Not long ago, while on an outing with Melvin at work, something happened that reminded me that I wasn’t so different from Melvin who is way high up on the Autistic Spectrum. On this particular day, I took him out to one of his usual favourite places so he could buy old post cards, something he collects to the point of hoarding. But that’s not the issue here. What is the issue was that after he had bought a good number of post cards, had a really good lunch out and on the way back, I stopped at the supermarket so he could buy a beer to drink that night, once we were back home, he grumbled that he didn’t get something else he wanted. It didn’t matter that he never mentioned he wanted this thing whilst we were out, the fact that he didn’t get this thing spoiled the great day he had.
My first reaction was “You ungrateful git” although I never vocalized that and immediately, I remembered that sometimes Melvin can’t help it on account of his Asperger’s. Furthermore, it had me reflecting back to times in my childhood when I acted the same way.
Two memories of this happened when I was ten. One was when my family went to Florida. I had a great time because I got to go swimming outside in February and of course, I didn’t want to come back. A few months after the holiday, I commented to my mother that the only thing I was disappointed in was that I didn’t get to learn how to scuba dive. To this day, I can’t recall where that came from. I remember the lifeguard at the hotel pool making the offer for lessons but my mother told him we were checking out that day so, no. Furthermore, I don’t remember being disappointed over it on the day. I can only conclude that it was a manifestation of my own Asperger’s. Still, I felt guilty for voicing this “disappointment” to my mother.
However, there was another instance which upon reflection, really makes me out to be some spoiled brat. While visiting my grandparents at the New Jersey shore with some relatives who had never seen the ocean before, the family of relatives were going to the boardwalk in Atlantic City that evening. Naturally, I wanted to go and when told by my mother and step father we weren’t, I had a sulk and because it was my grandmother’s birthday, wished her a sad birthday. How I didn’t get slapped was beyond me. Still, it showed that I was being ungrateful.
In no way am I justifying mine or Melvin’s actions but what I do realize is that our experiences are linked to conditions such as Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism and DAMP. It is very easy for people like Melvin and me to focus on the negative as opposed to the positive. We could have had a great day but one tiny thing happened that didn’t go our way and the whole day is spoiled. Fortunately, unlike Melvin, I have learned to focus on the good and not let one small mishap spoil things. As for Melvin, I know he will never be capable of the change so I must grin and bear it while giving him the support he needs.
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