* Activity Being Procrastinated: dishes and laundry
* Music In My Head: Solitary Wave – David Francey
* Tea: blueberry
* Books Being Read: Generation X – Douglas Coupland
The Preamble (or Family Skeletons):
A few months ago, there was a Facebook quiz that tested your autism quotient. Being the daughter of two psychologists, I knew that this wasn’t a real test, but I took it for a lark.
I got a pretty high score on it: according to Facebook, I’m autistic. Two of my sisters also took the test: one got a higher score than I did, and the other one – the “normal” one of the family – got a somewhat lower score. We thought it was pretty funny. It served our purpose, which was to provide fodder for insults. (That’s what siblings do, right?)
Now, as we are the daughters of two psychologists, you’ll surmise that there was fall-out from this. Indeed, my father (who never checks Facebook) checked Facebook and went off the deep end. When we were little, we called these rants “yucky talks”. This yucky talk went on for about 500 words.
My dad doesn’t ever say 500 words at a go.
Perhaps, we muttered amongst ourselves, it was a case of the man who doth protest too much.
The sister who got the “very autistic” score is, um, a, um, unique person: people either love her or despise her. Her quirks are – and she admits this freely – similar to those of someone with autism. She has a lot of personal rules, likes patterns, is sensitive to light and sound and touch, and often has a hard time dealing with people. She identifies with a lot of autistic characters in books because they make the most sense, she says. While she understands that Facebook quizzes cannot diagnose, she figures the average psychologist would have to think twice before writing “not autistic” on her file. Maybe they’d even have to think three times.
No Longer Preamble:
While I’m sure the average psychologist would have a number of choice names for me, “autistic” isn’t likely one of them; I endeavor towards a different stereotype. However, like my sister, I also have an appreciation for the autistic mind because it generally makes sense to me. Thus, when I was reading an article which referred to Glenn Gould’s comment on freedom, I found myself nodding my head in agreement. He says:
I’ve never understood the preoccupation with freedom as it is reckoned in the Western world… to be incarcerated would be the perfect test of one’s inner mobility.
Some years ago, a woman claimed sanctuary at the church I was attending. As with most sanctuary cases, it was a mad rush to get her in to the building and settled comfortably before the immigration people got to her. People donated the bed and other furniture, got as many clothes as they could, brought food, donated video tapes for her to watch. A visitation schedule was drawn up so that she would have at least one visitor per day – someone to bring her shopping as well as keep her company.
I brought her some books.
Unfortunately, this woman was the sort of person who liked to do things. At home, she would cook, clean, babysit, go shopping. She didn’t even like to watch TV all that much. So, locked inside the church, she felt like a prisoner. I brought her different books, we hooked up the internet, and we tried to include her in anything-and-everything that was happening at the church. Within two months, she was seriously depressed and disinterested in everything.
I didn’t get it. While I understood that it was essentially a prison term, I figured a couple of weeks of feeling sorry for herself was long enough. Given the chance to not work or take care of a family, wouldn’t you then take on all those things that had been rattling around your head for years and years? Wouldn’t that be the time to learn to play piano, take online courses, and read, Read, READ?
What, I asked her, would you like to do?
Get out of here.
That wasn’t an option: immigration is a waiting game. We knew we were looking at years.
I got really frustrated with her. To me, as to Gould, having limitations put on your body would be a reason to take the limitations off your brain. Let it loose. See what it could do.
Imagine being given permission to live inside your own little world.
She never did. The woman just kept falling apart for over two years. When she finally got the immigration thing straightened out and left the church, she went back to her happy state of being: now she cooks and cleans and takes care of people and goes shopping.
I have to make myself leave the house every day. I have to force myself to interact with people that I don’t know well. If my children aren’t around, I forget about things like cleaning and cooking fresh food. It’s difficult to remember that my body needs as much attention as my brain (although it will never get that much attention: I’d have to give up sleeping).
There was a time when I looked for diagnoses and definitions. Now, I just accept that people are different, and that means some of us live in our heads. You could call it weird but that would be difficult, seeing as there are probably as many weird people as there are not weird people.
And, besides, I really like the weird people.
I tend to like autistic people, too. They’re easy to get along with. Seriously. Just try it.