Special abilities in my childhood

Anyone who knew me as a child, knew I was odd without doubt, far odder than I am now. A number of my abilities were admired, especially by adults. So why not celebrate them here? My mum recalling these traits, along with my own recollections, helped me to get my diagnosis.
In the year I started school, I understood very quickly how time worked. I got told off in class for getting up from my table frequently to look at the clock, long before most children could read it! We had a calendar hanging on the wall at home, a month to view in a long strip, coloured brown with orange flowers and a white space for each day. To this day, when I need to recall a date, I picture that calendar, with the months ordered with December on the left to January on the right for some reason, I think that’s because when each month was done, my parents tore off the page to the right. In my mind I “write” on that calendar and almost never forget a date.
Also, around this time I developed a system for “seeing” the days of the week. Each day was coloured on my mental week-chart: Monday was white (traditional associations with washing-day) Tuesday brown, Wednesday green, Thursday blue, (most interesting things happened on Wednesdays and Thursdays) Friday yellow (because the mood was lighter at school) Saturday grey (it could be the hardest day for me due to lack of routine) and Sunday orange (because our church was made of orange brick). I don’t know what a psychologist would have made of this, if I’d ever had an opportunity to explain to them, but I was never taken to see one – autism in the 70s was not spoken about except in the most extreme forms, and even then rarely in girls.
Like many children with Aspergers, I was a precocious reader and writer almost without being taught. From the moment I knew how to do both, there was almost no stopping me. I filled notebooks with stories and observations and commentaries on real-life situations. Words on a page made far more sense to me than when people spoke them. I was always brilliant at spelling: I could see a word and remember it forever. (Not such a useful skill now we have spellcheckers!) I only ever remember once getting a word wrong in a school spelling test. The word was “marmalade” and I spelt it “marmarlade”. Quite why this word was even in the test, I don’t know! I’ve never liked the stuff anyway.
I also learnt to read music instinctively. My first piano lesson was when I was 5, and a couple of weeks after that I was writing down melodies of hymn tunes that I’d heard in church, by ear. People thought this was amazingly clever, but to me it just seemed blatantly obvious. I’ve always been able to hear music and see it written down. Not really an essential life skill, but I’ve used it to great benefit.
So that’s a little insight into how my child-brain worked. I would never wish to brag, and I’m no Mozart or Einstein. These skills weren’t tested or developed until much later on – if they had been, maybe I could have been some sort of child prodigy, but I’m quite glad I wasn’t. (I’ve never yet heard of a child prodigy who went on to have a happy, normal, fulfilled life). But it’s good for those of us who are neuro-diverse, to sometimes celebrate our skills, it’s quite fascinating to me and hopefully will be for others too.


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