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The day I discovered that I am on the spectrum

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I never hide the fact that I like browsing the web freely, learning how the world works by reading other people’s comments, looking at their pictures, but also reading articles, simultaneously listening to a Youtube lecture in double speed about another topic, and chatting with several people in far-flung parts of the globe. They just don’t reply fast enough for me; Youtube is one of my great teachers, I can speed it up and down to my own needs and ask it almost every question and get free of charge courses for most of my needs. There’s rarely need to pay someone for practical knowledge, since professors from around the globe usually answer even my special questions freely and generously.

As a schoolgirl I did not have this privilege of the international knowledge web, so I had books. I would reed mostly phone books and yellow pages, encyclopedias, and catalogs. I would collect stamps from all over the world, through the generosity of old immigrants corresponding with their lost family after the Holocaust. Getting to know the world was not enough for me. I needed to know more about myself. Back in the 1980s, during my childhood, when inflation affected all of us, no one in the urban areas would send their well-behaved girl to a psychologist. I know not one child that went to one. Instead, I went gathering old magazines with simplified personality quizzes, and filled them in. I learned what I already knew, but confirming what I felt deep in my heart was good enough for me.

I love personality quizzes. When they are good, they can help retrieve missing precious data from the pile of nonsense. Having this craving for knowledge and completing quizzes in the age of the internet, I do several a week. Now you can laugh about some of the quizzes, since they try to judge you by your favorite color, or preferred shape or music or historical period, but, sometimes even in that genre, some offer valuable insight into social perceptions.

It was one hard day’s night, or evening. I set down with my decaffeinated rice milk cup of fake coffee, to clear my head after a long afternoon taking care of my three little kids. I put my legs up , and my headphones on, opening some pages and music to relax and rewind in a world no one needed to rewind, since audio/video cassettes are not in use anymore. Some quiz ads popped up between the chats and browsing. I went on and on responding to them, one after the other, wondering what question will come next, and what topic will be the next to pop up on my screen. Then it showed itself: ‘check if you might be on the autistic spectrum’. Is that a joke? Or some new age sort of abracadabra? Is this the pseudo psychology? However, like a kid in a candy store, I completed the quiz right away, not even checking who assembled those questions.

It was the longest questionnaire I took of this type; usually you get to the conclusion after five to ten of them. Getting to the end after 40 long and so well translated questions, I found myself deep in the possibility of being autistic. It was just too simple to discover my aspian tendency like that. Therefore, I took it again, and again. I was deeply autistic, and again now trying to be less judgmental about myself, with better scores, but still deep in the pool.

So I tried to find out more about the questionnaire, and maybe take it again in English, since the translation to Hebrew was quite lame. It is called the AQ, and it is a well-known screening spectrum questionnaire that has been in use for quite a while, and is translated into many languages. I found it in English and French, and took it again first thing in the morning and again at night, I took it after a hard day at work and on the weekend again. I took it after getting a reward for my well-done job, with and without coffee and still I was hardly reaching land.

I was still sailing through stormy waters. Closing my laptop to run to a teachers’ meeting that will take all afternoon through the night; all I could think of is this autism. Am I? What should I do with this information? What do I know about the autistic spectrum disorder? How come years studying psychology and pedagogy with the top professors, lecturers and tutors in the field, and yet no one said anything or even hinted or dropped me a clue? Is that feeling of people talking behind my back, was that it? Whom should I tell? Whom should I ask? Will sharing put me in danger? Will my career as a teacher ends? Will my friends and family keep loving me with this new information? Who can verify the diagnosis? So many questions, much more than 40.

Editor and langue consultant: dr. keren tova rubinstein

About גלי כרמלי שרים

גלי כרמלי-שרים עוסקת בכתיבה מאז שלמדה אותיות, בעריכה והקמת אתרים, מורה ליוגה מנחת מדיטציה ומלווה תהליכים אישיים ב-NLP. בעבר עיתונאית ועורכת באתרי אינטרנט. בוגרת לימודי קולנוע. מייסדת אתר שוקולד כחול. נשואה לדורון, איש מחשבים וטייס, ואמא גאה של לוטוס-רן, יהונתן ושרון-לוקאס. כולנו היפראקטיביים (בכייף שלנו), חלקנו גם אוטיסטים

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