I survived my childhood. I got through elementary school even though I did no homework, never studied for quizzes or tests, and almost never spoke with a teacher. These things confused and scared me. Instead I played or read alone in the backyards of foulmouthed, chain-smoking babysitters whose only interaction with me consisted of calling loudly at noon to come eat a bologna sandwich on spongy store-brand white bread, which I washed down with grape Kool-Aid before disappearing back outside to be alone. I was a master of disappearing.
I walked the halls of my school as if in an extended daydream. When I got home I lit out for the woods or hopped on my bike and rode to the newsstand where I bought penny candy and Spider-Man comic books, or played arcade games like Ms.Pac-Man in the back room.
Adults called me shy and oversensitive, and constantly scolded me for it. I distrusted most of them. They lacked imagination.
As a teenager I had zero interest in the majority of coursework high school offered and would wing it for an overall GPA of about 2.3 out of 4, or a C+. I would be suspended from school for a run-in with the principal, get a tattoo and a motorcycle, shotgun cans of frothy Utica Club and smoke blunts by bonfires on country roads, become the slightly-better-than-average captain of our wrestling team and the decidedly-below-average boyfriend to a string of girls who deserved literally anyone else at all. Even by teenage boy standards, I lacked self-awareness and couldn’t possibly imagine who constituted a healthy relationship.
I just didn’t get how to do things, how to connect, how to be. I didn’t know why it was so hard for me when it was so easy for others.
From “On the Spectrum: Autism, Faith, and the Gifts of Neurodiversity” by Daniel Bowman Jr.