When people speak of Autism, one of the positives that are often spoken of include some savant skill, or some amazing ability to memorize incredible, detailed information on a specific subject. It is as if… “yes, you have all of these struggles, but then this gift kind of makes up for it.” Only I don’t have that gift, and am left with…
Even as I write this post the words won’t come out right. My son is gifted when it comes to computers, and understanding programming language (or even picking up languages in general.) My friend seems to be gifted in understanding English (grammar, vocabulary and such.) Even my husband, who is not Autistic, has a mind full of trivial facts about just about everything. When I am in their company, though they are some of my favourite people in the world, I feel quite… slow.
It isn’t that I can’t memorize facts. When I had ‘my’ children, I could from memory explain everything there was to know about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Focal Cortical Dysplasia, and Large Vestibular Aqueducts. Both when I was taking my Early Childhood Education and years later my Residential Construction programs at college, I also held a head full of knowledge on these subjects, and was top of my class in both courses.
And very much as is true of other people with Autism, I bored other people spewing off far too many facts, and even apparently overwhelmed the social workers involved by telling them too many details of what was happening with my children, and why. I do that.
Also very much like Autism, I participated too much when I was in my college courses (and not at all through grade school as I was selectively mute) in answering questions, asking questions, and sharing my experiences – so much that most of my classmates became annoyed with me; yet I could not stop. I had to know. I had to share.
The thing is, though, when I move on from such fixations, I don’t retain all of the knowledge that I gained in that time. I remember some things, but the time spent – even when that time is years – becomes more like a dream that fades over time, and with it, my knowledge on the subject.
I have no real gifts. I would love to be able to sing, or play an instrument, or be gifted in drawing, painting, or some other artistic pursuit. I would love to have something that I was really good at. But I am not.
Last night my husband and I were at Life Group, and we watched a video on Origins. Basically it was scientists explaining how they spent years trying to prove theories that life on Earth happened by random chance, and many became Christians when they found that to have life start from nothing was impossible, and therefore life must be the result of intelligent design.
I have been reading The Case for Faith (Lee Strobel) which in parts talked about that very thing. It is something that interests me. Yet here I was in a room full of intelligent Christians, and all of them had much to say on the subject, yet I felt completely inadequate in speaking in that group. As the only Autistic individual in a group speaking on a subject that interests me very much, shouldn’t I have at least been able to keep up my part of the conversation? Surely I should have had something to say.
Nothing. Not one word. And once more I was feeling really slow, and as if I had nothing worthwhile to offer to the group. If only there was something I was good at…