I recently read a post on a Swedish aspie forum, where someone asked about childhood memories. Do you remember much of your childhood? Are you sure they are actually memories, or could they have been formed after people have told you about the events you think you remember? Can you find any typical AS behavior in those memories?
Apparently, autobiographies about Asperger's (I haven't read any, so I don't know) tend to contain detailed descriptions of the author's childhood, including very clear autistic behavior. I probably won't write a book like that – my books are fictional, often about perverted academics – but if I did, there would probably be many guesses and estimations. The book wouldn't be very interesting or give a clear image of my autistic traits if it was only about my adult life, but I don't remember my childhood in chronological order. There are things that I know I have been told by relatives, some of which I don't remember at all and others that add information to the fragments I already remembered. Some things occurred later than I thought they did, for example, I remember sitting in the middle of the living room while my mother and some of her friends were tearing down the wallpaper before painting everything white. At first I thought I was about two or three years old when this happened, but I have later found pictures of myself at about age four with the old walls (dark green, velvety 70's stuff in the living room and dark, fake wooden panel in the kitchen) in the background.
However, I do remember a whole lot from my early childhood (before the age of 7). Things that nobody could possibly have told me later, because nobody was around to see it or because the only person who saw it was my mother, who died when I was seven. Some of the events that I can replay in my mind, like short videos, are also such insignificant everyday things that nobody would remember or think of as something worth telling me afterwards if they saw it, for example gesturing at a friend at daycare. My memories are all fragments of events, yet detailed as if I saw the things and places in front of me. I remember the smell and texture of things, sounds, even my own thoughts the way I thought them – in my own voice the way it sounded when I was a child.
Some of the things I remember thinking are quite funny. For example, I remember thinking that a doctor was an idiot when he told me, in a silly “nice” voice, that the vaccine he was going to give me was raspberry syrup. When I finally let him give me the injection, I wondered why raspberry syrup would be better; wouldn't my veins get a sugary crust in them if it was syrup? What a jerk.
When an old lady smiled at me, I got angry. Not because I was shy, but because I believed it meant that she thought that I was having fun, which I wasn't. Before asking my grandmother about it, I was also puzzled by those public toilets that I thought were in every corner. My mother hated the word “piss”, but if that was so offensive, why did the signs say “pisseria”? And wasn't “pisseria” silly enough, even without spelling it with 'z' instead of 's'?
One thing that is recurrent in the memories which are about my thoughts is my odd relationship with my toys. I rarely ever played with my favorite things, which probably led my mother to believe that I loved the things I played with and was uninterested in the ones I never touched. In fact, it was the other way around: I was afraid my favorites would get worn out or break so I didn't play with them. Once I took my collection of small, square paper books and quickly folded them one by one, and didn't even understand that I was ruining them until my mother came into my room and saw what I was doing. All I wanted was the repetitive movement, the relaxing feeling of which I can still recall when thinking about that event. I loved to smell things, especially soft plastic and paper (smells that I still love to this day, just like my son). When I got older, my favorite thing to do with my things was to categorize them. I took three or four chairs from the kitchen, lined them up in my room and made small piles of stuff on them. The plastic animals – starting with my least favorite, the teddybear, and taking the ones I loved, the birds, last. I followed the same pattern of saving the best things for last with every pile of objects I made: the little soft, plastic containers of bathing foam, my clay sculptures, the masks... Apart from the things that I didn't like, and played with, that was all I did with my toys. Smelling, categorizing and touching them.
I remember phone numbers I haven't dialled for twenty years. I remember the smell of a friend's bathroom, the hole in the wall above the bathtub in our own apartment (and why I always touched it and said “Böj”), the smell and every detail of every room in the huge apartment where my grandmother lived, the sound that sometimes came from a pipe in the corner of my first room. I see objects and places from a small child's perspective: extremely high ceilings and chairs that almost reach up to my chest. This list of places I saw for the last time twenty years ago, but can still see, feel and smell in minute detail, could go on forever and I sometimes wonder if I actually have eidetic memory. That would also be a possible explanation of some of my earliest drawings, mainly of bicycles and sharks, which are extremely accurate in detail and proportion.
My memories of things that happened after I turned six are much clearer, and I could probably line them up in chronological order, more or less accurately. The book about my life, which will never be written, would be based on other people's stories rather than my memories, but I obviously remember my childhood. Asperger symptoms? Well, yes, I think there seem to be several, both in the nature and the content of my memories.