One of the things I have enjoyed about Gill’s current job is that she must do lots of research. It so happens that much of this research is medical — everything from nuclear medicine to Alzheimer’s, to Autism. With so many medical conditions herself, she is no doubt trying to get the jump on anything that smells of a cure — before the world at large finds out about it. She wants to jump the queue, as it were.
She has been particularly drawn to research on Autism and every few days sends me ‘nuggets’ of info about The Spectrum. I assumed, since she has a friend with a young child with Asberger’s (part of The Spectrum) that she was researching on her friend’s behalf. She loves the wee boy, enjoys spending time with him and loves his intelligence and focus on detail. How many little boys can turn a bathroom into their ‘office’ and spend the day shuffling papers, ‘organizing’ and consider office supplies to be the Best Toy Ever? Others might find it hard to understand the child, but for Gill, there is a special affinity between them. Now I know why. When she sends me items of news about Asberger’s, she is trying to make the point that she is also on the scale. And it would be a safe bet that L’il Sis and Crazy D are as well.
Oh, the relief I felt at being able to put a label on it! And here I thought they were just weird. Glad we can finally name it. I always feel better when something has a slot. After reading the signs to look for, she did (as she is wont to do) a self-diagnosis. Remarkably, it seemed quite accurate. As she said, “I have a whiff of Asberger’s about me.”
And sure enough, she had more than a whiff. As I like to describe it, it was like she had been standing in the line of fire of the perfume sprayer at the department store, being squirted so often there was a cloud of stink surrounding her person. You know, instead of a squirt of Chanel here and a puff of Giorgio there, it was a little OCD here, a little anxiety there, a bit of twitching and nervous flapping thrown in for good measure. And how did she arrive at this startling diagnosis? All was revealed in a three minute internet test which is, of course, a bastion of reliability.
When I questioned her about this, she noted, “That’s what I’ve come to: blame it on work. I spend my time writing obits to fill in time the last days of this job and making internet diagnoses for things I don’t have, should have, or might want to have. Though, you can see where I’m going with the Asberger’s.”
The more I considered the possibility, the more I COULD see where she was going with it. She bores easily but if given a task she likes to do, will become so focused she doesn’t care if her pants light on fire. If she is bored, she often sits in her chair, in something approximating the fetal position, rocking back and forth. Just incessantly rocking. As you readers can understand, this could be upsetting in an office setting. It doesn’t set the proper tone and could be unnerving for any clients who wander in expecting to see professional (or at least grownup) behaviour.
She has certain organizational peccadilloes like her friend’s son– things must be placed a certain way on her desk, in her closet, in the bathroom or she will obsess. She needs structure — oops, that may explain a lot. As you discerning readers may have noticed, she was not raised in a house with a lot of structure. In fact, the only structure was that there WAS no structure. She likes precision (only in some things– the things she deems worthy) and abhors change. Uh, oh…she is about to move jobs and cities. Batten down the hatches. She tells me her stomach is ‘singing’ — a sure sign that her Crohn’s is about to blow.
Gill and her siblings can be very sociable — so witty and funny and engaging that nobody would know they actually hate socializing in a group, don’t really like most people, and would all really rather be at home reading, spooning the dog, or ‘doing their own thing’ to the exclusion of all else. Think Crazy D who was recently trying to kill himself by falling off his bike into ditches and, now, in the middle of the Canadian north surrounded by trees and no people. His email from yesterday declared “I can’t wait to do this again next summer!”
I could dismiss Gill’s self-diagnoses as so much drivel, but she was the one who got scurvy, a disease that was pretty much eradicated last century. So I tread cautiously about contradicting her. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I believe she’s correct. It pains me to say that, but I am embracing The Spectrum as an explanation for my kids’ strange and curious behavior. It makes me feel better — especially now that they will be part of the ‘in’ group. First time ever!