I’ve spent the past almost decade saying “I should have been diagnosed”. Through deep delving into my own psyche and experiences, long conversations with like-undiagnosed friends, and brief back-and-forth with my sister and mother; it felt so relatable.
I was an extremely sensitive, overly shy, highly imaginative, fiercely independent kid. I was selectively mute. I did not speak to adults other than my parents. I spoke only to my immediate family and a few select friends. I played aloneMy big cousin, tell me of asking little 3 year old me why I didn’t talk to her mommy. I shrugged. With coaxing, I managed to tell my Aunt, “Merry Christmas”. I was 3 1/2 and it was the first ‘outside’ adult I ever spoke to. I was “very cautious” my dad says. I sat down and crawled over floor transitions long after I learned to walk. My mother tells us they didn’t want us to have labels. Such an 80’s mentality….
I remember French Preschool. I was in it because my bff was part French Canadien and would be going into French Immersion. Everyone is sitting around in a circle on the carpet. Everyone is taking turns to say this weird word. I do not know it. I do not know what it means. I do not know what it looks like. So, I do not know how to say it. The word goes around the circle. They all do it. They all know it. I’m an outsider and I’m terrified. I don’t speak. The teachers try to coax me. It’s apparently a big deal to everyone else. The word was “bonjour”.
My daycare centre was not my favourite place. I can’t tell you why, but I do remember crying there All. The. Time. One day I cried, asking for my parents and not understanding why I couldn’t see them. The workers put me in an empty room by myself to get me to stop crying. I was scared and lonely, so I cried more. It was someone’s birthday and there were cupcakes. I was told I could only have a cupcake if I stopped crying and was allowed out. I cried more.
We took a lot of road trips throughout the province for camping, family visits, sightseeing. I couldn’t do much in the car without getting nauseous. So, as a young elementary kid, I taught myself how to determine travel time. I would watch out the window until we passed a sign depicting KM’s to the next town. I would then look at the speedometer and the clock. I feel like I had to re create my equation most road trip, but I could, in my head, calculate within a few minutes when we would arrive at the next town. For fun I would check my answers at the next road sign.
My favourite ever class in Elementary school was when my Grade 7 teacher set up for myself and 4 other kids to work in the hallway at our own pace. We had our textbook and went through the math working on as many or as few questions as we needed to for each unit. I finished the book easily. Being in charge of my own learning like that was liberating!
I could read by age three, but didn’t want to seem odd. So I told my parents I would read again when I was suppose to. Also at three I wanted to learn chess. My dad told me that when I was old enough to set up the board, I would be old enough to learn. He stuck to his word when I came back shortly after to show him the correctly set chess board.
I hated food based on its colour, texture, or acidity. I made my own dinner every day for a couple preschooler years: peanut butter sandwich and a yogurt. This still surprises me because yogurt has one of the worst textures…
I had reoccurring nightmares when we first moved into our house. I was 5. An old man was stabbed in the back and died. I can still see it. His image and spirit haunted me until I moved out of that house.
Due to some poor babysitter choices (my older sister and cousin), I saw some horror movies way too young. For all of childhood after that, Chucky was standing at the top of the stairs, tucked just around the corner so I wouldn’t see him until I turned to go into my bedroom. Freddy Krueger was going to come out of the toilet if I stayed in that room too long. I can still see his hat appearing.
I had zero sense of my body. I was about 8 when my parents gave up listening to me sniffle or trying to teach me how to blow air out of my nose. I feel like it was a couple hours that they left me in the bathroom to come out once I blew my nose. I remember just not comprehending how to put all the simple steps together into a fluid system.
I had to go to a physical therapist when I was about 11 for serious knee pain. They repeatedly tried to direct me to “flex that muscle”. I remember being in tears trying to figure out how to move my body in the ways they needed me to.
I loved basketball and was relatively good at it. Despite my lack of height, I could make a basket, I could run to get into position and get open. Setting up defensive blocks made me feel a power that my normally tiny self did not feel. But I could not show those skills when it came to the drills. I could sink a basket on my own, but I could’t “do a lay-up”as I just could not get my legs to do the steps while my arms did the ball work while my head thought about where on the backboard the ball was going to hit. If they just let me do my own thing, I’m sure I could have been a star! (well, a star as far as the 10 year olds go)