It’s been a very, very long journey to become the man I am today. Almost 30 years already, although I am 8 months short, it still feels like I am already 30 years on this planet, so it might be a fun time to look back.
I will only chronicle the search for my autism, I won’t tell you all the details, because it might not be very interesting or be traumatizing to some whom have had similar experiences.
I remember really wanting to go to school. Wanting to learn. I had 2 bigger sisters whom departed for school every single day, and I wanted to go too. I was lonely most of the day, and I wanted to be with my sisters. Not that they cared. I asked my mom why I couldn’t go. I was only a little guy of 2 years old maybe. My mom told me that when I went to the potty, like a big boy, I could go. I think I never learned a skill that fast anymore like I was potty trained. Not that long after, I was enrolled in kindergarten. I think I was a handfull. I was a nice kid, but I played very much on my own. I don’t remember much interactions with other kids, although I had some people that I could’ve called friends back then, but I really don’t remember much interactions with them. I lived in a small town, so most of the kids that I was in school with at that time, still were in my class almost a decade later. We got seperated though, half of our kindergarten class stayed behind in the girls school (a catholic school) and half of us wen to the public school. I missed 6 years with my childhood crush because of this choice.
Elementary school was fun. When I was in bed, I made the sounds E, A, U and I remember questioning what they were called. My sisters never taught me anything, except my youngest sister, she taught me how to ride a bike. I learned to do almost anything in school. I learned how to read in school, and was a very avid reading. My favourite book was about a leprechaun, or how do you call it in English (it’s a dutch book called “Pinkeltje”) and I loved it. I loved Snow white around that age as well. I was afraid of the witch though, and still am, because of a prank with a latex mask my oldest sister pulled on me. I hated homework almost immediatly and never got why we should do homework anyway. My grades in elementary school were good. I scored in all my years there never below 80 percent, which is a good thing without studying.
I was mostly lonely. I had a few good friends, older, with whom I played during recess. I didn’t have any kids with whom I played in my own class. After the elder boys had to go to a different school, I was lonely most of the time. Playing on my own, or I brought a book or a Yo-yo. Things I could do on my own. I wandered the playground a lot as well and pondered over things, pre-internet times. I was not a smart kid. I didn’t have access to books to learn out of. My mom never took me to the library, nor did my sisters. I didn’t know that was an option so I never took it. I missed out a lot of information because of this.
Kids must have noticed that I was weird. I was teased a lot. My mom never taught me proper hygiene. We weren’t very rich and the fact that my mom and dad seperated didn’t help either. I was the first kid whose parents seperated. I was almost in every way an outcast. I didn’t have the fancy toys the other kids had. I was awkward. Wasn’t good at sports. Wasn’t enrolled in any extra-culicular activity either, so I was alone most of the time, seperated from the other kids. Kids called me smelly, laughed at me because I wore funny clothes my mom bought me.
Everyday that I came home, I was tired. Now I know I was overstimulated, but in those days, autism wasn’t that well known. During my first weeks of Elementary school, I didn’t even eat in school. I remember that I was overstimulated most of the times during lunch. We had to bring our own luches and it was noticable my parents didn’t have a lot of money. I almost always had the same thing with me. I hate crowded places, so if you wanted to look for me, you had to look in a corner were no one was. I thought about a lot of things but never got any answers, although I loved to learn and think. I was a very eager student. My dad was a locksmith and I went into his shop a lot just to look. It was mostly quiet there as well, because my dad was very concentrated when he worked (and autistic). I understand now, that our strained relationship is thanks to him being autistic and I’m autistic, and it clashed, because we both didn’t know how to behave. I remember that I brought my dad cookies for father’s day and I went into his shop to bring them to him, and I asked him to taste one, and he barked at me. I still don’t know why, and probably never will. I was frightened and I took the cookies back and went into my bedroom and ate them myself. I never made anything anymore for father’s day.
I still have tears in my eyes, when I type this story, although it’s been 26 years ago and my dad died last year. I know I’m sad, because tears fall out of my eyes, but I don’t feel anything else. I don’t feel sadness. I wouldn’t even know how it felt like. You have to understand, that in order for me to know how it feels, I will have to find a book that describes how these emotions feel.
I will tell you more in part 2.