I’ve been thinking of writing about Autism for a few months. When Greta Thunberg or, Saint Greta of Climate as I call her, started to pop-up in studios and in conversations with politicians she also confessed to having Aspergers. Note I didn’t use the word “suffer”. Aspergers is part of the autistic spectrum that ranges from people who are locked-in to strange, un-coordinated behaviours such that they need special care to geniuses with behaviours that are often outside of conventional norms. (I gravitate towards the latter!).
I was always a bit strange and reclusive. “Precocious” is a word sometimes used. I discovered NLP and Ericksonian hypnosis which allowed me to analyse my behaviours and I then blossomed into gregarious. I loved performing in front of an audience giving speeches and presentations, a far cry from shy and retiring. I imagined I was a conductor with a wand and the audience my instruments.
Anyone familiar with my commenting knows I can be a contrarian. That’s the Aspergers bit where I follow the truth, as I see it, with the tenacity to perpetuate what I believe even if thousands are against me. I can be outrageous but I also follow rules. I will try hard to be part of the community and realise my argumentative nature (a bit like a barrister) can be destructive. Yet, it is also my argumentative version of martial arts that has won many victories in dealing with bad service and consumer issues. My family are grateful I’m on their side.
Its part of my Aspergers that I will do and say things that aren’t necessarily the way most people would behave. It’s because I don’t get embarrassed, anymore. I might tell you things about me that most people would keep secret. I will take an unexpected angle on an argument in order to go around pro-forma responses.
“We can’t do that”. Me:- “OK, so who can? Can the managing director do that? What’s his phone number”?
“Hello, is that Mr Lugosi?” Me:- “Why do you care?” – if it’s a number I don’t recognise.
“Aspies” tend to be creative because they will think outside the box. Sometimes they will invent a new box. We don’t understand why we can’t get a refund or why a rule that denies us something that is fair justice. That makes us argumentative.
We can have specialities and interests. I am not a sociable person. I can’t stand parties and chit-chat unless it’s a subject on which I have an interest. Football, American politics, NLP, computing, Islam and you can’t shut me up. Your latest car, Aunt Maude’s hip operation – I lack empathy. Being an Aspie is sometimes “Me, me, me”. But its emotion like some Aspies there are lots of things on TV that bring on tears.
Back to Greta Thunberg. She has a single focus interest which means she can speak well on the subject. She will get around tough questions by being able to argue without following any social construct rules. She isn’t shy and retiring which means she will take on speaking in any forum. She equalises herself with everyone else. By that I mean she will feel herself equal to a prime minister or senior politician. She isn’t a typical 16-year old she’s more like a very experienced 40 year old.
None of this means that she is right about anything.
I never realised I could claim an autistic label until our daughter showed signs that she wasn’t developing as normal. Her speech was delayed. We took her to specialists who gave us a standard questionnaire of autistic behaviour. We answered on her behalf of course and we also realised I scored quite high on the questions too. Without speech it might be hard to determine a life outcome but it’s because of my own Aspie personality that I wouldn’t accept any of the negative outcomes. I realised she was highly intelligent by the way she played Pacman on the PC far better than anyone I had seen. She could play Solitaire. I taught her basic algebra:- “If A is one, B is Two and C is three then what is A plus C”. She always got it right. I could give her a complex instruction. “Find the blue dog in the living room and take it to the back room and put it on the table”.
I knew from that she was intelligent and I was determined that she went through a normal education to lift her up and not the disabled school to drag her down. We visited such a school and I refused to allow her into that environment. A weaker parent might have dumped her there.
It might be another story I will write but the outcome is that she has now has a Master’s Degree in animation, and I thank Puffins for their kind comments last year when I proudly announced it. Only in the last two weeks has she left the house on her own to walk into town. She is now contemplating a train journey to Manchester to stay with friends. These are things that a normal 22 year old would be doing without a second thought. But the fact that she is also selectively mute has prevented her from doing these things. We worry about how she would interact with a ticket collector if she had mislaid her ticket. What if the train was delayed and she missed a connection? What if the train was cancelled?
Autism isn’t all about Rain-Man and youngsters with uncontrolled behaviour. It is a spectrum. It manifests itself in a mixture of behaviours and personalities. It shouldn’t be used as a term of abuse. An autistic person has parents. Think about what they had to endure to get their child to function in a World where we are often cruel about difference.
Child autism Assessment test – https://www.psycom.net/child-autism-test
Autism test – https://www.wired.com/2001/12/aqtest/
NHS, Autism, Getting diagnosed – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/diagnosis/
National Autistics Society – https://www.autism.org.uk/
© Lugosi 2019
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file