I mentioned the other day (after reading a book about Asperger's) that I suspect myself as having a gradient of Aspergers. And no, I am not normally a hypochondriac. And mild Aspergers, not like Jerry on Boston Legal. And not to the extent that John Elder does in the book "Look Me In The Eye". But AB agrees, I easily fall on that spectrum.
When I was in grad school I took one of those “help a fellow grad student out in this field and take this test” things. Afterwards she told me I had Aspergers. At the time I went “what? I don’t have Autism”, and I laughed and went on with my day thinking, "wow, wonder if she ever gets her degree!". I will admit though that this has always lingered in the back of my head. Moreso now that Leif’s teacher has been mentioning Aspergian traits. I just finished reading “Look Me In The Eye” by John Elder Robison and spent many evenings nodding my head. In some chapters I laughed and thought “ok, that’s out there, WAY out there”. Other chapters I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with the stories he was telling, they sounded normal and a bit comforting.
I have been trying to figure out how to blog about this and have finally decided to just jump in with a series of posts hitting on traits of people with Aspergers and how or why, I see myself and Leif.
One of the weirder chapters I could relate to was Robison’s on naming things or people. The other night after reading that chapter I poured out my soul to AB. I had not talked to anyone about this before, but I have this problem and not only that, but I suspect from a few of Leif’s slip ups – that he also has this problem.
When I see a person, not everyone by far, just random people I know for some reason, I have to think before I say their name. And often, it is just easier for me to avoid saying their name. Because it does NOT fit and even becomes difficult for me to form my mouth and say their name. Want to see me squirm? Have me introduce one of these random people to you. I can usually come up with a name quickly, but the question is whether it is the right name.
The worst is when I slip up. In high school I dated a guy for about two months. He was a nice guy, but I cannot for the life of me remember his name. After 20 years this might make sense. But truth? I couldn’t remember his name when we dated. He was Keith to me. He fit the name Keith. And I slipped up enough in our short dating stint that he was sure I had another boyfriend named Keith. And I didn’t even know anyone named Keith. Explain this one to a new boyfriend… I couldn’t. This was back when I forgot to think hard about something before I opened my mouth - something I try to do, but not always successfully.
Another one? When I first started at the lab I worked with a specialist. He was introduced to me, but I knew his name just looking at him before he was introduced to me. It was Cookie. Yes, Cookie is a very odd name for a man my parent’s age. And amazingly enough it rhymed with his real name, Charlie. Panic comes over me when I see Cookie around the campus because I have to rack my brain to get the guy’s real name so that I can do what I have learned to do and say, “Hi Charlie, how are you?” Thank goodness I don’t work with the guy anymore. Though with most people put me in an instance where I get to know them better and my tendency fades and their name comes more naturally to me.
Calling animals by “The Cat” or “The Dog”. No problem. I do this (not sure if this one is weird or not.) Your pets names? Oh, I would have to think a lot about that. Leif is big on this one. He loves his cat, Lucky, and has declared himself a cat person. He isn’t terribly fond of our dogs but he goes to bed every night with “Cat” on him. “Cat” likes to lay on Leif in bed, which is kind of humorous since “Cat” is also about 19 lbs and Leif is just over twice that. As Leif is falling asleep and his eyes are fluttering he will ask me to “put Cat next to me and make sure he doesn’t leave, I want him here”. Leif knows his name is Lucky, but more often than not, he’s “Cat” to Leif.
One of the very obvious ones from an early age that I blogged about years ago was hearts. Leif still calls hearts “eskimos”. This started long before I suspect he had much of an idea what an Eskimo was, which still perplexes me – because believe me, I know what a cookie is. His teacher at the time found it cute and novel, though a bit perplexing. His current teacher? She calls it Aspergers. Leif has learned that hearts are called hearts, but 9 times out of 10 if you put a heart in front of him he will start with “eski – err, I mean heart”.
And other kids in Leif's class? Until he gets to know them well he doesn't use their name, they are "the kid that knocked his front teeth out" or "that one kid" or "the boy whose dad is a police officer". Is this the same thing? I am not sure.