Unfortunately, this is not a comic strip blog any more. Apart from not having the capacity to draw right now, something even uglier than my laziest drawings is rearing its head in my life right now. I don’t know what to call it. There is a good possibility that I’m on the spectrum, but I’m not going to use the A-word just yet. That would be disrespectful to all you Mama (and Papa) Bears out there who who use WordPress as a place to unite and conquer the stigma. So, rather than Autism, I’ve chosen to identify as someone with Pervasive Neurological Condition Not yet Diagnosed.
Step one is obviously to get a diagnosis. That’s difficult in these far-flung parts, so I’m keeping track of what I might tell a doctor when I finally see one. I might as well begin at the beginning. Fortunately, I remember a great deal about my early days with PNCND.
Infancy – No, I don’t remember this far back, but I’m told I cried a lot. Supposedly, that was due to “colic”. This was the late ’80s, and most formula babies had colic. Might environmental stimuli also have been a factor? I don’t know.
Ages 1-2 A brief “genius phase” in which I acquired a lot of language abilities. I was spitting out the occasional complete sentence by about 1 year old. No red flags here, as that’s not unusual in my family, and generally not unusual for first born girls with stay at home moms.
Preschool age – Here’s where the warning signs show up. My reflection in the mirror had a name. I called it “you”. I could sit in the same spot and stare out the window for prolonged times, “waiting for the ducks to come back” or “looking at the [falling] snow”. Magnets fascinated me. I loved to feel the pressure the created right before they clicked together. I developed ten permanent hangnails from snagging little bits of skin and nail on the fraying edge of my blanket. I started grinding my teeth and rubbing my eyes. I didn’t rub them because they itched. I rubbed them because I found that if I applied enough pressure for long enough, I’d see a tie-dyed cave similar to the photo at the top of this page. Then everything would go white. I loved that trip so much that I started to feel insecure if I didn’t put pressure on my eyes several times a day. Night terrors frequently cropped up, with two waking hallucinations thrown in for good measure. I broke every crayon I touched because I always pressed down on them with full force. I begged to have my hair cut off, at least most of the way. There was no good way to transport me to the second floor of the mall. Elevators, escalators, and stairs all brought on screams of fright.
Yet for all that, I played and developed normally. I’d begun to form a twin bond to my only sibling, who taught me free association and voice acting (yes, as a toddler). I could follow a story in the funny pages, week by week. I had an impressive incidental memory. I began to understand that others have complex inner lives too (thank you Mr. Rogers and Berenstein Bears). Doctor’s office? No problem. Dentist office? No problem. Potty training? No problem. Showing affection? Sure, why not (unless your skin was cold – sorry mom). The list of foods I would eat was about a mile long and only excluded sour or mushy items. For all my parents could see, they were raising a perfectly normal kid with a few bad habits and an unexplained fear of heights. Nothing I wouldn’t grow out of eventually, right?
I’ll stop there for now, as my early educational experience would be difficult enough to explain without PNCND. I hope I haven’t bored you too much. Maybe there are others out there with PNCND who want to take this journey with me. I’d love to hear any stories.