My daughter’s early years self portrait.

Some of us have a middle name given to us on our birth certificates. Most of us also have the one we earned from our parents later in life once they got to know us better. I believe mine was “know it all”.  Some are more colorful like the one my daughter heard from me growing up:  “What the hell is wrong with you?”

She was always odd and impolite and just… some kids make animal noises in response to questions and talk to themselves – a lot. Right?

We knew something wasn’t clicking early one. In second grade the school system put her through a series of tests for just about everything and came up empty. No ADD, dyslexia, or road rage or whatever else they tested for.  Autism wasn’t on anyone’s radar then, however. The idea that she might have Asperger’s didn’t come up until a several months ago. She’ll undergo testing in July.*

Asperger’s is a high functioning form of autism. Although severity and symptoms vary, most have problems with personal interaction. My daughter doesn’t adhere to the socially acceptable behavior norms.

And that bothers the muggles.

I didn’t think too much of it when she was younger, since she was only a little more odd than I was.  We are both are introverted, but it’s more than that, such as:

  • She gets visibly nervous if someone stands too close or brushes her as they pass. She’s shared a few months ago that someone touching her back causes her physical pain.
  • For me, mundane small talk that make others comfortable has grown tolerable. It used to be wrist-cuttingly I-need-to-escape painful. She is only capable of a sentence or two with strangers before she begins to shut down.  (Then again, she’s a teenager and the answer to everything is “fine” or “good” in general with them anyway.)
  • And, may your Gods help you if you try to hug either of us without any advance “hey, I’m coming in” warning. We’ll probably cut you.

Related Side Note:  My daughter was carrying scissors around in her jacket pocket for a while, so that may have actually happened. There may be a very bubbly cheerleader type walking around with uneven bangs.

I’m looking forward to the next step after she’s tested so that she can continue to overcome and fit in like I’ve (mostly) learned to do.  I picture group meetings with people sitting and staring at each other from under Ray-Bans while talking to themselves. **

It took some time to decide whether she should undergo the testing. I worried about the diagnosis stigma and I still struggle with having to conform to the norm. Or maybe it’s how the word normal is just thrown around.  I’ve seen what normal looks like to most people.

I like being a bit different and I know she does too.

We’re both actually very nice and caring people. Shirt off the back type folk. We just often find socially acceptable behaviors overwhelming. And annoying. And completely unnecessary.

Yes, I know, I know…we all have to obey traffic lights, wear shirts and shoes to get service, and talk about the weather.  I get it.  And I’m working on that with her.  The weather talk, I mean.  To my knowledge she’s wears shirts in public although I should probably confirm the traffic lights.

*At this point a diagnosis won’t make a difference for me. All ink blots are phoenix birds anyway. Everyone knows that.

**My daughter and I took a road trip last year, nearly five hours each way. The longest sentence uttered was “Are we there yet?” and that was from me. We were both perfectly comfortable in silence or muttering to ourselves. We were glad no one else came with us. Those people were probably happy about that too.