Some old friends of mine, who are some of the few people in the world who have been willing to socialize with my mother, recently gave me their take on her abnormalities and suggested that I see a psychiatrist about her. My mother’s behavior had never fit any psychological profile that I had encountered but I recently met with a psychiatrist and a genetic counsellor and they offered the Asperger diagnosis. Since reading about it I am convinced that their diagnosis is correct…. I am feeling very surprised that there seems to be a neurological profile for behavior that I thought was unique to my mother. I understand AS is much more common in males than in females but my mother’s parents were closely related – they shared the same grandfather, whose son was institutionalized for antisocial behavior. Therefore, I think that my mother inherited AS autism genes from both her parents.
Our family was not thriving on any level. Although my mother was not competent at the basics of maintaining a household, my father thought that it was women’s work and did not contribute himself. The upside is that because my mother (and father) could not cope with any of the responsibilities of having a house, we lived in a small rented apartment surrounded by elderly people and a few families who seemed to decide early on that they were going to intervene to see that I was okay. Therefore, I divided my time since the age of three between a long-term baby-sitter and many neighbors who invited me for meals, helped when I was injured, provided a safe place to play and tried to give me a leg up in some ways. My parents “home” had very little in it – no love, bizarre meals (usually just one ingredient, e.g. all eggs, all beans, all dairy, etc), few furniture (some black chairs and sofa that would not show the dirt), no TV or radios. My mother never learned to drive and my parents had no interest in celebrating my birthday and did not want to celebrate the big holidays. Another difficulty was that my mother favored my brother who is older and more resembles her. Both she and my father turned a blind eye to his bullying and abuse. It seems that my father married my mother and stayed with her because of her extreme frugality, which he shared and appreciated.
Some of my mother’s obsessions changed frequently and included medieval coinage, arctic wildflowers, watching track and field. Her collections have also changed and have included dozens of jars of fermented fruit, shoes, nail scissors, laundry detergent and bleach. Her current interest is in accumulating dried plums. For the last 30+ years she has worked as a volunteer for the [Political Organisation] as an advocate for “Juvenile Justice,” mainly advocating funding for programs for youth who have committed crimes. In her comments about this work, has revealed a sense of camaraderie with young homicides who are probably sociopaths. Her positions are never paid and she seems to experience a certain amount of conflict with the other volunteers. Socially, she is extremely pedantic and most new acquaintances excuse themselves after a few minutes.
I have felt very let down in the past because others had so little understanding of the harm this type of terrible parenting can inflict. I have never met any woman who reminds me of my mother and I have never met anyone who has described experiencing the type of bad parenting that I received from my mother. I have noticed that the number of resources devoted to helping parents with AS traits far outnumbers those for children with AS parents and yet children of AS parents have the most experience with how these traits play out over a lifetime and have probably suffered a great deal. I am curious to learn more about others’ experience and see if they seem similar to my own.