Childhood Memories


A non-autistic person asked me about my relations with my siblings. I responded:

My sisters (two of them, one 7 yrs older than I, the other 2 yrs older than I) probably saved my life -- and my mother's. They both had strong maternal streaks, well prepped by my parents during my gestation. By the time I was born, they were ready to be little mothers to me. They took turns playing with me (for years and years) in ways that sound very much like the "therapies" and "training" now recommended by autism experts.

We're still close, although they live hundreds of miles away. Both have been married and have children. Here's something I sent to another forum about a recent conversation with my oldest sister:

I don't usually talk to my siblings on the phone, simply because I hate being on the phone. Since I've been sick (pneumonia), though, my two sisters have been calling to check up on my progress.

Yesteray, my oldest sister (A) called and the conversation took an unexpected term. I've never had any success in getting my sisters to remember anything about me that might be an indication of what AS looked like in my childhood. They tend towards bromides, I guess. And since I lack strong powers of early-childhood recall, I usually feel as if my childhood is lost to me.

But then A suddenly was saying how much her 5-yr-old granddaughter reminds her of me when I was that age. First she said that her granddaughter walked into the room one day and asked if she believed in reincarnation. Not a question one expects from a 5-yr-old, apparently, but A said it reminded her very much of me at that age.

More exciting for me was what she went on to say -- again, saying that her grandaughter's behavior reminded her of me at 5. Her granddaughter started kindergarten, and for the first few days she refused to interact with anyone. When anyone approached her, even a teacher, she would "close up like a flower" (my sister's words). After several days, this "shyness" began to dissipate. That's when her mother (my sister's daughter) discovered that the child had taken to wearing her favorite bathing suit to school every day under her clothes. Fortunately she is the kind of mother whose reaction to something like that is, "Whatever works!" She washes out the suit every night so her daughter can wear it to school the next day.

That's exactly what my mother did for me when I started school, my sister tells me. As soon as she mentioned the clothes in question (a skirt and short jacket made of soft, soft cinnamon-colored corduroy), I could feel them immediately. A very happy memory for me (the clothes, not the school).



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