True Confessions

by pjmcbride

{Note: There was originally a line here that I edited out, and I can’t figure out how to make the white space go away, so I substituted this line in its place. Carry on.} {Yeah, I know this is more than one line, but I care insufficiently to do anything about it. Proceed.}


On the Anonymously Autistic blog, where I’ve been loitering lately, I found the official diagnostic definition here. (<== Look! Did you see that? I made a link! My first ever! This Blog School is turning out to be worthwhile after all! Maybe I better restrain my enthusiasm until I publish this and see if it actually works.) Leaving aside the obsessive way in which I carefully checked off each of the listed attributes and rated them for level of severity, I think I can put your doubts to rest with two simple observations:

  1. I rock back and forth when I listen to music. They call this “self-soothing” behavior, which I originally took issue with, thinking, “How would I feel if I didn’t do it? Oh–nervous and twitchy. OK.”
  2. As I walk along {“I wonder what went wrong, with our love, the love that was so strong…” Sorry. Too much listening to music.}, I often recite sequential lists of dates. I will not bore you with how these dates are selected.
  3. OK, make that 3 observations: I have difficulty recognizing people’s faces if I encounter them outside of their accustomed settings–colleagues outside of work, parishioners outside of church, Nick pretty much everywhere, etc. (I worked with that poor thing IN THE SAME ROOM, ON THE SAME SHIFT, FOR A YEAR–or so he claims–and don’t remember it.) My husband is the only exception. So if you run into me at Walgreen’s, or follow me down the street in your vehicle hoping to give me a ride, expect a blank stare initially. The only way to avoid that is to live with me for years. No, I’m not inviting you to move in.

Where the “high-functioning” thing (or maybe just “maturity”) comes in is, I’ve learned to not display my weirder traits in public, and I’ve also mastered Life Skills 101 (although I’m not sure about Life Skills 201). For example, not knowing how to dress properly got me in trouble at 3 different jobs. Since there were no dress codes to tell me exactly how to proceed, I just wore what I did when I wasn’t working. Back then, that involved lots of see-through shirts, halter tops, and black goth-y stuff that hadn’t yet become fashionable. So one supervisor told me, “Just because there’s no dress code doesn’t mean you can wear whatever you want.” See, I’d thought that was exactly what it meant. The “obvious” alternative–looking around to see what other employees were wearing–simply never occurred to me. How did I eventually discover that tactic? I read it in an article. Combine that sort of thing with my belief that making sustained eye contact with anyone will turn me to stone, and you can see why employers used to edge me out as soon as they could figure a way that wouldn’t involve paying me unemployment benefits.

Along with Life Skills, a structured and/or familiar environment helps a great deal, so I know just what to expect. I also have various Rules, so I don’t take forever to make decisions like, Where should I sit on this bus? What color underwear should I put on today? (Although I actually make those particular decisions in the reverse order from the way I just listed them.) (You know, it JUST OCCURRED TO ME that I could solve that one problem by just buying all-white underwear. You learn something new every day!)

Also, here (again from Anonymously Autistic) is an example of how one can “build” small talk “from the ground up,” so to speak.

Well, that was somewhat embarrassing, but I’ll live. Enough about me and why I’m weird. I’ve already dawdled over this post for too long, afflicted with “but what if they don’t want to read about my problems?” Well, if you don’t want to read about my problems, YOU’RE IN THE WRONG PLACE.


I have scratchy glitter on me from carrying Christmas packages. This is not optimum.


I’m happy because I discovered rose-scented Vaseline for my lips.


“Real-Life Grinch Caught On Video Stabbing Inflatable Snowman.” Yes, Yes, YES!!!