The alien child

Got to talking about what a strange child I was in therapy today, and it got me thinking.

Maybe I do land on the autism spectrum somewhere. Even as a preschooler, I was not like other children. It’s like I was born with an excess of sensibleness and intellect.

Or was I? Maybe I became that way after I was raped by a stranger at the tender age(s) of three or four. It happened when I was so young that it’s very hard for me to remember what life was life before it.

What I do know is that long before school damaged me. I was already an offputting little alien boy in many ways.

Tonight on the Nebula Network – they knew raising Zkzorn, child of an alien embassador, would be hard. But they had no idea HOW hard. 

Let us review.

I never formed an attachment to a stuffed animal, comfy blanket, or any other transitional object. I can’t remember ever treating a stuffed animal like a real animal.

There was an incident where I was given a stuffed toy version of Nipper, the RCA dog, in front of a group of expectant adults when I was four or five years old.

And I did my best to have the right response. I thanked them politely for the toy. But I could tell that this was not they wanted without quite understand what they DID want.

Presumably, something very Hallmark where I instantly fall in love with my new toy and give it a big hug and all the adults get a big warm fuzzy moment from it.

And I am all for those moments. But I was not necessarily suited to be in them.

It stands out in my mind so clearly because it’s one of my earliest memories of disappointing people by acting like myself.

Which leads me to my next point : I never had the urge to conform as a kid. I was always ferociously and doggedly myself without the hint of compromise.

Like I have said in this space before, it literally never occurred to me to change myself in order to fit in. And that’s a problem because it means I did not feel social pressure, or really social anything. I was not picking up whatever signals normal children pick up that make them want to fit in and integrate with their peers.

Hence my thoughts on autism. A vital social circuit was broken in me, just like with the Barnacled Hermit android, and I was not even aware of what I was not aware of.

What is water, asked the fish.

If someone had suggested that I change to fit in, I would have dismissed it out of hand. And if they had persisted, I would have told them to go fuck themselves.

And that makes me the hero of our individualist narrative, right? The hero is always the pne who insists on being their own individual self Screw comformity! Be yourself!

But let me remind you that I was miserable.

The social isolation was brutal on me. I desperately wanted to connect to my fellow student and have friends I could do fun stuff with and hang out with and all the other things I saw friends doing on TV.

And yet, it never occurred to me to change to get it. I wouldn’t have if it had. It’s a tragic Catch-22. I was depserate for something I was incapable of getting.

It’s truly heartbreaking if you think about it.

Third example : I never had an imaginary friend. That also would never have occurred to me. I was absurdly literal minded and logical and analytical even as a preschooler.

Similarly, I never invented scenarios and play-acted through them with my toys. I had virtually no interest in toys to begin with, and I certainly never improvised stories with them, like I have seen normal children do.

And I have to ask myself : why the hell not? What the hell was wrong with me? I ask this not to judge but because my heart cries out for that little alien boy and I feel like if I understand the problem, I maybe can reach back in time and help.

Or at least help the grown-up version of that little alien boy.

To me, the pattern is clear : my social circuitry was completely broken. That’s why I never had an imaginary friend or play-acted scenarios with my toys. Those activities come from our social instincts waking up and exploring various scenarios and creating what the mind needs in order to meet its needs before the child knows how to do it themselves. They are vitally important in a child’s growth and my lack of it would be a huge red flag for today’s child care specialists.

They woiuld quite rightly see it as a sign there was something very wrong with the little alien boy and out would come the autism spectrum tests and I would have gotten a diagnosis and some form of intervention early on.

I had a form of that. I was subjected to a large battery of tests when I was in elementarty school. I didn’t mind at all. I loved all the attention and I found answering all the questions to be fun.

I still find that kind of thing fun, come to think of it. Honestly, I am just happy anyomne is interested enough in me to ask.

That’s…. sad, isn’t it.

So to sum up, I was a very strange and clearly quite damaged child. The system tried to figure me out. but I suspect that I was so different that all those tests did absoutely nothing to enlighten them about me because they all presupposed some kind of shared attributes of all children and I matched none of them.

So i went through school as this weird but always well-meaning kid who was painfully bright and way, way ahead of the other kiddies intellectually, but a special ed reject when it came to my social education.

Well I have always been too damned unique for my own good.

Guess I will just have to make the best of it.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.