Once I learned how to make speech, I lost interest in the outer world. It continued to be filled with chaos, noise, and frustration. This was very different from my inner world, where I found peace. These strangers did not seem to want to understand my needs or my self-imposed "rules." These rules involved doing things with a certain amount of sameness each time, including the order in which I did them. With my rigid, computer- like mind, often I became obsessed and could not easily change from one program to another.
At other times, I would be in a program with a repeating cycle, and perseverate. At such times, I would feel compelled to repeat an activity in a way identical to the previous time I had done it.
Sometimes, this would satisfy me; sometimes not. The risks of sharing my special place seemed too great. I was not ready to come out of my secure little "bubble."
In my isolation, I lacked emotional expression. Recently, I was glancing through some photographs taken of me as a child. In all except one, I had a bland, emotionless look on my face. I looked like a lost soul, one with no identity of its own. In one particular snapshot, I was sitting on a fake bull. My father had ordered me to smile. I thought this a strange request at the time, certainly not something that I could do with sincerity; however, I knew what would probably happen to my posterior if I didn't at least pretend, so I managed to feign a half-grin. How could I genuinely smile? Such expression of emotion was foreign to me.
Many of the autistic children that I meet have this same disoriented look. As I observe them, I wonder if these children are also in search of their identities. I wonder if anyone will be there for them, to guide them along their way.
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