This entry comes as a result of the work I’ve been doing for the book. It’s proceeding rapidly, I should stress. In theory I should step away completely from this blog to write it. However I won’t do that. This blog is my heart and soul. The book is an adaptation of it. Much of the writing has unlocked ideas for blog entries. Why let good material go to waste?
As kids, we frequently have the excuse of our immaturity for our mistakes. Most bullies aren’t malicious kids, I believe. They’re acting on learned behavior. Many of them outgrow it. Some of the kids I was at odds with are friends today. What qualifies a story from childhood as different from any other?
I’ve pondered that as I dig through my past. After all, how do I cite what falls under AS/HFA and what was just being a kid? There are so many stories that fit on either side of the line. What falls where? This is rather funny when you consider that in theory my disorder was more pronounced as a kid than as an adult. But I can tell easier now than then. Regardless, why not try?
The obvious ticks get to go in the AS/HFA box. Eye contact heads there. My weird speech. My insistence on routine. The way I walked through a bookstore. (1) All of that fits easily in that realm.
Then there are the parts that go in the typical kid section. I was a skittish kid. I tended to make weird jokes. I was rude in certain expected ways. I liked dreadful movies, tv, and books. Yeah, that all goes to immaturity.
Certain parts waver past certain points. The fits in particular. Those were normal at 4, irritating at 6, getting weird at 8, troubling at 10. At 31, they’re problematic as can be, even diagnosed as I am. They definitely fall under AS/HFA now but there as a time I suspect not.
I’m guilty of having teased a few times. That falls under immaturity. It is forever on my soul that I once made fun of a girl in elementary school, calling her up to mock her. It seemed normal and I don’t think I would have done it if I wasn’t trying to be ordinary. Still, total party foul. Immaturity big time.
One other teasing incident falls under being a kid but it feels very AS/HFA anyway. One of my friends’ fathers held one of his other children hostage one night. I remember seeing the SWAT team outside my window and everything. He ultimately killed himself. I brought it up rather badly the next time I saw him. Immature, but sadly reminds me of many habits I have. I’m still not very good at handling sensitive subjects. (2)
Then there are the obvious moments. I’ve always felt my literalness as a kid was far more obviously due to the neurological issues. I got downright offended when teachers called me out for innocent behavior like the pretend games. Even when they weren’t necessarily trying to, I would get hurt by being made to feel like less of a person for that. It happened several times too. I’ll say it again: childhood is frustrating.
One story really stands out for me though. This one I have carried for 21 years. My humiliation over this moment can legally get drunk! One afternoon in early 1994, my mom invited one of my friends to go see Ace Ventura: Pet Detective with us. I did not want to see it. (3) I wanted to see Blank Check. (4) So, without thinking, I ditched my friend to see Blank Check. When my mother impressed what I did on me that night, I instantly felt profound and severe remorse, crying my eyes out for hours. I didn’t mean to do anything wrong. I just wanted to see a good movie.
What was my sickened thought process? I was at the movies. That was what mattered. When I watched a movie, the other people didn’t matter. It was about the movie. I would love to say my shame over this error taught me not to do this kind of thing again. No, this happened in various forms 3-4 more times. Even when I did go with friends, once or twice I tried to get in for free including at Harold and Kumar Go To WhIte Castle which I KNEW I would hate. (5)
So yes, that’s what you need to look for regarding an AS/HFA moment: Our intentions. Look for our mental eye lines in a moment to see what our screw ups come from. Trust me, we’ll be just as frustrated as you are once we see it.
Ultimately it’s all childhood too. Childhood is where we screw up so we can learn to do better as we grow up and make many more new errors.
(1) I still do all of these things admittedly.
(2) Irony: I’m active in activism for equality. Believe me, I step wrong often there. I care though.
(3) Good call in retrospect. That movie has aged like garbage in the sun.
(4) Good call undone. Blank Check is much worse.
(5) I got in for free…to the first one. Paid full price on the awesome sequels. I was wrong.