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The Missed Opportunities

Hindsight is 2020. Although the things below don’t on their own indicate autism, taken together they are pretty strong clues. So I thought I’d list them.

When I was a child:

  • Being called “Robbo the Robot” at primary school
  • The complex tic I had (& being called “Sniffy” because of it)
  • Only ever having one or two friends
  • Zooming around on the carpet with my forehead pressed against it because I loved the feeling of carpet rushing against my forehead
  • Watching Open University on TV by choice during school holiday daytimes
  • Complaining about labels in my clothes
  • Building a geodesic sphere out of “straws and hubs” kits at school when other kids were making badly shaped donkeys, because platonic solids have inherent beauty (and, spookily, later doing a PhD with geodesic spheres being the subject!)
  • Being sent to sit in the year above’s maths lesson (I don’t remember why) and still being the first with my hand up answering all of the questions correctly (it was fractions & I was frustrated to be the only one who called a quarter a quarter and not “four”!)
  • Teachers getting frustrated with me when I wrote another factual piece about the geological structure of the Earth when what she had asked for was “a story”
  • Talking to the TV repair man about how TVs work when he visited to fix ours
  • Going train spotting with dad but mainly liking it for the sensory experience
  • Being obsessive about keeping my bedroom tidy as a teenager
  • Complaining “I don’t like getting wet” when asked to bathe or wash
  • Reading a science dictionary every night, often re-reading my favourite parts
  • Having favourite parts of a science dictionary!
  • Working out for myself how to write software to decode Morse code in real time from radio reception, and succeeding (also teletype news bulletins, and weather faxes)
  • Being fascinated by and soothed by distant spinning radars and flashing lights in the darkness of an evening in the countryside or on the beach
  • Loving the sensory feel of laminated reading comprehension folios – especially the new colour scheme when “going up a level”
  • Having a “reading age” of 13 when I was 7, but still having a reading age of 13 when I was 13.
  • Telling my friends to “Shush!” every 5 minutes when they slept over on my bedroom floor. They were breathing, and keeping me awake.

As an adult:

  • People noticing that I don’t get eye contact
  • Working out for myself how to write software to create “Magic eye” 3D pictures, and succeeding
  • Me, observing myself and saying to others “I don’t get hints so please be direct” and “I don’t give hints, I’ll just tell you”.
  • Completely, totally, being unable to relate to why anyone likes to watch football
  • Extended time off work with “depression”
  • A strong preference for communicating by email even within an office
  • Being told by therapists that some of my behaviours “seem immature”
  • Complaining about going on holidays
  • Hating sand, sandpaper, chalk
  • Struggling with wet clothes in swimming pool changing rooms
  • Maintaining a spreadsheet documenting all relevant life experiences with dates
  • Maintaining a financial model of household finances for over two decades, so far
  • Feeling intimidated in male-only spaces or in the company of only men
  • Finding it hard to go to a shop “on the way home from work” (I would come home first, then go out to the shop)
  • Eating the same foods (or a small selection on rotation) for lunch
  • Hating Christmas at university and work because of the way it disrupted the canteen menus
  • Not being able to go into my own garden in case I had to talk to a neighbour or (worse) their kids
  • Going back to edit blog posts to correct factual mistakes even though nobody reading would notice because the story is the same with the fact left uncorrected
  • Being susceptible to forming strong but unreciprocated attachments to people who are, actually, acquaintances and not friends
  • Being unable to make friends or maintain friendships

2 Replies to “The Missed Opportunities”

  1. Okay, this is Sara, not sure why it logged in under this name lol. New phone. Weird sh*t.

    I relate to a lot of this and also see my brother in a lot of this. Maybe I should do one like this. Hmmm. Not to copy like “mine is better” but more of like, why didn’t I think of this?! Haha

    Liked by 1 person

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