Sunday, 24 July 2011

The manual?

I read a lot when I was a child: in my primary school there were different colours for different reading levels, perhaps 8 or 10 in all, the most advanced being mauve, brown and grey in that order. I started reading mauve books when I was 5, and soon worked my way up to grey. I read of boarding schools and witches, of bullies and time travel. At home I read too: I read the Dorling Kindersley hardbooks on the human body, and once read about a factual book about the creation of Santa Claus while somehow still believing that he existed. Mum loves to read autobiographies of people growing up in hardship, and when I got a bit older I'd read those too. Some books were about autism - given that my brother is autistic, this isn't surprising. Some books wrote about autism in a different way, though: people who could speak, who had no friends, who had trouble knowing what to say and how to stand. People who couldn't act 'naturally'. At that point I'd feel funny and have to stop reading - I didn't want to be like those people, I wanted to be a normal child.

For all the books I read, I never found one that would have made things a lot easier. See, the other children at school knew what to say, knew how to act, knew when to talk and when to be quiet. They didn't have to stare at others to find out how to act - they just knew. I figured that while being taught to talk and walk, they must have been taught social skills too, and for a while was upset at my parents for having not taught me as my peers had clearly been taught (this is how 7 year old me thought at the time). Later I thought that maybe they'd all learned social skills from books - so I tried to find a manual on how to be human. I searched on our bookshelves and in the library, but I had no luck. I was shown books on posture, but they never said how exactly I was to achieve such posture, and how I could tell which situation I was in. I was shown books on building confidence, but they didn't tell me what words I should use, or how exactly one could use inflection. What muscles do you use, and how do you consciously know which pitch to use?

Even nowadays when I've learned a lot more about how to be, I still wish that there was a manual, for those of us who were born without one in our minds.

No comments:

Post a Comment