This will be my story, in brief. It won’t have a lot of detail, but it should give you an understanding of where I am coming from. As I get my blog going, I will expand on the content which will be found here.
I could read by the time I was one.
Maybe before. But my parents definitely knew I was reading – and comprehending – by the time I was one. Despite the fact that I was speech-delayed, my parents still knew I could understand. They presumed competence. They thought my early reading skill was cool. There’s a lot of photos of me reading at various early ages. Smiling. Absolutely delighted by books.
A lot of stories have been told about my early reading skills too. Stories which amuse me. Enlighten me. And are, in fact, the only reason I ever learned I am autistic. But more about that later.
They showed my talent off to friends who were equally amazed. When I hear about it, I think, “You showed me off as a party trick?”
But, it makes me smile and laugh, in a good way. That they saw me as so smart. Because smart isn’t a way I felt at all during most of my life.
Mostly, I felt stupid. I still do. Stupid is an ableist word, and I try not to use it. And I ask you to try not to use it either. (Read more about that here.)
But that is the word that I thought described me for most of my life, so that is why I am sharing that specific word with you now.
I think I really learned to talk in preschool, thanks to singing nursery rhymes. Before that, since I also had trouble with several of the letters (and still do with some), I made up my own words. My parents decided to learn my words instead of trying to force me to say words I physically couldn’t.
My birthday fell late in the year, so I was held back for that reason. This meant that I was always one of the oldest in my class, but “emotionally immature” or “emotionally behind” my classmates.
When you’re in preschool, kindergarten, and even first grade or so, this doesn’t matter much. But the older you get, believe me, the more it matters.
A hell of a lot.
Think about it this way. You have a kid who is clearly advanced in all areas. They are bored in school. So you have them skip a grade. And then another. Maybe even another. Maybe they’re one of those kids we see in the news who graduates college at 15.
Impressive intellect? Sure.
But imagine coming into the age and interest of dating . . . and all of your classmates would be forever marked as a sexual offender for dating you because they are so much older than you are. Mentally, you’re on their page. Physically and emotionally? Not so much. But they’re the pool you have to pick from because kids your own age? There’s no common ground. You don’t share any of the same interests.
So, that was me. Except I wasn’t skipped grades. Except for being put in Advanced Reading classes, I was put in the “slow” classes. Not quite Special Ed, but the last option before that.
Also, Advanced Reading was just an extra class I went to in a separate classroom with a handful of other students. Our numbers shrank the older we got.
I remember doing book reports on Little House on the Prairie in first grade. Everyone else was learning how to read words like dog and spot. I had to be in that regular class too. I remember telling my teacher I already knew all the words she had on the blackboard, and she told me, “Shut up and do your work.”
I didn’t speak up again in that class.
Between that and extreme shyness and anxiety, after that, I spoke up as little as possible in class.
The less people looked at me? The better.
I excelled at faking laryngitis so I didn’t have to speak up, or read sections from books, or read papers I’d written.
Coming as soon as possible.
Last updated 2 March 2018.