk falling. The company that makes such a product has a good point. After I fell off the ladder, I often thought of that commercial.

I was using my vac leaf blower to clean the roof rafters. I’ve done this before a half-dozen times. My brother held the ladder steady for me. He told me before I went up that this ladder was shorter than our other one. I disregarded it since I didn’t want to bother getting the other one. Patience isn’t something I’m loaded with. I should have listened to him but when I had no problem getting on the carport, I thought I was in the clear. My brother warned it would be harder coming down. He isn’t always right, but he sure was that day.

I had finished cleaning the rafters and had moved from off the roof onto the carport. I still have this picture in my mind of sitting on the carport looking down at the top of the ladder. I pushed off the carport face-first aiming to land on the top of the ladder. Logic would have told me to turn myself around on the carport and then back myself down facing the ladder, step-by-step. Instead, I went with the familiar which Billy thrives on.

My method of coming down the ladder was to step down facing away from the ladder. On the third step from the top, I would turn around, face the ladder, and make my way down. This was fairly easy to do on the ladder that was hanging out in the backyard shed. Billy didn’t give a thought to my brother’s warning that this wasn’t the same ladder and when it comes to ladder hopping, length made a big difference. I ignored the logic to push the “pause” button and get the ladder I had used before.

So I flew down the ladder onto the ground landing feet first. The good news is I didn’t break any bones. Thank God! It’s a miracle in my humble opinion. The bad news is my right ankle took the brunt of the fall. It did not take its sweet time to swell and double its size. My brother was so kind to not say “I told you so.”

My Mom and niece thought I should go and get it x-rayed. It was the logical step. However, Billy and I had already endured the anxiety of my semi-annual medical check-up earlier that same day. I did NOT want to see a doctor so soon again! I didn’t think I had broken a bone since I could wiggle my toes and move my foot sideways and up-and-down although in a painful sort of way. I went with Billy and avoided the whole doctor visit/x-ray. The logic was telling me it was a risky move; Billy was telling me the pain wasn’t bad enough to do something so drastic as getting my ankle seen to by total strangers.

The following days, items such as ice packs, a wrapping bandage, and Ibuprofen were my ammo against the pain. I took one of my 85-year-old Mom’s two walkers off her hands. I received a GIGANTIC dose of empathy for my Mom’s strain in getting around on a walker. She on the other hand was sort of in my shoes with her having to tend to me. I found out firsthand what she meant about arm muscles taking a lot of the heat from walker use. I also found out that walkers are every bit as hard to drive as defective grocery carts.

I didn’t bother her much, though, because I’m fiercely foolishly independent thanks to Billy. If desperate, and there were times I was, I would call out “Mom!”

There was a surreal moment during my recovery. I was on the walker heading out of the kitchen while my Mom was on her walker heading into the kitchen. Her days on a “walker” came after hip replacement surgery. We both burst out laughing. I asked her, “You wanna race?” She didn’t take me up on it and quite frankly if she had, I think she would have won since she has more “walker” experience than I.

A strong trait of Billy’s, one of the questions on the Autism test, is the preference for doing something the same way even if there is an easier way. I theorize that’s why I approached the ladder as I did that day. My intent was to come down off the carport as I had done before. My Billy didn’t take into account that the length of a ladder can be the difference between safely landing and dangerously falling.

Five days later, I had graduated to a cane and driven around the neighborhood in my car that almost had an entire week of vacation. I’m improving each day and am so thankful to the Lord for that. The experience has helped me better understand my Mom’s challenges with movement. I more appreciate the freedom of movement; at least, until such time that I can part with my cane.

If my fall had been videotaped, one might think I was wanting to get out of cleaning the rafters and life altogether. Or, as my Mom suggested, I was inspired by my obsession with action TV shows and movies and thought I could fly my way down.

SIT!

My 85-year-old Mom whose roof I live under wanted to show me a magazine with the cover story, “The Best Employers to Work For”. I told her, “Well, I work for you and I doubt you made it on the list.” She laughed instead of throwing it at me. Seriously, though, I am privileged to be my Mom’s sidekick.

One morning my Mom was visited by a home health nurse for a follow-up on her progress from hip surgery. I was still in a snooze position when I heard her walk in the door. One of the retirement assets I enjoy is I get up pretty much when I want to. I would have stayed put since she was my Mom’s visitor. However, I decided to get up since it was a little past my normal rise-and-shine moment.

Good news! The nurse was impressed with my Mom’s health stats. In other words, she’s doing VERY good for someone her age. Her vitals were well in the normal range. So that’s the good news!

The bad news was the nurse’s visit was much harder on me and my “Billy” (my nickname for my Autism) than on her. There are times when Billy is quiet as a mouse. And, then there are times when it wakes up like a roaring lion and slaps me in the face. This was one of those times.

I poked my head in to introduce myself because I’ve heard it is a polite thing to do when company comes callin’. The lady had a friendly voice and so I felt okay to make a quick entrance/exit. It went sour when she asked me to join in. I understand her reason for wanting to explain it to us both, but it wasn’t necessary. I could hear every word said since both my Mom and the nurse do not have low voices. Even if I had not been within earshot, I get a thorough briefing from my Mom of her every visit, phone call, and e-mail she receives. My Mom is still of sound mind and doesn’t need an interpreter. I said in a low voice, “Nah!”

The nurse didn’t take “nah” for an answer. She insisted! I felt reduced from a 63-year-old to a 10-year-old. This wouldn’t have been hard IF I didn’t have autism, but I do. Social interaction is like a land minefield to me. Sometimes I step onto a lane mine and this one I did. My “Billy” kicked up a storm inside my head. I did as she asked and sat on the couch. I had an itching to throw a tantrum. But I knew I had to stay quiet, nod, smile, and, in other words, pretend to be someone who doesn’t have a “Billy”.

She and my Mom hit it off. It’s hard to say who did most of the talking. They both had a good time judging from the smiles and chuckles; theirs, not mine. After her insisting for me to “SIT”, I had nothing else to say to her. I shut down! I wrung my hands to ease the tension as I continued to sit pretty. I wanted to rock but that would have attracted attention and I didn’t want any. The nurse may have thought I was cold and indifferent. I hope not, but I can’t help it if she did. She’s not to blame because she didn’t know about my “Billy”.

That’s the thing. One never knows what someone else lives with or is going through.

She told my Mom some of her life stories. Her medical career was impressive having worked once as a heart transplant nurse at a major hospital. In the course of the conversation, she stated someone told her once that she was too bossy. I didn’t say it, she did. I thought, “NO KIDDING!”

After she left, I went out for a walk in the yard to soothe my “Billy”. A prayer too. And, followed by a four-mile bike ride. That’s my therapy. I tell Billy “let’s forget it ever happened” and Billy says “only in your dreams, my dear!”

A SAD AND HAPPY REUNION

My Mom and her church lady friends used to meet twice a month at someone’s house for Bible study and good ol’fellowship. Then, COVID put a halt to that.

Their first gathering since being shut down occurred was both a sad and happy reunion. It wasn’t a re-installment of their in-person Bible study meetings. It was a virtual event like so many are in “these days” of COVID. They came together to watch an online viewing of their friend’s memorial service. The biggest talker of their group, the one who livened it up with some eye-raising stories, their table centerpiece, had been added to the casualty list of COVID-19.

When my Mom told me their plans of watching it together, my response was to analyze it. Not hours or days but weeks. Analyzing to death is one of my “living on the spectrum” chores. This gathering of my Mom and her friends was just ironic to me. It was COVID that kept them from meeting as they once did, but it was the death of one of them to COVID that brought them together for the first time since we all started saying “these days”.

I myself met their friend a handful of times. She was so different from me but that difference drew me to her like a magnet. She talked and I listened.

I remember back in the day before COVID that if my Mom came home earlier than usual from the ladies bible study, I’d say, “She must not have been there.” I was usually right! If she was in the room, one would have to be hard of hearing not to know it.

When I heard that she was so bad that they couldn’t save her legs, I thought about how hard it would be for her to live without the use of them. It would be hard for anyone but for someone like her who was a bundle of energy, always seemingly on the go, it would have been even more challenging. And, there probably would have been more after-effects than her legs with her having had severe COVID and for such a long duration. I take it on faith that she is in a better place but it’s awfully hard on those she has left behind.

She was the family’s “Rock of Gibraltar”. She was a constant presence in the lives of her husband, children, and grandchildren. She was a strong advocate for her grandson who has epilepsy. How so? To put it simply, the school he attended knew his grandmother by sight and sound. She had his back and now it falls to his Mom who has her mother’s shining example to follow.

She did not get the vaccine shot. We can’t know what might have been if she had.

I was invited but the person inviting me probably knew I wouldn’t come. She is my “second Mom” and I have talked to her about my life on the Spectrum more than most anyone else. I grieved for this loss in my own way, by myself, as I do most things.

I am hopeful for these ladies that this sad and happy reunion won’t be the last but a new beginning. I hope they will eventually start meeting regularly again with each other and their new church lady friends who have joined the church since COVID and attending services virtually became a constant in their lives.

Due to COVID, there have been so many endings. The number is beyond my comprehension. But yet, there have been some beginnings too.

The Gift of Asperger’s

With all the sadness Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) can bring, it also comes bearing gifts. I admit some moments are so bad that I think of AS more as a curse. On the other hand, in my better moments, I see an entirely different picture. One of privilege.

If someone were to ask me what was my all-time favorite moment in high school, I would not have to give it much thought. I don’t have many favorite moments in that chapter in my life. Maybe I had more good moments than I think; I just don’t remember them. The high school memories that pop up in my brain primarily are the bad ones and there is plenty of those.

My best moment was one day in history class. History was my favorite subject. World, U.S., Texas, etc. didn’t matter. I liked all kinds. That day there was a game going on between one half of the class against the other. Pre-test questions were called out by the teacher. There was a tie and so the teacher gave the tie-breaking question. My fellow team members had their eyes peeled on me. To them, at least during the game, I was the team wizard. I did not let them down. My hand was raised and it was the only one. I don’t remember the exact question or answer but I do remember the answer was the year when whatever happened. When I gave the correct answer, the teacher’s mouth was wide-opened and his eyes round as saucers. He was amazed that anyone, include me one of his “A” students, would know the answer. My team members yelled and clapped with their eyes all on me.

Me? The one who was bullied for her size and looks. The one who had no one to sit with in the lunch room. The one who had too few friends to mention. The chunky kid who couldn’t do cartwheels in P.E. The one who stood no chance of being invited to the prom; nor would have accepted the invitation if there had been one. The one who was an honor student but was so lacking in social skills.

A common trait that some with AS have is possessing a good memory. A memory for facts, figures, game scores, license plate numbers, etc. It would be decades later before I knew that I had AS. Thus, it was a long time before I learned what are my AS abilities/traits. Once I was AS-aware, I could look back at moments in my life with a different pair of lens such as that day in history class.

My best memory in high school wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have AS. My high school years, as well as the other chapters in my life so far, would have been far different if I had not had AS. Like I might have had a date to the prom. I might have had several dates. One of them might have been a wedding date or a date in a hospital delivery room. I might have gone to parties and enjoyed them. I can’t know what my life would be without AS. Speculation only gets me as far distance as I would in a rocking chair rocking in it from dawn to dusk.

There are things I miss and have missed living with AS. But there are moments, some of them life-changing, that I wouldn’t change for any amount of money in the world. And those moments would have never happened if I didn’t have the gift of Asperger’s.