He also opened my eyes into the brain, thought patterns, and quirks of Aspies. Reading this book has been an education in itself. It's not only educational, but funny, sad, and horrific as we follow his life as an Aspie before there was an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
His mother was falling into her own crazy world while his father was deep in depression and wine bottles. He suffered in school due to the lack of understanding of this disorder (but he doesn't like the word disorder). We follow his life from birth until he decided to write this book at the prompting of his brother (author of Running with Scissors).
He was diagnosed by a psychologist friend while in his forties, giving him a deep sense of relief to find out he only has Asperger's. Despite all of the trauma suffered at the hands of his parents he became a success in life possibly due to his Asperger's. A super, eye-opening read!
Excerpt from the book:
A Little Misfit
It was inconceivable to me that there could be more than one way to play in the dirt, but there it was. Doug couldn't get it right. And that's why I whacked him. Bang! On both ears, just like I saw on The Three Stooges. Being three years old was no excuse for disorderly play
For example, I would use my mother's kitchen spoon to scoop out a ditch. Then, I would carefully lay out a line of blue blocks. I never mixed my food, and I never mixed my blocks. Blue blocks went with blue blocks, and red blocks with red ones. But Doug would lean over and put a red block on top of the blue ones.
Couldn't he see how wrong that was?
After I had whacked him, I sat back down and played. Correctly.
Sometimes, when I got frustrated with Doug, my mother would walk over and yell at me. I don't think she ever saw the terrible things he did. She just saw me whack him. I could usually ignore her, but if my father was there, too, he would get really mad and shake me, and then I would cry.
Most of the time, I liked Doug. He was my first friend. But some of the things he did were just too much for me to handle. I would park my truck by a log, and he would kick dirt on it. Our moms would give us blocks, and he would heap his in a sloppy pile and then giggle about it. It drove me wild.
Our playdates came to an abrupt end the following spring. Doug's father graduated from medical school and they moved far, far away to an Indian reservation in Billings, Montana. I didn't really understand that he could leave despite my wishes to the contrary. Even if he didn't know how to play correctly, he was my only regular playmate. I was sad.
I asked my mother about him each time we went to the park, where I now played alone. "I'm sure he'll send you a postcard," my mother said, but she had a funny look on her face, and I didn't know what to make of it. It was troubling.
I did hear the mothers whispering, but I never knew what they meant.
".. . drowned in an irrigation ditch. . ."
".. . the water was only six inches deep. . ."
".. . must have fallen on his face. . ."
".. . his mother couldn't see him, so she went outside and found him there. . ."
What is an irrigation ditch? I wondered. All I could figure out was, they weren't talking about me. I had no idea Doug was dead until years later.
Looking back, maybe my friendship with Doug wasn't the best omen. But at least I stopped whacking other kids. Somehow I figured out that whacking does not foster lasting friendship.