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Autism: What Was Wrong With Me?

05 Mar

It was a big snowstorm. I don’t remember another like it, and as far as memory serves, we never had so much snow again in my life. So of course the schools were out, and my brother and I were home.

We lived in a semi-detached house, and our previous neighbours had moved away. My mother was shoveling the driveway, and my older brother and I were playing in the front yard. We were digging tunnels, and from what I remember, it was over my seven year old head.

Coming up to the middle of the property, we noticed a woman shoveling the driveway next to us – our new neighbours! And my brother decided to ask her if she had any children (he was much more social than me.) She had two, and went to get them. R. was 4 at the time, and A. was 2. They were too young for my brother to play with, but R. and I spent the next 5 years as friends.

I would have even gone as far as to say she was my best friend, and aside from family (namely my older brother and a younger cousin) she was also my first real friend. Her parents were from Jamaica, and for some reason, a lot of people commented on our friendship – that we didn’t seem to notice a difference, or something?!?

90's and earlier 008

Well, one time she had an aunt come to visit. She kept a chicken – a live chicken – under her bed! That was different (and fun!)

Anyway, we spent a lot of time together – especially during the year my younger brother was in the hospital, when her parents would watch me. I thought we were really good friends. But then there was that time in school. She was in first grade, and I was in fourth, and we were out on the playground together. R. was highly extroverted, and had many friends in her class.

On this day, rather than stand against a wall waiting for break to be over – as I usually did – when I saw R. outside (her first time on the same playground,) I tried to go play with her. Only the friend that she was playing with at the time (C.) didn’t want to play with me. I didn’t understand. R. was my friend (too) and up until that point, she always wanted to play with me.

At the advice of C. however, R. went and complained to the teacher that I wouldn’t leave her alone – and the teacher made me walk away. After that, R. wouldn’t play with me at school. I guess her friends didn’t like me. Even at home, she would only play with me when none of her friends were around. I don’t know.

We were in the same school until I reached eighth grade, but never again would she play with me at school – and after that day, as was true before, I spent most of my breaks standing against the wall waiting for them to end.

Even when I had a friend, I really didn’t, and I began then – more than any time before – to question what was wrong with me.

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