During my youth, I hated complications. I would make plans, and sometimes, make alternative plans, but if I got waylaid with something unexpected, it was game over. I avoided trying to tell someone directions like the plague, for I could see the route, but the directions came out muddled. Don’t even get me started on writing essays. The simple I could do, but the complicated? They threw me for a loop.
Because of my father’s profession, it was surprising that they said, “there is something different about that boy, but we don’t know what it is.” I did things slow as molasses. My best friend would tease my about how long it took me to put on shoes. My parents would get everyone in the car and they would sit and wait for me to appear. As a Psychiatrist, my father knew about hyperactivity, but I wasn’t. Later the shrinks divided the problem into ADHD and ADD. I had ADD, the version without hyperactivity.
There were many complications that I had to deal with. I could look in my closet ten times for a shirt and not find it. Eventually, defeated, I would ask my mother, and she would find it in one glance. All those pieces of clothing would overwhelm my ability to discern. I had a similar problem with scenes such as classrooms. Everyone else in the classroom would listen to the teacher and notice what each other wore, who was talking to who, which persons were having a rough day, etc. They could process multiple streams of data simultaneously. I had to be laser focused, otherwise it was complication time.
I was declared smart, because the tests were simple short questions that I could deal with. When it came to long complicated things, such as essays, I was a complete dunderhead. I would not remember that I already covered something, and repeat myself. The spelling was accurate, the sentences were grammatically correct, but the meaning of the whole essay was totally muddled. This was true of many subjects. Any teacher who tended to give assignments that were completed with short answers was my friend, but ones who liked long essays were my bane.
At first, I excelled in math because there were never long essays. Even the dreaded word problems were a cinch to me. Slowly, I realized that I had another strength. I could see things. I learned that if someone gave me a set of word directions (turn left at the third light, then right at the doughnut shop, etc.) I was in trouble. If, instead, they showed me a map and said, “we are here, and we need to go there.” I could study the map, and get there. I carry maps in my brain. I slowly learned that I could picture chemical reactions, and then even math flow charts. Needless to say, in college, I avoided subjects requiring writing and focused on math and science.
Slowly, I learned other coping mechanisms, and also began to be able to do the things that frustrated me earlier. These days, I can do some writing, and my ability to find things has improved. Well, I can still lose a book in the livingroom, but it isn’t so bad. I cope by trying to put things in exact spots. There is one and only one spot that my credit card lives. If there wasn’t, it would be panic city every time I looked for it. I tend to be messy, but when I put things away, it has to be a clear system.
One time, I was reading an article comparing Autism and Asperger’s which was trying to show that Asperger’s was Autism lite. I looked at the symptoms and thought, my ADD is Asperger’s lite. I had all the same symptoms but in milder forms. Once, I heard an expert say, “People with ADD should never become accountants.” This is so true. When there are too many details to juggle, it is an exercise in frustration. I once was manipulated by well meaning people into studying law. I managed to pass, but each year I got sicker. By the third year, my esophagus and stomach were ulcerating, and I saw that if I didn’t get completely away, I would soon be dead.
I had to see that I was made with certain gifts. I could do things that no one else could do. The problem was that others think the world should function the way they themselves function. Whether teachers, bosses, or parents, they can try to force people like me to do things their way. No wonder, people with Autism, Aeperger’s and ADD get so frustrated, and frequently feel like failures. Remember, some medical doctors see solutions in terms of medicine, psychologists focus only on counseling, and Pastors sometimes maintain that spiritual answers are the only way. We have three enemies, the world, the flesh and the Devil. Thus, I used and needed all three methods to gain healing. They worked together. I still can get frustrated when there are too many things for me to process, too many complications. Now, though, I see my gifts, and feel like a victor when I work as I am gifted.