I sure had a few unusual interests as a young kid. Apart from the more commonly read but prosaic comics, I also read the telephone directory regularly, and often counted the number of people with a certain surname, or the number of people listed under a certain town name, and related trivial statistics… I spent happy hours thus occupied.
I could have scored 90% plus in an exam on place names! I fact when I was 12 I scored 97% in Geography because most of the questions concerned naming various world capitals (many have changed names since then, as have the countries) but at that time, I could also quote the names of all the books of the Old and New Testaments and various obscure biblical statistics. My grandparents had a bookcase of rather ancient encyclopedias and other books which I eagerly devoured.
At times I displayed aggressive tendencies towards others, although I changed to being more the victim in high school. I stiill feel guilty that I used to do nasty things towards my gran’s lovely dog Peter, a Springer spaniel, simply because for some reason I considered him ugly. He was a beautiful natured dog, but I still remember trying to throw sand in an ice cream tub he was licking out on the beach once. If I could have my life over again I’d make it up to him.
I was also poorly co-ordinated and clumsy. I learned to tie shoe-laces at age 10 or so, and still battle to tie them so that they stay tied. They still seem to conspire against me as though challenging me to do a better job of it!
Long before I started school I could read and write. One day I wrote a letter to an imaginary friend, using a made-up foreign language of my own. Unfortunately at the end of the letter I translated “PS” as “p*ss” and when my mom read it, her irate maternal hands tore up the offending missive. I had no idea what was so revolting about the word I’d chosen.
I also liked to draw cartoons both at home and school. One of these featured a seal that produced brown and white balls for children to play with. One of the girls wanted to know if it was doggy-do (dogs in those days produced a lot of white droppings – something seldom seen nowadays possibly due to changes in diet). Now this is what had inspired the “balls” in my mind in the first place but I felt it would be making a mean admission to say so, so I simply said “No, they are just balls.”
I was also very fond of drawing pictures of towns, buildings, streets, rivers and bridges at this stage of my sojourn through life, and also remember on at least one occasion drawing a flying saucer standing on stilts. I had notebooks filled with sketches and drawings.
From around age 10-12 I drew cars and made up my own house plans. I used to avidly read my grandpa’s old Car magazines as well as home plan books in the home of my mother and stepfather.
Coming from a conservative, religiously fundamental Baptist background, I remember several rather amusing incidents. One day we went to my stepfather’s mother’s farm and my step-cousin was there. We played a game where she told my fortune. Going home that evening, the moon was a deep orange shade for some natural reason, but at the time, I was imagining Jesus showing his deep displeasure at the childish game by producing a dark-hued moon.
One evening I also remember going to bed rather earlier than usual, and hearing a boy somewhere in the street playing a bugle rather amateurishly, translated in my then exceptionally indoctrinated mind as an angel announcing the Rapture with his mighty trumpet. At this stage in my life I was excelling in the Sunday School scriptural exams and the various OT tales. Of course these days I have come to the awareness of just how barbaric some of these tales were… naturally the Children’s Bible shields the little ones from the genocides, stonings and other atrocities of the Dark Side…
I also remember being taken to at least one pastor for treatment of demonic obsession or possession or whatever they would have called it. Apparently I ran from the room, which is quite understandable considering how intimidating it must have been to be confronted by the sight and sound of a dark-suited preacher trying to lay hands on me.
The doctor referred my to a plethora of mental health experts. I would be taken to the nearest large city from an early age for sessions with a psychiatrist but his expertise combined with that of several other professionals failed to find a satisfactory answer to my oddities. At that time, the word Asperger’s was virtually unknown in my country so that’s not surprising.
In the next instalment of this saga, I shall be revealing some incidents from high school as we move to the next page in our attempt to make sense of this slight deviation from the predictable NT pattern ; hopefully this info can help someone out there who has HFA or Aspergers, or the people that care about them.