Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Missing Link?

When I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome on Wednesday 31st May 2000, my mum and one or two other family members suggested that my Grandfather, on my dad's side of the family, who was born on Thursday 20th January 1921 and died of a heart attack on Saturday 25th January 1992, had Asperger's Syndrome.

I thought this was a ludicrous suggestion, and I am sure that he would have found it as ludicrous had he been alive in May 2000. A man with nine children who had an extremely trusting nature and very well-liked in the local working men's club are not the hall marks of someone with Asperger's Syndrome.

Whilst my dad's dad didn't have Asperger's, I feel it would be wrong to not mention a couple of anecdotes about him on this blog.

In early December 1986, he dyed his hair, which was white and receding, jet black! My parents heard about it, and when we visited him on Sunday 7th December 1986, told me not to laugh and to say that it was alright. I fulfilled my deal, but at the wrong time.

Before I walked into his house, I shouted out, without even seeing his hair, "I don't care what the say about your hair Grandad, I think it looks alright". An NT of that age, or a similar age, would have waited until he had seen him before making any comment. My Grandad said, when we walked in, in response, "Go on, laugh, you might as well do, everybody else has. Frank Clarke (his friend who died in 1995), has dyed his hair and he has got away with it, because he wears an hat, but can Tommy? Can he hell".

Ironically, I walked into the corner of his living room, picked up a soccer book, and sat reading it oblivious. I genuinely didn't care about his dyed hair. It didn't make me laugh. In contrast, my parents went into the kitchen, shut the door and burst out laughing. I could hear them. My Grandad, who was hard of hearing, fortunately for them, couldn't. It was some time before they came back out to speak to him. As for my Grandad, he never tried to dye his hair again!

Another time my dad's eldest sibling, was asked what he thought to my Grandad's work., who had decorated their living room with wallpaper that were a lovely summery blue and gold roses on them. My dad's brother commented "It's lovely, but there is one thing wrong". My Grandad asked what it was. His son answered, "You have hung one roll upside down". My Grandad looked and said, "So I have. Well, that is how it is and that is how it will stop, and I am not changing that now for you or anybody!". He then left it like that!

I have traced my Grandmother's family tree. She is still alive. I have gone back to 1776 on her mum's side. They all come from come from York. I have traced her dad's side of the family tree back to 1727 or 1639, depending on the identity of one person. Between the late 17th Century and 1880 they lived in the Cleckheaton, Birstall and Gomersall areas of Yorkshire, before my Grandmother's Grandfather left the area, for reasons unknown.

I have looked tentatively at my maternal Grandfather's family tree, but I won't pursue it as I don't have the time, and I don't have satisfaction, as I will do with my Grandmother, of going up to him and telling him about his family tree, as he is not here. That is why I haven't traced my paternal Grandparents family trees. My mum's dad was born on Sunday 2nd April 1916 and died of a heart attack at home on Wednesday 31st October 1973, aged only 57. He was one of eight, two of whom died as children. His ancestors are from Chesterfield and Gainsborough. His dad was very intelligent man and at school they wanted him to be a Teacher. He was born in 1882 and died in 1962 aged 80. Stopping on in further education for working-class children in those days wasn't an option, and he had to leave school at the age of 13. He became a coal miner.

Whilst my dad's late father almost certainly didn't have Asperger's, I have come across some extremely interesting information from my maternal Grandfather's side of the family. I have always wondered, if Asperger's Syndrome is genetic, why I have Asperger's Syndrome, why I was singled out and where it came from? Dyslexia runs in my family but not Autism or Asperger's. I don't have Dyslexia. Most of my cousin's are NT, some of them crushingly and overwhelingly so.

John, my Grandad's younger brother, was born in September 1920 and died in June 2001. John died just over a year after I was diagnosed. I never met John, who never married and was apparently a loner. My Grandmother said he never hung about with anyone, was always alone and that it didn't seem to bother him. She said John never seemed to have a girlfriend. About 1997, my mum saw him in a supermarket and he tried to avoid her, and clearly didn't want to speak. He put his hand at the side of his head so that she wouldn't see him.

My Grandmother also said on Saturday 10th April, 2010, that he reminded her of me a lot. My mum's sister went to his house many, many years ago and knocked on his door. He answered and asked "Who are you? What do you want?". She asked "Are you John?". He said "Yes, why?". She inquired, "Do you have a brother who lives at such and such address?". He replied, "Yes, I do, why?". She said, "I'm your niece". He said "Oh, you might as well come in then". She said he was quite a nice fellow when she actually got speaking to him but was abrupt at first.

I need to learn more about this man and his life. Where did he work? Did he work? What were his hobbies? How do other people who knew him remember him?

I have come across interesting information on my Grandmother's side of the family tree as well. My mum's cousin has a Grandson with Asperger's. Whilst my Grandmother doesn't have Asperger's herself, she has a lot of similar personality traits to myself. Neither of us like a fuss. Neither of us like being the centre of attention. Both of us are happy to be in our own company for long spells of time. Both of us hold grudges for a very long time. Both of us have long memories. Neither of us like bullshitters or braggarts or show-offs.


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