So I want to talk about Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorder or whatever term you want to us, and me. It’s not something I usually talk about because, well,I feel like I’m preaching to the choir. Of the people I deal with on a regular basis, both friends and family, offline and real world, most of them are or could be on the spectrum, or have family who are. So this is my version of normal 🙂 So I don’t feel these is anything to talk about.
But what are the actual figures for ASD? 1 in 100? 1 in 80? 1 in 60? That means it actually very much a minority, and there are things that need to be said so I want to start saying them. They might only be read by the usual people, but maybe it will prompt them to say things, which will be heard by more people. A pyramid scheme!
So, me. But first I’ll add, I’m talking about what’s usually referred to as Asperger’s Sydrome or high functioning autism, and not gong to differentiate between those for reasons that have to with labelling people and the problems that causes, which I might or might not get around to writing about.
I’ll write a little bio thing first, so there’s some background, and that will probably be all for this post. (Should I number them or something? Or just use a tag?)
Right. I was born in Launceston, Tasmania, at the Queen Victoria Hospital on the hill. At the time my parents were living in a flat Talbot Rd and I think they then moved to Evandale for a while, which is where my mother grew up. Then we moved up the coast, to Sulphur Creek and then Somerset. Somerset is the first place I remember. You could see the sea from the corner window of the living room. Here my sister was born (actually she was born in Burnie, but this is where we were living) and where I was Very Sick.
Moved back to Launceston at the time I started kindergarten. Here we lived in a former-Housing Department house in Ravenswood, which is one of those suburbs that results when governments think putting the socially disadvantaged people in one place away from the rest of the city is a good idea. While we were there, they built a shopping centre with library, community centre & health centre, which were a block or two from our house, which was rather handy and the schools were within walking distance. Which is not so handy from a kid’s point of view. I was, of course, a nice, quiet, well-behaved kid at school. Liked to read. Didn’t play with the other kids. Got top marks without trying. In primary school, I was pulled out for advanced language classes. I also went to clarinet classes at the high school and had tennis lessons in the morning, and we won’t mention the ballet. At high school, they tried extra-curricular maths lessons, because “they” believe I was good at maths, and the senior English teacher let me use the type-write in her study. Mostly I hated school. Brother came along during this time.
Right after I finished at high school we moved to St Leonards (literally right after, grade 10 finished at the end of November and we moved in December). St Leonards is a suburb of Launceston that used to be a town in its own right and, at least in the 1980s, it still retained some of the small town characters. Physically:at the intersection of major roads, there was a pub, service station, supermarket and other small shops; then the school, two memorial halls and three church. Socially: everyone knew everyone’s business. We lived on a little street behind the shops that had been recently sub-divided. Mum built a house there (she designed in and sub-contracted to build it) and while it was being built we lived in a caravan and two tents. It was possibly the wettest, wildest summer I’ve known. The tent that was being used as the living & cooking room, with the lounge suite and a big cupboard in it, blew over one night. With an acre of land, we had a goat, some sheep, chooks, ducks, cats, dogs, and rabbits.
I went to matric (years 11 & 12). Hated that. Went to uni and did a science degree (actually maths, computing, geography & biology), which was a bad idea. I can’t do maths. Really. It’s too abstract. After that, did education. This was an even worse idea so we won’t talk about it, or the following years, except for the year I ran off to Adelaide with two suitcases & my dog to study archaeology. Half of that time I stayed with Sam (a friend I’ve known since… she says pre-school but it couldn’t have been) and half in a two-bedroom unit with a blow-up mattress and a box for a computer desk. Who needs white goods 🙂 This is when I first got to know on-line people (via newsgroups & SFF Net.)
Moved back to Launceston, lived in the house adjoining the service station at St Leonards, opposite the supermarket and pub. Started an IT traineeship, which was… interesting and ended up with me moving to Hobart to work for the state government for 6 months. Now that was an interesting. On one hand I was very isolated, once I stopped working at DELM I had little contact with people. Never had any luck “making friends” or joining social groups, but I did have online peoples. On the other hand, I was living in North Hobart, in a conjoined cottage held together by 3 layers of wallpaper & paint, & an outside toilet; but it was walking distance to the city or three buses every ten minutes, and, for those who might not know this, I love Hobart. It sings to me. It feels like anything is possible.
But real world interfered. Housing prices went stupid, the guy next door bought both cottages to make into a house, and it was impossible to find somewhere to rent with a dog. Had to choose between giving up my city or giving up my pup.
Moved back to Launceston. Lived at Newnham for a while. The northern suburbs: university students, Housing Department areas, second biggest shopping “centre” outside of the CBD and the best bus service in the city. Events are too recent now for me to remember them in sequence. Was working 4 hours a week at Ravenswood Neighbour House for a while. Not really a good thing. Started volunteering at the museum. That was a good thing. Ran a stall with sister at the market selling coins & stamps. That was both good & bad. Interesting? Pup died. Not so good. I can’t remember the next couple of years. I guess nothing of interesting happened.
Then I turned 40, as you do, and soon after things Things Changed.
(Image: night sky, North Hobart.)