A friend had given me the book. Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide to Parents and Professionals by Toni Attwood. It was her gentle way of suggesting that my son might be on the autism spectrum. I was less offended and more interested in why she thought this. My son was not the difficult child. At three he was fairly easy. He would line up his cars and spend hours walking in circles. He always walked clockwise. He ate the same food for every meal every day. We followed the same schedule and there were rarely any problems.
It was his sister that I was concerned with. She was younger then he was by a year, and had been difficult since birth. The only time she seemed to stop screaming was when she was in her swing; we now had two in our living room. She started running months ago. She never stopped and the only direction she did not run was towards me. She also learned her first word, “youcanttellmewhattodo”, which she said over and over. But my friends did not have a book about my daughter.
I love books. I live off books, they are as essential to me as breathing. So I opened the book and started reading. Social behavior, language, interests and routines, motor clumsiness, cognition, sensory sensitivity. No one told me that you were supposed to look people directly in their eyes. That was horrifying, but the fight with my husband a few weeks earlier suddenly made sense. He had accused me of never looking into his eyes. I told him that he was stupid why would I look into his eyes? No one looked into each other’s eyes. Except apparently they did.
My life began to replay through my head. My tears when I was tickled. The jacket I wore every single day of middle school. The bullying at school. Not understanding why my boss could not see something that was so obvious to me. A thousand pieces of my life started making since. The whole time I thought that the world was crazy. It turns out that I was just different.
Mindy James earned her MS in applied developmental psychology and her BA in Psychology with a minor in English. She was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder in her mid-twenties. She incorporates themes of mental health in her writing to help bring awareness to the diversity of the world. She enjoys reading, is a first degree black belt in taekwondo, and raising her three special kids.