I guess like embarking on any puzzle, it must always starts with the first piece. So to begin, I have Asperger's Syndrome, in other words I'm Autistic, and so this literature will be about my struggles with this disorder as an adult. I was first diagnosed back in the summer of 2004. If it wasn't for my twin daughters, I might not have ever known all the questions I have ever had in life; to them, I will always be in their debt. Growing up, you are never really aware of any differences until the judgment years...6th thru 12th grade of school. A time when one always tests their own humanity against others; meaning, how will I measure up against other students. In my eyes I seemed to be just like them; two arms and legs, ten fingers and toes, head and body...nothing unusual. Yet, for some reason, I was treated a little different than everyone else. That's one of those things that you can't quite put your finger on, but I observed on many occasions how kids would talk and address each other versus how they would communicate with me. I guess the biggest indicator for me were the girls. Throughout my whole school experience, I had one girlfriend that attended the same school as me. Any other girl I had ever dated was outside of my school. I had very few "enemies", but one could say I had a lot of girls who wanted to be my "friend". I never could understand everyone's little inside jokes, but I did fully understand when a girl tells me they want to be friends. (I felt like Charlie Brown!) Aarrrah! When I did have a really girlfriend, it never really lasted very long; maybe a month or two. It was incredibly frustrating because I wanted the experience of being in a relationship, basically like all the other guys had in school. I did attend a smaller school and activities were very limited because when I was younger I loved soccer, but my school didn't have it so I went without. The only real activities I did were drama and art club. (I did run track later in school). At least in these activities, it was solely based on me as an individual, granted I did have to work with others in drama, but learning the lines, blocking and character development were completely on my own. No matter how much I tried to fit in, it just never seemed to be enough. I ran for student council every year...lost. I was nominated for AFS king...lost. Never a homecoming king, court warming king, prom king, and with no girlfriend, I never attended my Junior or Senior prom. My grades in school were average or a little above average and in some years I did make the honor roll, so I was able to manage never knowing the disability I had inside of me.
When I graduated in 1988, I went to my local community college. (It helps when your dad teaches at the college!) I still would have the occasional girlfriend here or there, but nothing ever solid and I really thought that with a fresh start and being out of the country school that this might be my chance. The first semester was really disappointing...no one. (At least, one that I felt like I would be able to have a REAL relationship with anyway.) The spring semester started in mid-January of 1989, I had Ceramics class and a Creative Writing class so I was rather excited for this school year, but little did I know my life, like Will Smith, was going to be flipped upside down!!! I was knee deep in the art stuff in college, so I was primed and ready for the Ceramics class. I rarely remember any of my first days of any classes in college, except for this one. Brad, Mike and I became friends over the semester and we all really loved art, so naturally we sat together at a table. I was leaning back in my chair surveying the room of people; I couldn't help but notice three young women sitting at another table. One gal didn't seem like my type, a red head who looked like an older lady and the blond who looked rather cute at the time. When we were on break, I thought I might say a word to the blond until she went outside and did the unthinkable...she lit up a cigarette. Growing up, the one grandparent I really adored was my Grandma Dee. Unfortunately, she had a bad habit and that was smoking. I tried everything I could think of to get her to quit, but I was unsuccessful. At the age of 16, my grandma died while having surgery. So it was really rough on me and again with my Asperger’s, I didn't cry at her funeral. (Of course, leading to me asking more questions of what was wrong with me.) Because of all of that...the blond was out! When I went to my last class of the day, Creative Writing, I noticed that the older red head from Ceramics was in the same class too. To be honest, I really didn't think much about that other than the fact that we had two classes together. So I went home a little bummed out. Little did I know I had seriously mistaken the red head. About a week later, the red head came up to me and asked me if I could tell the Creative Writing teacher that she wasn't going to be in class because she had to get her sister from school. I'm not sure when my brain actually started to finally get a clue, it might have been what Jaimee was wearing, or at close up she looked a lot different than she did further away. [FOOTNOTE: At first, Jaimee thought I was gay.] But, the most important thing was that the red head was really pretty. Jaimee didn't look nearly as old as she did the first day of school and interesting enough, the first time she talked to me about the message for the teacher...it was a lie! (That should have been my warning!) I had to get to know this beautiful red head; so I learned that a girl friend of hers had been driving her home from school...bingo! Now mind you that I never had a lot of luck with girls, especially the real cute ones, but I was still willing to take the bullet anyway. One day I approached Jaimee and offered her a ride home sometime, figuring she will probably want to get to know me a little more before she ever stepped foot in my car, and her answer..."sure how about today"!!! (WHAT?!!!) Mr. No-Luck-With-The-Girls was NOT expecting that answer! I even admitted to Jaimee that I was surprised by her response, but she didn't care, it was as if she already saw something in me that I never saw in myself. Needless to say, within the same year, I first kissed her on Feb. 13th (I couldn't wait for Valentine's Day); on April 13th (her birthday) I gave her a very special gift wrapped around her finger. And, on November 25, 1989, we were married. Through all my quirks and craziness, Jaimee still loved me anyway, but never knowing what I really had lurking on the inside. Strangely enough, Jaimee's mother always thought how in the world I was able to put up with HER daughter. (It wasn't hard, she is gorgeous.) So for roughly 15 years, we had no clue to why I was the way I am. But, I got through college, (had four beautiful girls in the process) got my Bachelor’s degree and was on my way to teaching. (Like my parents, my wife's mom, and most of the grandparents.) Phew!