Me: Honey, I want to know what you think of this.
Me: I’ve been reading the testing part of I Think I Might Be Autistic, and – gosh, I’m not totally sure yet, but I think – I think some of this might apply to me.
Kiddo (trying to keep a straight face): Oh?
Me: “Do you sometimes feel the need to repeatedly ask the same questions even after your question has been answered?”
Kiddo: Didn’t we talk about this already?
Me: Very funny. Okay, how about this one – “Do you get upset when someone or something disrupts one of your routines?”
Kiddo (snickering): oh no you never do that not you
Me: Shush. Just one more. “Do other people tell you that you sometimes overreact to small changes in plans or your environment?”
Kiddo: (laughing too hard to talk)
Me: “Even if you don’t consider the changes small,” because excuse me but they’re not small they’re actually quite large so everyone please stop messing with my stuff.
Spouse: …were you editorializing on that last one?
It reminds me of something that periodically makes the rounds on social media: “Write the name of the last book you read, but add ‘With A Chainsaw’ to the end of the title.” Everyone has a merry old time. The biggest laughs are prompted by those who love the classics, because Little Women WITH A CHAINSAW just feels so right.
That kind of manic perfection is how it feels when an autistic person takes an autism test and holy crap everything in my whole life makes a bonkers kind of sense now.
I showed one of these tests to my spouse. I’ve shared fragments of them with friends who aren’t autistic.
In both cases, even when the questions elicited a “yes” response, it just wasn’t the same.
Q. Do you find it difficult to engage in “small talk”?
Non-autistic: Oh, yes! I got stuck talking to someone I didn’t know at a party, and we ended up talking about the weather for ten minutes! I mean, I guess I’ve always wanted to be a stereotype!
Autistic: I was in a waiting room and someone asked me what I was reading and I showed them and then I explained why this was the most meticulously researched biography of the Brontës that’s ever been written and how it turns out that Branwell Brontë didn’t actually spend his art-school tuition money on booze and then come home broke and disgraced the way all the other biographers say he did, and the person I was talking to sat there listening for a minute and then just got up and left and I didn’t even get the chance to tell them about the part where –
Q. Do you see conversations as primarily a way to exchange information rather than emotionally connect with people?
Q. Do you often prefer solitary activities or spending time alone?
Non-autistic: Oh, sure!
Autistic: Why are you still here?
Q. Have you been told that your thinking is “black and white” or “all or nothing”?
Autistic: Only by bad people.
Q. Do you –
Autistic: Who are wrong.
Q. Do you have large collections of factual knowledge?
Non-autistic: I mean…
Autistic: I need to buy a new set of shelves for my books about Regency England in general and Jane Austen in particular. The old shelves are falling apart.
Q. Do you have highly unusual interests?
Non-autistic: Well, I don’t know anyone else who loves Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!
Autistic: I just spent $75 on a university-press book about fairy beliefs in Shakespeare’s time.
Q. Do you – wait, really?
Autistic: WITH A CHAINSAW
I know plenty of people who would say yes to plenty of the questions on the questionnaires. Awkward at parties? All the time. Don’t always get certain types of humor? Of course. Cold when other people are hot, or vice versa? Story of my life, honey!
But it’s one thing to look at a body of questions and say, sure, I can relate to that. Some of it, anyway. It’s another to answer yes to question after question after question and HACHI MACHI THIS IS ALL ME I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE AT LAST.
And my people all have their very own chainsaws.
And it feels just right.