Hello Stranger

Hello stranger. I’m not supposed to talk to strangers. Stranger-danger and all that. Mom says that strangers are really smart and will say they lost their puppy and stuff to get you to talk to them and go with them. I don’t talk to strangers. Mom says it’s ok to write to strangers though. Since you don’t know me or us or where we live, I can talk to you.

My name is Spencer. I’m almost nine-years old. I’m actually 8 years and 10 months old which is almost close enough to 9 to just say “9”, but I can’t say “9” if I’m not 9. Mom says it’s probably ok to just say “9” if I want to, but that feels like lying so I can’t do it. So, I’m 8 years and 10 months old. I live with my mom only. Well, I live with my mom and Snowman, Fancy, Mushy and Bits. Snowman and Fancy are our dogs and Mushy and Bits are our cats. We used to have another dog, but she died. Her name was Donna. I’ve lived with my mom and our pets now since I was 6. Well, we didn’t have all the pets right away when I was 6, we only had Mushy. One day when I was with my mom, we went to the mall. When we were there, we had to get some cat toys at the pet store. That’s when I went over by the dog cages and saw Snowman for the first time, so I begged my mom to get him. I thought he was so cute, mostly because he had this really big underbite and his bottom fangs stuck out over his top lip. He looked funny. When we were at the mall a year later, mom said no more pets because I don’t help enough to get another dog, but I got her to hold Fancy and I knew we’d get her. I promised mom I’d help more and feed them and pet them and stuff. I still don’t help with them much, though. I want to, and I know I should, but I don’t. I don’t know why. I love them all and want to keep them all, but I don’t help much. I feel sort of bad about that sometimes, but my mom loves them all enough and loves me too, so I know she’ll take care of them and me. Mom gets mad at me sometimes and I feel really bad about that too, but I can’t change for some reason.

I know my mom sometimes feels bad that her and my dad are divorced now, so she usually gives me stuff I ask for. Maybe I should feel bad about that, but I don’t really. I miss my dad. Mom says he was never really around and she had to do everything, but I don’t remember that. I remember doing stuff with my dad, but my mom was never there. I remember going out to eat and to movies and stuff with my mom and my dad was never there. Maybe they were always sort of divorced but just lived in the same house.I don’t know. I love my mom and I love my dad, but I understand why they don’t live together anymore.

School pretty much sucks for me. It seems like nobody likes me and nobody wants to be my friend. I got in a fight once on the playground and got into trouble, but the teacher didn’t see that the other kid pushed me first. She only saw me punching him in the armpit. That was the first time I ever punched anyone and I got into trouble, but he didn’t. Instead, he got to go back to class and I got sent home. When I got home, I didn’t want to tell my mom because I was afraid she’d be mad. The school told her I punched a kid and she asked me why, but I didn’t want to talk about it. Mom didn’t bug me anymore about it that day. The next day after that fight, I got picked on a lot at school because everyone thought I was the bully. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or tell, but it made me feel really bad. That day, after school, my mom knew something was wrong and she made me tell me what happened. She didn’t even get mad at me! At first I just told her I hit the other kid, but she knew there was more to it. She said she knew I’d never hit anyone before and asked why I did it. First I just told her I don’t know and I got really mad and started crying because of her not believing me, but then I told her that kid that pushed me down and called me a retard. She said it was ok to defend myself and asked if I told my teacher that he pushed me first and called me a name. I didn’t. I never wanted to tell on the other kids that picked on me because I was afraid no one would want to be my friend. Then, my mom told me I don’t want friends like that anyway. She’s right I guess, but I always wanted to be friends with the kids that picked on me the most. Maybe I thought if I could get them to like me, everyone would like me, but that hasn’t happened.

When I was in first grade, I figured out that if I made myself throw up with my finger, the school would think I was sick and call my mom to come and get me. I always told my mom I put my finger in my throat. I think I maybe wasn’t supposed to tell her, but I’m happy I did because she knew there was something wrong at school and she had meetings with my teachers. Mom told the teachers that I got picked on and sometimes, the teachers would be my friends. That helped me a lot at school.

When I was a baby, I threw up a lot and couldn’t walk or talk much. I don’t remember being a baby, but my mom tells me about it. She took me to lots of doctors because she knew something was wrong with me. One doctor gave me pills that my mom crushed into my baby cereal that helped me not throw up. I grew out of the puking all the time, so that was good. When I was about a year and a half and still didn’t talk or walk, my mom took me back to the doctors. There was a tummy doctor, a baby doctor, a leg doctor, and foot doctor. They all looked at me and knew something was off but they didn’t know what. The tummy doctor told my mom to take me to a brain doctor and he poked me in the arm with a needle and sucked out my blood. That’s when we found out I had hypothyroidism. My mom had to crush a pill into my milk or juice every day and now I can just take my pill like a grown up. I have to take a pill a day for the rest of my life and sometimes I forget and mom has to remind me. The good thing is mom also found out she had hypothyroidism later on so we both have to take a pill every day. If one of us runs out, we can use each other pills sometimes. So, mom said that was good news because it meant there was a reason for why I seemed different. After I got on the pills, I began walking and talking pretty quickly.

When I was about 3 years old, I used to drive around with my dad out in the county. He showed me all the different places that people lived and told me who lived there. I always remembered how to get to each one; which way to turn, and what direction to go. Dad called me a human GPS. I didn’t think it was any big deal. It’s just what I remembered and what I did. I can’t do that anymore. I don’t know how I could or why I lost it, but now, I’m not sure where anyone is or how to get anywhere. I don’t remember faces like I used to. I used to know everyone’s name that dad and me visited even when I was really little.

I don’t remember all this stuff, but my mom and dad tell me a lot of things I used to do. Some I remember, like I hate loud noises. We used to live by a railroad track and I would cover my ears when the train went by. Sometimes, it made me shake and cry. Mom says I’d even cover my ears in my sleep when a train came by. I still don’t like loud noises, but I do love trains. My dad drove a train for a long time and I got to ride with, but I don’t like the noises. Once, my mom and dad signed me up for basketball lessons when I was a little kid. I was only 7 then. When that buzzer went off, I sat down on the ground and plugged my ears. I didn’t have to do basketball after that. I don’t like quiet noises either. They kind of interrupt my brainwaves or something. I’m not sure why, but I can’t really think very good around noises–there’s always humming noises or scratching noises in school. They hurt my brains. I like music, though. I’ve always liked music and it never bothers me. I wish I could play music. I have a trumpet, a guitar, and a drum set, but I don’t know how to play any of them yet. My band teacher at school wants to kick me out of band because I like to take my trumpet apart during band class. But, that’s only when she’s talking, not when I’m supposed to be playing it, but then it’s all taken apart when it comes time to play it, so maybe I should quit band. I really want to learn to play guitar. Mom says I can get guitar lessons someday when I can show I’m serious about learning guitar. I’m not sure how to do that. I’m not really sure what serious means. I really want to learn, but it’s been pretty hard for me to learn stuff my whole life, so I don’t know if I can learn it or not.

I know I’m dumb sometimes. I call myself stupid because I don’t understand a lot of stuff that other kids seem to already know. Mom says I’m not stupid at all. I get all A’s and B’s at school, but there’s some things that all the other kids know that I just don’t and it’s really hard to feel so different or dumb or behind or whatever. I guess I know that I’m mostly not dumb. I can learn cool stuff pretty easily. Like, I learned long division pretty easily and I even helped other kids with it. That made me feel pretty smart, but sometimes I wonder if I’m so smart, how come I don’t have any friends? I’ve been invited to two birthday parties my whole life. I was really happy to go to a birthday party, but I always felt funny there. I always felt like nobody liked me and I wasn’t really sure how to talk to anyone. And sometimes they play games that I don’t like, so I go do something else. Some of the other kids think that’s weird, but I just don’t like what they’re playing.

In first grade, mom had the meeting with my teachers. They told my mom they thought I might have something wrong with me that made it hard for me to make friends and to listen and take tests and stuff. I remember my mom crying after that meeting, but she made me an appointment with a kid psychologist. It was pretty bad. They made me take all these tests and answer all these questions. They also made my mom and dad answer all these questions about me. I really don’t like being asked a bunch of questions. I like to be the one asking the questions. I even called myself “the million question guy”. My record was 62 questions asked in one minute in first grade. People got really mad at me just for asking questions. I was just talking and hoping to make friends and I wanted to know stuff about things, you know? But, I got in a lot of trouble for asking too many questions. I got in a lot of trouble in first grade. I didn’t hurt anybody or do anything really bad. I was just really annoying I guess. I’m still annoying now I know, but I know when I’m being annoying. I can’t really stop it and it really doesn’t bother me at all that people think I’m annoying. I’m just being myself.

So anyway, I was at the psychologist and they were making me answer questions and play with weird toys and they timed me a lot. I kind of like being timed sometimes because it’s fun, but I hated being timed for answering those questions and playing with those toys the way they said I had to play. I got really mad and wouldn’t do anything until they let my mom come in. When my mom came in, it was worse. I was hoping she would just see how mad I was and take me away, but she didn’t. She got up and left me alone in the room again. Finally, it was over and mom took me to McDonald’s. I love chicken nuggets. Mom told me that finding out if something wrong wasn’t bad. She said it would just help me. It would help the school and other people to understand. It would help her and dad know how to help me and it would help me to know there’s a reason I’m different.

It was a week or so after that appointment that my mom and I went back to see the kid psychologist and he told my mom that I definitely had ass burgers. I wasn’t allowed in the room when he told my mom but my mom told me in the car on the way home. She told me that it was a good thing and that it was good to know. She told me all those times that I felt funny or weird like I didn’t belong or felt like I was being picked on were because I had ass burgers. I asked her if I had to tell people I had ass burgers because it sounded really bad to me. She said I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to. She said that some people would be really mean to me if they knew I was different, but they were mean to me anyway. She also told me that the only thing worse than being kind of weird was being just like everybody else. I don’t know how or why, but I knew what my mom was saying. She also told me it wasn’t ass burgers, it was Aspberger’s. Either way, it sounded weird and funny to me.

I asked mom if that was why I was stupid and she said I wasn’t stupid and that people who had Aspergers could actually be really smart at things. She asked me if I knew who Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison was. I remember Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb and Einstein was good at math, but that’s it. I also know they were both pretty weird. I told my mom I wasn’t really smart like that in anything and she told me I maybe just haven’t found it yet. She said it didn’t mean there was anything wrong with me, but that I was just different and that different was a really good thing. She also said that more people had heard of Aspbergers than had heard of hypothyroidism, so she thought it would probably really help me with school and my teachers. She also asked me if I wanted to tell anyone about it or if I wanted to try to keep it a secret. I wanted to tell people about it. I wanted people to know I was different. I hoped maybe the bullies would understand that I couldn’t really help being different and I wanted to be proud of being different. My mom always told me she was different and she loved other people who were different and I thought being different was probably a really good thing, so I let her tell people.

When I went back to school and told people I had Asperger’s, some laughed at me. Some were nice, but for some reason I only remember the people that are mean to me. They laughed and called me ass burger. I told my mom about it and she said I could also tell kids I had autism. I didn’t want to have autism. I had other kids in my class that had autism and some of them didn’t talk or walk. Some of them yelled and screamed a lot. Some of them didn’t stay still and I told my mom I wasn’t like the kids with autism so I didn’t want to say I had autism. She told me that Asperger’s was a part of autism that is highly functioning and that there is a whole range of autism. Some people say autism is bad. It really isn’t. When my mom told me I had autism and not just Asperger’s, I thought about those other kids in my class that had autism. They didn’t talk, but I thought maybe they could and were just scared. I figured just like I was scared of bullies thinking I was different, they also were afraid of bullies, but they were even more scared so they didn’t even talk. I never told my mom that part. I thought she might be mad at me. Maybe they aren’t scared of bullies. I don’t really know. I just know how I feel. The only thing different about me is maybe I’m not quite as afraid. I don’t know why I’m afraid of other people or kids. I just know I am. I like grown-ups. Grown- ups are always nice to me (except for teachers sometimes) and I like younger kids. To younger kids, I’m pretty smart and cool because I’m older and different. They don’t see anything wrong with me. But, to kids my own age, I’m weird. I feel weird and I feel different and I wish I didn’t, but I do. We decided it was good to know. It was good because we could understand and work on it. Now, I get social skills classes and even have made a couple friends. I get all A’s and B’s in school and I don’t think I’m dumb anymore. Kids still laugh and call me ass burger sometimes. Mom says someday, we should open a restaurant and call it “Ass Burgers”. I like that idea.

Thanks for reading, stranger.

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