“They are often gifted in areas such as: music, math, science, computers…” One thing that really… hurts me, when I am reading about Autism, and especially Aspergers, is how it is often written as a given that people on the spectrum are often gifted in some way. “All you have to do is give them the opportunity to develop their gift,” they say.
Only I am not gifted. I don’t have perfect pitch. I can’t pick up a new instrument (or even one I have been practicing at for a while for that matter) and just play. I don’t have a flawless, or even a great memory. I can do well on tests, and I do remember dates – but that is much more due to my obsessive nature rather than any gifting in the area of memory.
I was not great at learning – and in fact was one of the last to learn anything being taught all through grade school (and high school as well.) That might have had more to do with the fact that I was one of the youngest in my grade, and was too shy to ask for help, or work with other children – but I was not intellectually gifted.
I did very well in both of my college courses (Early Childhood Education, and Residential Construction) but again, that had more to do with my OCD and anxiety (I was terrified of failing, and so compulsively studied, and researched, and thought of nothing else while I was in school) than having any strengths to speak of.
My sensory issues always stood in the way of learning Science as I would have liked, and I absolutely do not have a photographic memory. The only time I can remember things is when I am interested, and fixate on those subjects for days or years at a time. Even then, when I move on to something else, I often forget what I once knew as well as any specialist.
Perhaps what I am good at is filling in paperwork. For all of my adult life, this has been the consistent feedback, “you are meticulous in your paperwork,” “I have never had anyone who was so thorough,” this from writing I.E.P.s for my son’s homeschooling, for the projects I was asked to do as part of my adoption home study, for writing up information on my the areas where my children struggled, for the paperwork I handed to my doctor and psychiatrist when I went in for assessments… but once more, this is because I am compulsive. I must write neatly, detailed, thoroughly. I can’t do any less. It is not a gift, as gifts are thought, but an obsession.
While I may have been top of my class for construction level math, I couldn’t use my knowledge on the job site, and that level of math isn’t exactly what would be called a savant.
Though I enjoy doing them, I am still at a basic (child) level for arts and crafts. I like to write, but again, am not gifted in this area. I really struggle with grammar, and get overwhelmed with information when trying to learn new skills.
As for computers, I was afraid of them until my son came along, and taught me (at the age of 3, with no prior knowledge) how to use them without breaking them. Even still, they seem to suck the energy out of me, and I cannot spend all day on one as he does. In fact, in high school, when I was forced to use computers, I had a horrible… it wasn’t a habit, it isn’t like I knew how it happened, it just happened… of wiping out every computer I came into contact with.
I am not great with languages. I love animals, but as I have mentioned, my sensory issues precluded me from studying biology – and my emotional issues preclude me from working with animals as a living.
I am not great at cleaning. Definitely not a decorator. While I love plants, I struggle to keep them alive – and the design part of gardening is beyond me.
So when I read that Autistic people are often gifted in some area, it just tells me once more that I am a failure. I am not gifted. Does that make me less?