I don’t remember when I was diagnosed with autism, but what I do remember is going through my childhood being so shy I would hardly speak and when I would speak, there were times when my words were, I guess I could say, lost in translation. When talking, my brain seems to think of the words I want to say, but my mouth doesn’t work the way I want to causing me to stumble over my words or not explain something as fully in detail as I would like to.
I remember this one time when I young was in Pennsylvania with my family, visiting my grandparents and aunt. My aunt lives close to my grandparents’ house, so my brother and I usually stayed the night at her apartment during our stay in PA. Anyway, I remember that she was telling my brother and me what she had for us for breakfast in the morning. She had bought these mini boxes of Kellogg’s cereal and she was telling us what kind she had: Frosted Flakes, Cheerios, Lucky Charms, etc. Now before I go any further, I must provide some background information. At the time, whenever I would eat Lucky Charms, or any cereal with marshmallows, my stomach would feel queasy afterwards. So, when she offered Lucky Charms, I meant to say, “When I eat marshmallows, they make me feel sick,” or something to that extent, but what I said was, “I’m sick of marshmallows.” Obviously, I was told off for being rude.
Now while the above story isn’t an accurate example of my trouble with speaking today, I still have trouble getting words to come out the way I want them too. Usually, I’m stuck talking…um…like this…especially when…um…um…it’s personal or when I’m trying to explain something, or usually there will be long pauses as I am trying to get my thoughts back on track.
My point is, I doubt I would have been able to tell anyone the above story effectively by speaking, but I did it through writing. As far back as I can remember, I have been writing. When I was a kid I would try to write stories--none of which were any good looking back, but that didn’t seem to stop me--and in High School, writing essays was definitely my strong point. I remember the last day of an English class that I took in Community College; I had an essay to turn in instead of an in-class final, and when I turned it in, the professor mentioned that I didn’t talk much, but I said a lot in my writing. The same is true regarding my time at Towson, a lot of my classes are discussion based which means I don’t fare well at all. Usually, I remain silent unless forced to speak, but when I get a writing assignment, I can finally say on paper what I could never do in class.
I guess that is how a lot of works of literature get started. The writer wants to say something, but lacks a “normal” voice, and yet he or she finds a voice by writing the novel or short story. While I am still currently unsure what type creative writing I will decide to focus on, prose or poetry or both, I am still able to say a lot more than I could ever do with my “normal” voice.
I am grateful that God gave me the ability to write so I can communicate despite my autism, and while it would be nice to be able to able to speak, I think I would prefer the ability to write because normally words from the mouth don’t last very long, but words on a page, they tend to last longer and are able to be revisited without the use of recording devices. Plus, in a way, it’s more fun
Grub Street Nonfiction Team Member
The image above is "Flight" by Gillian Collins.