Milo doesn't remember but he was three the first time his father asked if something might be wrong with him while he sat between his parents on the couch. Shouldn’t he be talking more? The apparent vow of silence around strangers was one thing, but the lack of interest in speaking to his own family was a different story. Hushed exchanges with his siblings flew under his father's radar and his mother had no success in easing concerns. They made an appointment he doesn't remember either.
Milo does remember the first argument he overheard that actually made a little sense to him. It wasn’t about money or secretaries or who drank too much last night. He was seven and trying to sneak a snack from the kitchen while they argued if he needed medication, a therapist of some kind or maybe just a second opinion on his development. It didn’t all make sense but it became clear to him that something was wrong. Not with them. With him. And it was the first time he felt his hands shake.
Development continued to progress poorly for years. At least that’s how they’ve always phrased it. Milo refused to participate in class. He wouldn’t speak to his teacher or his classmates. He kept to himself except for rushing straight to his best friend during recess. The list of what scared him, what he couldn't handle, what he wouldn’t do under any circumstances, got longer everyday.
“He’s just shy,” his mom insisted at a conference with the school counselor but nobody bought that version of the story. There had to be something else. Something more.
Milo heard his dad say Asperger’s for the first time when he was ten. He bit his lip and looked at his mom, lifting his eyebrow like he always did when there were other people in the room, when he couldn’t just ask what he wanted but she always understood what he meant. She said "something like autism" but he had never heard that word before either.
Not that he remembered... but something twisted inside him when his parents nodded along to a list of questions.
He cooperated so poorly with testing the specialists were forced to deem the results inconclusive. There’s a discussion about the possibility he exists somewhere on the spectrum or that it might be something else entirely. ADHD. Social anxiety. Depression. Hard to tell with a kid like him.
Milo told his best friend he spent the day trying to find a dog. It was the first time he lied to someone he loved.
“Dude, remember that time I almost passed out in sixth grade? At the spring fling or whatever the heck? And I freaking bruised your wrist because I wouldn’t let go? They’re still using that against me.” He was fourteen when he started flushing the newly prescribed pills meant to treat his anxiety - the diagnosis the family doctor settled on when he sat silent through numerous scheduled therapy sessions after the divorce. “I’m not taking something that makes me feel worse. I'd rather feel messed up sometimes than blah all the time.”
It kept happening and Milo couldn’t control it. Pounding heartbeat. Nausea. Shortness of breath. Trembling. Chest pains. Is he crazy? Does everyone think he's crazy? The overwhelming fear he's going to die. The words panic disorder were scribbled on the latest page of his medical file.
His parents argued who stressed him out the most growing up. No, wait… was it all genetics? Or did they fuck up by asking too many questions? Was this someone’s fault? Or was it just him? It’s not like any of their four other kids came out this way. What the hell happened with this last one?
Why did she even talk to his dad anymore? He hated it. He hated he wasn't normal. Milo hated being Milo. So much.
Twenty-two. That's when Milo finally allowed himself to accept the obvious from a specialized psychologist. It was all there.
Inability to understand emotional issues.
Exaggerated emotional response.
Abnormal response to sensory stimuli.
Exceptional vocabulary skills.
Below-average nonverbal skills.
Anxiety and/or depression.
Lack of eye contact.
Asperger's Syndrome was now technically classified under Autism Spectrum Disorder. He didn't like the word disorder. He didn't want his father to be right, even after all this time.
"I'll just say Asperger's if I tell anyone. If that's cool."
i told one of my best friends that i had told you about the asperger's thing and she asked how that went and it was nice to say that you didn't think it was bad
it’s not bad. your brain just works in a different way. or that’s what i’m understanding about it.
do you think it’s bad?
i didn't want any word for it for a long time because my dad always framed it like something was wrong with me and then my mom would say there wasn't and it was a whole thing.