Felicity’s mother

My Mother has always been unemployed but since my Dad’s health is bad she now works full-time as a checkout operator. She had almost no personal hygiene skills and did not teach any to my brother and I, she had difficulty with basic cause and effect situations, she was fluent and self-taught in ASL and had a passion for almost nothing else but signing, she would leave me alone as a baby in my crib and go to neighbor’s houses to watch TV.  

Even in the face of severe abuse at the hand of my Father she would still not speak when he demanded she tell him why she did things that made no sense (hide the bills, spend all the money, never clean the house).  As a young adult I thought my Mom might have had a stroke or something.

My whole extended family is very disconnected. Just a week ago I went on a road trip to see everyone. It has been 20 years since I have seen or spoken with these people. When I told everyone about my 3 years old recent diagnosis of autism I was told for the first time that I have many autistic cousins and second cousins with it. Also, most of the kids in my family did not speak until a very late age and have poor social skills. People began to tell me stories about my Mother’s odd habits. I made the connection easily at that point and solved a 30 year mystery of severe neglect.

I can forgive my Mom. It is also funny that myself and some my cousins that do not have autism all have photographic memory and went into fields of human services. I became interested in autism in my early 20’s and am now a behavior specialist. The irony of having a daughter with autism after the fact was explained by discovering my Mother’s autism. It makes sense that I was led to this field. I was able to recognize years ago that I do what I do because my Mom never spoke that much even in the face of being abused for it. It is funny how things come full circle. Since I am so new on this journey I am hoping to find ways to get my Mother the help she needs without having to confront my Father with the fact that he severely abused a vulnerable person. He stopped over 15 years ago but is still selfish and controlling. He is the type of person that would kill himself if I confronted him. I think that if I find out he did know I don’t know what I would do. I think hearing other stories will help me define this new information.

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Johanna’s mother

[Note:   This post comes from a writer with a non-English speaking background, and should be read in that context]

My mother worked as a cleaner (in office buildings).

She never showed any emotions. She could come home from work and say that she was in a good mood, that she was glad today. And as a child I saw that she was lying, she wasn’t glad at all, and I could never understand why she constantly lied about that.

I have never seen her happy or unhappy, never seen her laugh or cry. But now, as an adult with insight in Asperger Syndrome, I understand that perhaps she was glad when she said she was…

She was very rigid in her movements, and when she touched me she just grabbed me, almost violently. And I as a child I was afraid of her, especially when she wanted to touch me, or hug me, because she just
couldn’t hug at all. And her facial expression when she approached me was completely weird, which just made me more frightened.

She couldn’t keep a dialog, either she was silent and I or someone else talked, or she went on with long monologues.

She was completely naive, and had no way of telling whether someone was lying, or teasing her, or honest. She interpreted everything that people said literally.

I think she was of normal intelligence, but as a child I saw my mother as the dumbest dumb mother that anyone could possibly have. I see the tragedy in it all today, and I so much wished that she could show and
receive emotions, I would have wanted that so very much!

She dressed weird; with coats of thick cloth in weird colours. And she held her body and walked in a weird rigid way. I was ashamed of her, and when I was out with my friends and she happened to walk by and say hello to me I pretended not to hear her or know her. When I came home and she asked me why I didn’t say hello, if I didn’t see her, I was again ashamed. I was ashamed that I was ashamed, and had tons of guilt.

She always asked me how I felt. As a child I became annoyed over these questions everyday, and just yelled at her “Can’t you see that!”. Today I realize that she probably couldn’t. That she was
unable to see how I felt, that she was completely cut off from the feelings and emotions that the rest of us shared.

[My mother’s AS has affected me] profoundly! In almost all aspects, except: My dad kept the hold of our economy in the family, so I guess that this aspects was perhaps the only one that worked well. My mother had no sense of handling the household economy.

She was a complete loner, and sometimes accused us of saying things behind her back (a little paranoiac, but she is not suffering from paranoia).

I hope that I can contribute a little with my understanding of Asperger Syndrome in my mother, and of a two other people, men, that I have come to know later on in life that also has Asperger Syndrome. These two men have helped me a lot to understand how Asperger Syndrome affected my mother, and the reason why my mother acted as she did.

I also hope to share some understanding of these issues and problem with others. I understand today that my only brother also has a mild form of Asperger Syndrome, which meant that it was only me and my
father who were “normal”.

I have felt so completely alone with these feelings and insights that there is nothing else in the world I would want than to be able to share this with someone else who can understand it!

Rona’s story: (excerpt)

My mother was from a middle class background and my father was working class. My mother’s savant skills in languages got her a university degree, even though she couldn’t put 2 and 2 together in real life, and was I now realise intellectually disabled in parts!, (problem solving, sequencing, prioritising, no inductive or deductive logic). Yet she was one of the few women of her generation who actually went to University.

My father was so impressed with her intellectual achievements, and guilty too about never being able to give her a better life. Well, he was simply too tired from labouring all day, then coming home to do all the cooking, cleaning, sewing, under a constant rain of recriminations and accusations., for she had a very short fuse He was a battered husband and couldn’t leave.

And she was beautiful. They were a handsome couple.

Before we went out anywhere, my parents would make me rehearse the elaborate lies we would tell to others about our domestic misery. Keeping up the front was all important. We were pretty much social pariahs anyway, because my father’s self-esteem was gutted and he couldnt keep up with successful men of his generation who had wives to nurture their careers. And people couldnt get away from my mother’s monologues fast enough.