Subtitle: “Dorothy, God only knows! But all autistics are special human beings, each have their own stories, and each are capable of fulfilling whatever capacity they have to be equal partners and contributors to society.” – said the Wizard of Oz
[Trigger Warning: You might find this post too long and quite boring, however I do recommend reading the attached article. It’s interesting…]
When I read the story attached below, it reminded me of my first 4 ½ years in elementary school.
After first grade and the first two months of that episode of nearly being expelled again as in kindergarten, the teacher in second grade realized that I might be one of those special kids with a brain. 🙂
Consequently, for the next three years while attending my first elementary school, I was put in a special class of students that showed unusual aptitude. And this occurred in a very basic Catholic school where the concentration was on Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic also referred to as the three ‘R’s.
After the first trimester of fifth grade we moved and I had to change schools, another Catholic parochial school. I was an unknown entity at the new school albeit with my favorite teacher of all time, Mrs. Zinnert, one of the few non-nun’s teaching there.
As an unknown entity who came off rather “weird” due to my language disorder and behavior, the kids immediately focused on that and I quickly became the principal kid to “bully” incessantly.
Life was hell for the next three and half years and I did everything possible to avoid going to school, pretending to be sick was my favorite excuse and my mother gladly accommodated me with phone calls to the school that I wouldn’t be there today and provided me with a written note to take when I eventually had the courage to return.
There’s a significant storyline set of episodes that occurred during that three and a half years of hell, but as it relates to this article grade 7 and grade 8 are pertinent.
This was the late 60’s in Los Angeles and back then it was customary to dish out IQ tests and aptitude tests to students. I hated taking any kind of test due to the anxiety that it caused me, and consequently I would rush through any test that didn’t appear to be a fun game to play.
In the first trimester of seventh grade at the “school from hell” we were given two IQ tests along with a couple of other rather well known aptitude tests that complement those. The infamous IQ tests were the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the original brain teaser, the Standford-Binet IQ test, the granddaddy of them all! 🙂
Fortunately these tests were sort of surprises and I didn’t have to remotely worry about studying for them; for the record I rarely studied for any test due to my distaste of them.
Around a month after taking the first one, the Weschler IQ test, we were individually called into the classroom of our home room, and privately shared our test results formerly. At the time my home room teacher was Sister Cristina Marie and she hated me, or at least I thought that she did. I did terrible in most subjects except for math and English, and I assume that she thought I was either just lazy or a problem child. The latter gives me a chuckle because she had no idea that I was autistic. 🙂
There I sat behind that big wooden desk of hers glancing up at her wearing that typical nun’s habit and her frameless glasses showcasing her piercing eyes with a tad bit of fear in my throat. Since I’m autistic, she didn’t like the fact that I would rarely look her in the eyes and she was constantly scolding me about that. 🙂
As I was glancing at her, she was peering down at my test results with the usual scowl on her face so I had no idea what to expect! I assumed that I probably [insert here] again and she was about to ridicule me for my lousy test results.
That didn’t happen but something worse did!
Apparently I scored in the top 99% of all US kids, and my test results we’re “off the charts”! I put that last bit in quotes because those were her exact words and the reason she said that was because I scored higher than their test algorithm could calculate! 🙂
For the next few minutes Sister Cristina Marie was screaming at me about those results, and now as an adult I suspect that she was just so aggravated with me that I had this potential but was such a lousy student! 🙂
Back to the worst part! Unfortunately one of my classmates was standing by the slightly open door, heard everything, and knew what those tests were about; I didn’t!
Consequently, when I was eventually permitted to leave the chaos of her ranting and return to recess in the schoolyard, my test results were common knowledge to all the kids.
That’s when one of the worst days in my life occurred.
As I entered the schoolyard, almost of all of my classmates were grouped together and immediately started yelling “David’s a freak, David’s a freak, etc., etc., etc.” It must have lasted for at least five minutes but it feels like a lifetime.
For the record, over the remaining two years when we were given those tests, my results were always around the same, “off the charts!” And maybe the worst part is that those teachers never shared that information with my mother nor explained to me the significance of those tests.
If I had understood that I might have had some potential God given brain power as a child and an adolescent, I might have made some different choices going forward.
However, I have no regrets because I am extremely grateful to God, to nature, and to fate to end up exactly where I am at the age of 64. And fortunately, I did make the most of that brain power while not realizing what that was until later in life.
This is a snapshot into the life of an autistic savant who happens to be one of the rarer ones with a way above intelligence (IQ score) verses what most people assume, an autistic savant is somebody with unusual capabilities but a way below intelligence level and needs constant care or supervision.
Guess what? There are a lot more of us than what are known or written about in the world, and there is a database kept by the ultimate guru on this subject that maintains those records.
I hope you enjoy the attached article.