Shh...Mum is Thinking

Friday, September 29, 2006

Something From the Cupboard

I’ve been a bit scarce lately. That’s partly due to the number of things I’ve been juggling. But ‘busy-ness’ isn’t the only reason. I’m having one of those overload periods I think, similar to when my son was going through his diagnosis. Back then I was staying up late every night reading books, papers, research, opinions…gorging myself on information till it felt like my head would burst and eventually none of it was making sense anymore.

Do you ever feel you’ve read so much stuff and have so many thoughts to sort through that your head is becoming the equivalent of the messiest cupboard in the house? Too much stuff in there, put in too quickly, shuffled through by searching fingers until nothing’s in the right place anymore. That’s how I feel lately.

One of the things I have bouncing around in my messy cupboard of a head has nothing to do with research papers, and perhaps isn’t even directly related to autism. It’s a story my husband repeated to me, something he heard last week from a workmate, and to me it seems very relevant.

Here it is:

Workmate, lets call him Fred, goes to a large science think-tank type place for a visit, for a reason not of any interest to this story. While there, he remembers there is a man working there who he very much admires. A scientist. A Great Man. Lets call him Barney :-)

Fred says to his escort…”Oh, please, would it be ok if I meet Barney? I’ve always wanted to meet him, it would be such an honour.”

The escort says “Sure…he works over there” and points at an office.

Fred walks over. Looks in the door. The office is empty. He returns to his escort disappointed. “Darn, I must have missed him. He’s not there.” Escort stops in his tracks….”Oh, yeah, he’s there.” he says, and leads Fred back to the office of the great man. Escort walks into the empty room and knocks on top of the great man’s desk…and Barney sticks his head out from underneath. They all greet each other. Fred was pretty happy to meet Barney :-) Smiles all around.

Turns out Barney ALWAYS spent the first hour of his day under his desk. Sucking his thumb. He has to because it was the only way he could ready himself to deal with the world. He wasn’t particularly embarrassed about it and his workmates weren’t worried or upset by his *gasp!* ‘inappropriate behaviour’. That was just Barney. He was a great man, and great men can have their quirks. It was part of the package. If you want Barney, you take him quirks and all.

I don’t know if Barney is autistic, though I suppose it’s a distinct possibility. But, see, that’s not whats important about the story, at least to me. He could be bipolar or schizophrenic or even neurotypical. I dunno, I don’t care. The fact is he was able to contribute something to the world simply because his ‘quirks’ were tolerated and accepted by his fellow human beings.

This story has been bouncing off the walls of my head the last week, ever since my hubby shared it with me. I was so happy when I heard it, so happy to hear the evidence that it IS possible for people to accept the quirks of others. Even, perhaps, with affection!

But the more I thought about it the more frustrated I felt.

After all, why do you have to be a Great Man for your quirks to be tolerated? There are probably heaps of people out there that would be able to contribute to society and have a shot at supporting themselves or could simply live a happier, healthier life if only we were more willing to allow each other a few quirks. Personally I’d be a lot happier to see more quirky people around, they make me feel comfy. I’d be very happy to have a quirky cashier wait on me, or see a quirky doctor, or a quirky garbage man or have a quirky neighbor or...

It's the social butterflies that make my heart sink, because I know they're not going to think too highly of my own quirks.

I’m moving my blog over to Lori’s excellent Autiblogs. She has purty themes…thank you again, Lori, for your kindness! I’ll publish this one last post on both Autiblogs and Blogger, and from this day forth, you’ll find me only at:


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