Systematizing

So I’m sat with my daughter during her initial assessment for autism and she doesn’t want to be there. She doesn’t like meeting new people, doesn’t like not knowing what they’re going to ask her, knowing what she’s supposed to say. Typical autistic nightmare stuff.

Even post-pandemic they’re doing all this via Skype. My daughter says she’ll only do it if she can bring a book to look at to calm down during the assessment. It’s a Marvel comic omnibus, because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of her special interests. I figure this will be just fine with the autism assessor.

Of course it is. We talk about MCU a lot – no that’s a lie. The psychologist asks if she has any special interests and I hold the comic book to show him. (I say very little about the MCU.) My daughter then cheers up immensely talking about the films and the various TV series. I mention my daughter’s ultimate list. She has compiled a mega list of every film (including the Sony Spiderman films, I could explain, but spoilers…), every episode of every spin-off TV series (including animations and the multiverse). She has then arranged them all in chronological order along with timings for everything. So that she can she watch it all in a marathon session. She was going to do this binge-watch during half-term but there literally were not enough hours, so she’s going to do it after her GCSE exams.

This list runs to pages and pages of information. I asked her if somebody else hadn’t done it already and posted it on the internet. No. Nobody has done the entire MCU multiverse with timings – some people have done the films, or the TV shows, but no one has an ultimate list except my daughter.

“That must have taken you hours,” says the psychologist. My daughter shrugs. It was nothing.

***

I volunteer at the local village library. We have reading scheme books – you know, the ones parents borrow to help teach their children to read. Every book publisher has a different reading scheme and none of them match. One of the senior volunteers tells me to “organise them”. Do not tell an autistic person to organise something if you don’t really want it organised. She assumes I’m going to put the books into groups by publisher. I start doing this, but then I realise that the newer ones have “Book Bands” that are consistent. I put the new books in order. Then I decide I need to work out how the old books fit into the new scheme. I make one of the other volunteers cry because she doesn’t understand the system. Parents come in and are delighted, because they know what their kids are reading at school and can find books at the right level now. The senior volunteers order coloured stickers for the spines that match the book band colour. Oh joy! Now the other volunteers can easily reshelve books without crying and my new system makes sense to everyone (as long as you’re not colour blind – hey, I didn’t invent the system).

***

Austistic brains like to organise things. That’s why I work clockwise round the plate eating things in order, still, even now – hamburger first then chips; roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, carrots, peas. None of this mix stuff up together nonsense. Orderly, logically, systematically, autistically. And if you have a problem with that then you need to get out more.

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