My grandfather on my dad's side was a very intelligent man. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a Research Chemist and worked towards that and achieved it. Similarly, my Dad also knew from an early age that he wanted to do the same. He was also very intelligent and before school he taught himself to read out of a medical encyclopaedia that happened to be lying about.
I don't think that he had much attention given to him as a child.
My grandfather was a very strange man, showing no emotion and would sit in silence for hours. I can remember being quite afraid of him when I was very young. By then he lived in a remote part of Lancashire in a farm house with his two sisters and a younger brother. They were all extremely shy people. My Dad's cousin also lived there, as she had looked after him when my grandmother had died before I was born and when he was only ten. I loved this person who I called Auntie M. She was badly disabled by Rheumatoid Arthritis and was often in great pain.
Grandfather and Auntie M had gone to live in the farm house to escape the bombing in Wallasey during the Second World War and when that was over, they stayed on, probably causing distress to the sisters and brother by doing so.
Grandfather was renowned for his disagreeable nature. In fact he used to grunt sometimes rather than answer and everyone gave him a wide berth. People used to *walk on eggshells* so as not to upset him.
My father also had this remoteness about him and he didn't like being touched. I can clearly remember as a toddler learning very quickly not to try and climb up on his knee because I would be pushed away and told to get down. I was never cuddled or picked up by him, though we have photos of him awkwardly holding me in a wooden sort of way.
I don't think he ever understood any of my needs or emotions. No..... he couldn't ever understand emotions.
Fortunately for me, my mother was quite a demonstrative person and gave me plenty of physical love. I went to her for everything and thought of her as the provider of all my needs and very rarely asked my father for anything. I think I was very confused about the extremes of their very different personalities and not having the strong role model of a father.
Can you see where this is going?
I don't think Asperger's Syndrome became known about until the '70s and so no one ever put a name to either of these men and lets face it we are all on the Autistic Spectrum to some degree. Both men were known to be Odd Bods........ eccentric people and accepted for what they were. My Dad had many strange obsessions ...... collecting things for the sake of it was one. Dad spent a lot of money on all the technical gadgets of that day, leaving us without money for adequate clothing. He just couldn't understand the need for such things as long as the body was covered. I was always so ashamed of having to wear the same things over and over again and was made fun of quite a bit at school. However my Mum could make something out of anything and I can remember her chopping up curtains to make shorts so that we could go away for a holiday. A bit like The Sound Of Music when the Van Trapps did the same.
At the time, I didn't think any of this was unusual until I started to see how other families interacted together and then I realised that our family was different. Other girls had a wonderful relationship with their fathers.
My dad just couldn't understand why I wasn't as intelligent as him. I suppose he wanted to have a daughter who carried on the Research Chemist tradition and was bitterly disappointed and after being told I was no good at his favourite subjects, I just gave up on them altogether. I wanted to be *normal* and concentrated on art and pop music and dancing and having a good time.
By the time I was married with children, he had mellowed into a really kind grandfather who my children loved but couldn't quite understand.
Even they knew he was eccentric but loved him anyway. It was quite common for them to be told to *grow up* if they had a view that was different from his and his favourite saying was..... *The man's a blithering idiot*.
So it was no surprise to me that my own children have been drawn to people with similar characteristics......... that zoomed along towards the Asperger's line. I cannot and will not say any more about this for obvious reasons.
However it has come to my notice that families seem to attract the very types into their fold, that they are trying to escape from.
Family members who have put up with a difficult family member for years, often subconsciously choose an identical partner to that very one, even though they feel there is no chance of it happening.
Alcoholics unwittingly choose other alcoholics, depressives go for other depressives and Aspergers are no exception to the rule. If there is an Aspergers person in the family you can get so used to this condition that you don't recognise the problems that are going to happen when you meet someone who has some of the traits. It is normal for them. They have been programmed to accept certain types of people. They are comfortable with that type of person. They deny that they ARE that type of person.
The Book *Families and How to Survive them* By Robyn Skynner and John Cleese puts all this in perspective beautifully. This is the book that made me aware of what was going on in my own family.
Walking on eggshells so as not to upset a volatile personality. We are very used to doing this in our household.
It is like being caught up in a loop. Our family members continually get hurt because they choose people who will not or cannot make them happy and it goes down the generations and the mistakes are made over and over again.
I sincerely hope that my grandchildren will be more aware of the lifelong misery that this can cause.... but I have a feeling that they will possibly stay in this loop unless they have help breaking out.........
We must recognise these family traits and beware of the pitfalls.
What is there in your family?