Ashburger’s Syndrome (Part 1)

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Ashburger’s Syndrome (Part 1)

Paper aeroplane flying towards the office bin.

I'm clumsy. I've always been clumsy. People are terrified of telling me to take a break because I do. I break cups, glasses, plates – you name it. They nicknamed me Zorba the Greek, one place I worked because of this. Talking of jobs – with me they've always been few and far between. nothing lasts long. I either get bored and leave or get sacked.

'Now look what you've done!'

or 'What happened to that order I gave you, to send out to Mr Harvey on the eighth?' (Well he didn't specify which month, did he?).

To say I was socially inept, is mildly true too. If I had a drink in my hand, I’d either drop it or spill it on someone.

'You clumsy idiot!' (Well yes, I know that – can you be more specific or add something else of interest to that point?).

I was never a great talker and got on better with kids and animals, than I ever did with adults or the human race altogether.

'Stop grimacing at me, you nutter!' And other plaudits like this, would come my way. Talk? How could I? I could barely get my body to work, let alone my brain. Occasionally I'd let slip a terrible pun, to break the ice, in social situations. Every time I tried to be clever, an uncoordinated load of stumbling rubbish would come out.

'What do you mean, I-I-I, ig ag ooh?'

Ruthless mickey takers at work or down the pub, would plough right into me as soon as I opened my mouth, so I shut up again or I'd burst into hysterical laughter as I found the joke funnier than anyone else.

'For Christ's sake shut up! The joke's over!'

Then there were the times I couldn't understand what anybody else said. It was like that Far Side cartoon – What you say and what a dog hears:

'Blah, blah Rover. Rover blah, blah.'

It was like I was hearing a foreign language or none at all.

'Cat got your tongue? Well it bloody should have – you don't use it enough, to need it!' (Ha-ha – very funny I thought but couldn't stand the humiliation of trying to actually say it).

Hugh and Milly Asian? Now that's a couple I know well! Yes, my literal sense of humour categorized me as autistic, even if nothing else did. Then there was phonetic spelling.

'That's not how you spell it Wright – get a dictionary!' (Wright, wrong again! School, who needs it? If they want to spell it that way, why can't they say it that way too? It's all so jumbled up and illogical!).

There's some legend that says having Asperger's makes you a mathematical genius – not me. On the way to school I obsessively count the telephone poles, yes, but I couldn't add up to save my life or yours, when in the classroom. Oh yes, the stories of us being selfish and self-centred are true. We live in our own little world and you can't enter, even with a valid passport. Our borders are closed, Mr Schickelgruber, and nobody can come through without our express permission, so turn your tanks round and go home.

We are a strange mix of contradictions – egotistical, blunt in our speech, when we do open our mouths. Bloody-minded and stubborn, yet fearing confrontation because in a fight, we wouldn't know when to stop – at least that is what we believe. It takes a hell of a lot to get us going and just as much to put the brakes on: Quick to anger, slow to cool down and come back into Earth orbit, if we don't miss it altogether. Innocent, vulnerable, trusting and blundering. It is this openness and honesty that turns us into the brainy creature we so often are. While others play about in the classroom or outside it in the playground, developing their social skills through interaction, we shut up, sit still and, look and learn. We shut them out and let the light of understanding in. Ordinary people connect with the outside world, through talk and physical contact – not us. We are geeky, clumsy and inappropriate in our comments and movements, but we connect internally with ideas. They can dance, play football, cake on make up or make cupcakes, but not us. Books are our only friends – failing that, our computer screens are. We'd rather text than talk, write and read rather than speak – even to each other. We want to know how the universe works and maybe even one day, we'll find out how we work, but not today, oh no, not today...

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