When was the last time you have ever gotten fed up with the media about something? Recently, we have heard about things like the Tiger Woods affair, Obama sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and the H1N1 virus (the swine flu). The sad fact is the media focuses on just about everything negative that happens. When I turn on the news every day, you expect to hear about which bank in Pittsburgh was robbed, who is cheating on who, and who has gotten arrested. If you watch Fox News, you also notice the people yelling and arguing about political and social issues that are happening in the world. There are also many people in the media who disrespect the private lives of celebrities. When I check out at Wal-Mart, you see all of those celebrity gossip magazines. Those magazines are the reason for why punk rock band Bowling For Soup wrote their song “High School Never Ends”. The social politics of high school still exist in the media. You will always hear about who is having sex, who is arrested for drugs, and who has gotten caught drinking.
As you know, I experience one thing that has always been a very controversial topic in today’s society. It is Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a mild form of Autism. You hear about non-profit organizations like Autism speaks and how they are trying to search for a cure. They still think Autism is a “disease” even though scientists have proved that it is not true. Autism is really a neurological brain disorder. A neurological disorder is a disorder that affects the nervous system. Like all neurological disorders, Autism is not curable and the symptoms are very difficult to treat.
You read my review of John Elder Robison’s “Look Me In The Eye” and my blogs explaining the rules from Temple Grandin’s “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships”. People don’t understand what Autism really is, and people never will fully understand what it is. These books have given people a better understanding of what Autism is, and they have given people a better understanding of what their Autism means to them. Like I said in the dedication for my book, people will understand your diagnosis more if you think hard about your experiences and write about them. And again, it does not matter whether it ends up being published. That is the main reason I encourage people to write about their life experiences.
One particular story that helped me understand my diagnosis even more is Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Nighttime”. The book is an “autistic account” of the Sherlock Holmes murder mysteries. The case he is investigating is the death of his neighbor’s dog Wellington, who belongs to Mrs. Shears, a woman who lives across the street from him. He found a fork impaled in Wellington’s body. His parents are a working class type of couple, and they don’t have the patience or the education to understand his diagnosis.When the police came to investigate the situation, Christopher hit a police officer because he touched him because he was trying to help him stand up. As result of that, he was sentenced to a night in jail. Christopher John Francis Boone is a teenage autistic boy from Europe. He is a teenager with an above average IQ who knows all the worlds countries and their capitals. He also knows every single prime number up to 7,057. Because of his quirks and his parents not understand his diagnosis, he has been through some extremely difficult times as a teenager. I have been through many similar situations in my life, so I can relate to Christopher in many ways.
Because of his above average intelligence and his odd interests, he has experienced quite a bit of discrimination throughout the book. In my memoir, I am going to touch on some of the false things the media says about Autism. Like I said in the beginning of this blog, the media often thinks that Autism is a death sentence and a disease that “somehow” will be cured. People believe what the media says, no matter what the issue is. Because of the ignorant things the media says, people believe it. There are numerous parts of the book that people have discriminated Christopher. Because of how people thought he was “socially hopeless”, they have told him that he would only be capable of getting a job “collecting super market trolleys” or “scooping donkey shit at an animal sanctuary”. Christopher was told this by a boy named Terry, who was apparently jealous of Chris because of his above average intelligence and cleverness. Terry would call him named like “spaz” and would say “they don’t let spazzers drive rockets that cost billions of pounds”. Terry thought he was “spastic”.
I have been through similar experiences, and I have seen other kids on the spectrum go through the same thing. One students shared a particular experience at Computing Workshop, the summer camp program I work at. We had a staff member who told a story about one of his former computer teachers in high school. This particular teacher didn’t like the fact that this student had a difficulty with spelling. In the class, the students would often do activities that involved researching things on the Internet. This particular student really enjoyed researching things on the Internet, and he was very gifted at it. He wanted to participate in the activities, but the teacher wouldn’t let him. One day he asked if if he would participate, the teacher then snapped and said “You will not participate in the Internet research activity until you can spell perfectly”. Instead, the teacher would have the student correct all of the spelling mistakes he made on all of the previous projects they participated in. The teacher was punishing him for his difficulty spelling words correctly.
Kids with Asperger’s Syndrome often have difficulty understanding humor, idioms and sarcasm. At the beginning of the book, Christopher quotes “This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them”. One thing about humor and sarcasm that can be risky for kids like me is we have a difficulty understanding whether or not someone is being serious versus being sarcastic. I have been through many situations where people have tricked me into thinking they were just merely trying to be friends with me, but they were really trying to belittle me and set me up. Throughout my years in school, there was one particular kid that seemed to realize that I didn’t understand whether someone was really my friend or not. They would walk up to me in a very friendly and polite manner, then I turned around and they would say something really rude and disrespectful to me. I didn’t understand the social rule “Not Everyone Who Is Nice To Me Is My Friend”. In elementary school, this kid tried to convince me into saying something inappropriate to a teacher, he thought it would be funny for me to get into trouble. I went with his “advice” and I recieved lunch detention for a whole week. During my freshman year of high school, this person tried to pull off another stunt like that, but this time I ignored him. I wasn’t going to fall for his tricks this time.Teenagers often playfully joke around with each other, it is their way of bonding with their friends. There have been instances where people have told me jokes, and I took it the wrong way and thought they were really trying to “badly tease” me. Playfully joking around is “good teasing” and bullying and harassing is “bad teasing”. When the kid in elementary school convinced me into saying that inappropriate joke to the teacher, I made the mistake of thinking he was playing around with me when he really was trying to bully me. I don’t like it when people I barely know use sarcastic humor around me because it will make me think they are trying to belittle me. I am afraid I will take the joke the wrong way by saying it to someone else and getting into trouble, or being offended by it and overreacting. I will use humor around people I know well, not people I barely know.
In this blog, I just wanted to give people a general description of the book. If you want to find out more about the book, I would recommend reading it. This book is great for anybody who enjoys murder mysteries, and it is great for anybody who wants to understand the Autistic brain. On the bottom of the page, I have provided a link to the book and an unabridged audio version of the story.
Unabridged Audio book:
The 10 myths about Autism: (Wrongplanet.net)