My world is a trembling shudder, a vulnerable candle in the wind, a whispering shadow through weeping willows. My mind is a trap of thoughts invaded by multicultural souvenirs of my memory. My heart is full of love, yet I don’t know how to share it! I may seem cold and lost for I have a lack of empathy. Everyone thinks I am dark when I am just silent. Words seem speechless and relentless to what I have to say. I may seem lonely when I am just abstract. Loneliness is a gift for the ones who know how to treasure it. In the devouring silence of my spirit there’s a deafening calling of knowledge. The air is unconsumed, yet there’s no breath left, for in my eyes the world is different, the world is numbers and graphics. I learned all this now, after 36 years of imperfect life in an imperfect world.
As unbelievable as it may seem I have many memories from my childhood. The firsts are related to toys. I had many toys, yet I had a big collection of robots. I could spend all my time with them, no need for human intervention. My mother told me that as an infant I cried a lot and I used to bump my head against the wall. I spoke late when I was 2.5 years old and I was breastfed until the same average age.
In kindergarten I was a shy, skinny and lonely boy. I never really liked company, yet I didn’t stay in a corner. There I discovered my passion for numbers. I know everyone else saw just toys, yet I saw them as numbers in my mind’s eye. I knew how many red, yellow and blue balls were there, I knew how many cut out paperboard elephants and chickens were there. They said I was in another world, my own one, yet I was in their world, but saw it differently. If I was getting late watching TV and my sleep hour passed away I couldn’t sleep the entire night long. I didn’t walked until I was three and the pediatrician observed my low muscle tone. My motor skills were low and that made me feel inferior and uncomfortable. When I was four, I increased my ability to walk because my father trained me a lot. I loved toe walking! I hated to take baths and often the sunlight blinded me. I developed flapping and self-stimulating behaviors like flapping hands, repeatedly tapping my cheeks and eyes with all ten fingers. I repeated some sounds and excessively some questions like “Will it be gooooooddddd?” I never smiled and never made eye contact. The neighbors always saw me as a freak. It’s every parent’s dream to have a healthy, strong and sportive son! I was exactly the opposite. I was weak, anemic and lonely. My parents tried to encompass me with people and especially kids. After one year their struggle was worth it as my walking improved and I got used to people and stopped being so lonely, although I loved my loneliness. My introspective self has always scared people off. I started to make eye contact and smile more. I loved cartoons and collected comics. My parents bought a dog, two cats and three rabbits to keep me company until I got a sister or a brother. I always got a reward for every progress I made. I think that was my parent’s secret. I remember when all parents and kids from kindergarten went out for a picnic, a play in the park, a football match. While other kids just played, I recall numbering the trees and the shovels. I must have seemed distant and obscure, when I was just counting. We traveled a lot and in many different places. If we were in a house neighborhood, I draw all the houses remembering their color and the house numbers. If we were at a lake I draw the boats and the tents in order and color exactly how they were. At six, right before starting school I was diagnosed with autism, my IQ was 45. The doctors advised my parents to put me into a special center for autistic people, as I would feel much comfortable in there. They denied the advice and decided to help me themselves. They took me to a psychologist and send me into an intensive behavioral training program. I guess I was luckier than others. I was a grown little man by the age of 12. My IQ raise to 60.
In adolescence, I went to a normal high school in my native town. I still needed a lot of care and a fixed schedule for all my activities. I ate breakfast every morning at 7:30, I went to school at 7:50 and catch the bus, I ate lunch at 14:00 if I wasn’t doing some special activity at school, then I went to the behavioral program and then I would meet with friends until dinner that was at 20:00. My passion for numbers and drawing increased with age. My teachers noticed my special abilities and send me to do special activities in the math’s domain and extra drawing classes. I won a lot of prizes and I was proposed a scholarship at Princeton. The behavioral program helped me a lot in ameliorating my sensory issues and my self stimulating behavior. I was 16 when I discovered my passion for planets and astrology. I learned by heart every constellation and each planet’s satellites. I also knew the dates of launch for every artificial satellite that the humans created. I knew data like when every Ice Age occurred, I knew all about Earth’s prehistoric ages, I knew all eclipse and geomagnetic storms data, I knew about the Great dark spot on Neptune and the Great Red spot on Jupiter, the dwarf planets, quasars, pulsars, the Ort cloud and solar eruptions, each planet’s and their satellites temperature and atmosphere characteristics. I was also interested in aliens and reading was my passion. I had all my books sorted on domains and in alphabetical order. I was discovering many new worlds of knowledge and my IQ increased at 80. I heard of many cases of autistic people that suffered from marginalization, epileptic crisis and even death, yet I heard of autistic people with many achievements, like measure exact distances with the naked eye. I was still a shy young boy, yet I had a purpose in life, to go to college and try to discover new knowledge and make a living on my own.
During the college years I went through a lot of changes. Knowledge was understood at a new level, a higher one, a diverse one. I had to focus on my talents and skills, so I chose mathematics, drawing and astrology classes, although I didn’t avoid others, I kept focusing on them. My memory developed from resolving equations and third degree radicals by heart, into solving integrals by heart and I retained many polynomial, trigonometric, logarithmic and hyperbolic formulas as well as I used to solve quickly probabilities, game theory elements and financial mathematics and statistics elements.
I learned fast that my mind wasn’t working like everyone else’s. I saw things in the mirror. I didn’t count, extract radicals or solve integrals, I saw their picture in my head and I closed my eyes upon them and in my mind’s eye they formed a pattern within a solution. I associated image solutions to ciphers. As much as I developed my mind and my memory as much as the mirror effect increased. I met a lot of talented people and we had many interesting teachers as well as guest teachers that were phenomenal. A blind savant reproduced exactly Chopin’s “The maiden’s wish” after hearing it played once or an autistic friend that could read two pages of a book simultaneously and another autistic scientist that draw a map of New Jersey after flying upon the city in an helicopter once.
My first girlfriend was beautiful. She wasn’t autistic and she understood my true nature and my calling and admired me for my struggle. We talked, we traveled and went to a lots of parties and shared a passion for coins, stamps and birds that I knew by their Latin names. I managed to overcome all my weakness and started to look people in the eyes with the confidence of an almost grown man. After graduating we split up because of distance and different professional goals. The only bad thing is that I couldn’t drive a car. My IQ raise to 95.
After graduating college, I decided to go for a MA in general mathematics and a MS based on analysis research. After I graduated those I worked for the New Jersey’s Institute of Technology. It was awesome, an unbelievable experience and I have reached my goal to support myself and do what I adore. After five wonderful years spent there I went to the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at UCLA at 35 years old. I reached the highest level I could at this age and I also met here the love of my life. She’s a scientist and she’s not an autistic person. Although, I lost many of my autistic behavioral instincts, I am still a big collector of books, coins, stamps and newly old badges, especially ones from the world wars and the period in between. I still count everything around and need some time on my own, but I live a real life, a good life, surrounded by much love and care. My IQ is now 105. I must appreciate the fact that I was born in a pretty wealthy family that put everything to chance just to cover my special needs and for that I will be forever grateful to my parents. Yet, now I must think about having a family of my own and reach the highest level of maturity this life can offer. Knowledge and profession are a big part of my life and succeeding in them gave me great accomplishments. I help others by supporting the Autism Society of America and the National Autism Association. We all need to dream and we all dream differently. We need to follow those dreams in order to live and grow as individuals integrated in the society we live in. An autistic person senses and thinks differently, because the mind focuses on other major issues. But, the autistic individual can be led to a personal and professional fulfillment with the help of others. It doesn’t have to be a dead soul in a living body! It must be a whole process of development of the special abilities his/her mind possesses. It’s beautiful, it’s art!
Now, my world is a trembling shudder of desire, a vulnerable candle in the wind of devotion, a whispering shadow of amazing experiences through weeping willows. My mind is still a trap of thoughts invaded by multicultural souvenirs of my memory. My heart is full of love, and now I do know how to share it! I overcame my lack of empathy and understood epiphany. Everyone thinks I am dark, when I am just silent. Words seem speechless and relentless to what I still have to say. I may seem lonely when I am just abstract. Loneliness is a gift for the ones who know how to treasure it. I am one of them. In the devouring silence of my spirit there’s a deafening calling of knowledge and it will be there until the day that I die and I have managed to share my knowledge with others. The air is unconsumed, yet there’s no breath left, for in my eyes the world is still different, the world is numbers and graphics, yet the world is also art and nature. I learned all this now, after 36 years when I still live an imperfect life in an imperfect world.
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