Late Bloomer – A Life in Slow Motion

I am the epitome of a late bloomer.  I’ve already written about some of my mental and social impairments in An Autistic’s Personal Perspective.  My unusually poor memory and such disabilities as dyslexia have hampered my normal development as a child making me a late talker and very slow and poor learner.  I was always at the bottom of my class throughout elementary and high school where I repeated two grades, and did poorly in college.  Learning has always been slow, tedious, and often seemingly torturous.

I still have difficulty understanding people and media such as film and TV.  I tend to watch action programs because I can enjoy the action even if I have difficulty understanding the dialog.  I cannot read captions for foreign films so avoid them.  When listening to someone talk or give a lecture I often miss or forget details and loose the essence of what the speaker is saying or more than not totally tune out.  I was largely overwhelmed with information during my years in school and learned little.  I developed an enormous inferiority complex.  It takes much effort today to focus and understand important conversations.

I have not read a book since college because of dyslexia and poor memory.  In college I generally did not understand what I read or lectures I attended.  I still have about an 8th grade reading ability and tend to forget the names of characters and things I have read earlier.  I can read shorter article but with poor comprehension.  My writing reflects my lack of reading.  But practice has improved it considerably.  Most of my writings are from what I think and have experienced throughout life, not from what I have read.

I never felt grownup until my children were in the 5th or 6th grade and I started feeling like a father at the age of about 50.  Yes I married late even by today’s standards.  Even at work I did not come into my own until my mid-fifties when I developed a new technology and received my first patent.  So if one were to ask me when I felt myself reach adulthood it wasn’t until my early to mid 50’s.  So my adolescence spanned about four and a half decades.

I have yet to reach social maturity and still feel like a lost child when with people.  I have many of the symptoms of autistic spectrum disorder though I have never been diagnosed.  I am certainly high functioning.  I avoid crowds which make me feel uncomfortably conspicuous.  I feel most comfortable with 3 or fewer people.  I simply do not know how to socialize and chit-chat.  My mind often goes blank when trying to indulge in small talk and I tend to tune out and retreat into myself.

So how did I manage to go through life with so many impairments?  Fortunately my cognitive abilities are quite sharp.  I am quite systematic in most aspects of life and have certain fixed habits for organizing life.  I depend heavily upon my computer to keep appointments and schedule tasks.  I place things in certain organized locations so I don’t have to depend so much on memory to find.  I use spell checker and Google search to spell words on this blog or look for better words to use and edit what I write many times.  I’m like a slow 286 CPU computer with only 100 megabytes of disk memory over a noisy connection and 16 kilobytes of RAM doing many error corrections.

I’m largely a loner living in my own isolated world.  That does not mean I am oblivious of what is happening in the world around me but I tend to live a relatively reclusive life and do a limited amount of socializing, mostly online where I feel most comfortable.  I force myself to occasionally socialize with people just to keep my mind more pliable but unless I am with old friends I feel like a fish out of water.  But I can be quite opinionated.  Life has largely been a struggle to compensate for all my deficiencies, for which I have developed many strategies.

I’m now in my 70’s and probably too old to progress much further.  But I can’t stop being amazed at how truly lucky I have been throughout life.  I’ve had an amazing career and have a terrific family, neither of which I had any right to expect.  I wonder in amazement at how far I have gone in spite of all the challenges life has thrown my way.  I’m like a tortoise in a storm blowing against it, very slow but extremely determined and persistent.  Staying the course has really paid off for me.  I exceeded almost all my expectations.  I sometimes wished I could have done more but that is being too greedy.  What a wonderful life.

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