Expectations by “ABFH”

When did you first become aware that you were different? Maybe you were two years old, or three, when you noticed that the other children could do a lot of things you couldn’t. Some of them could already read. Others were doing arithmetic, playing musical instruments, or using computers. Even those who didn’t have such skills all had special interests of one sort or another, and they seemed to know a lot about the subjects of their interests. You couldn’t do any of that.

Your worried parents took you for a developmental evaluation. A psychologist, after observing your chatty demeanor and your lack of any focused interests, diagnosed you as suffering from Oversocialization Spectrum Disorder. The symptoms of this neurological disorder included preoccupation with social concerns, often resulting in the performance of dysfunctional and destructive rituals as a way of maintaining group identity, and inability to focus intensively on one interest.

Because you were only two or three years old, you didn’t understand much of this. You only knew that sometimes, after that evaluation, your parents would look at you and suddenly burst into tears.

In the hope that early intervention would help to remediate your deficits, your parents arranged for therapists to work with you in reading and arithmetic. But you weren’t developmentally ready to learn these things as a three-year-old, and you struggled and felt stupid. You got frustrated and had tantrums. You developed a few nervous habits, such as biting your nails. Then your parents started to talk about medicating you for these symptoms of your disorder.

As you grew older, you realized that you were very lucky compared to others of your neurological type, who were often subjected to painful quack treatments or even put away in institutions. But that didn’t make it any easier to deal with the bullying you endured every day when you went to school and got teased about being different and being in the special education class. News stories and fundraising solicitations often described the existence of people like you as a plague, an epidemic, a calamity, and an overwhelming burden to society. You learned that researchers were working busily to develop a cure or a prenatal test so that there would never again be any people like you in the world.

As much as you tried not to think about it, sometimes you couldn’t help but to stay awake at night worrying. When your parents noticed that you weren’t getting enough rest, they took you to the doctor to get some sleeping pills, which you took along with all the other meds that had been prescribed for your disorder. You took them without protest; by now, you thought of yourself as sick because you had been described that way for so many years.

Although your siblings were going away to college, that wasn’t an option for you. People like you struggled in college, your counselor explained, and employers couldn’t be expected to hire your sort, anyway. There wasn’t much chance you would ever get married, either. But your parents cheerfully told you that they had found a comfortable group home where you could stay for the rest of your life, with friendly staff to cook your meals and remind you to take your meds every day, and no need to make any decisions or worry about anything, ever. Wouldn’t that be nice?

You put on a happy face and agreed that, yes, it would be very nice. Then you went into your room, shut the door, and swallowed all the sleeping pills in the bottle.

And everyone blamed your suicide on your defective neurology.