Autism Unveiled Week 1
Who am I and how is autism part of me?
I was born in Wales, UK, about six months before the end of the Second World War, into a bred family bloodline of ‘parfait savants’ dating back to the Norman Conquest of Anglo Saxon Britain in 1066. We were descended from the ‘Squires of the Shires’ that became William the Conqueror’s County Surveyors in 1086 by surveying the shires in Britain that became the allodial real estate of King William and had maintained that traditional role, until the break out of the First World War.
I am the last of that bloodline to have qualified and dedicated myself to that profession, so I now own the internet domain of the County Surveyors Society, and am the proprietor, chief executive and managing director of the society’s business arm, County Surveyors Society International Ltd. I am therefore developing it as a platform to help people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in particular, cope with the idiosyncrasies of those conditions, as that has been the social role of the society since its inception by William, as the Guild of Freemasons in Engle-land, was Anglo Saxon, and did not therefore accommodate Anglo Normans.
Of course, the conditions were not known as Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in those days, but they were clearly recognized as mental aberrations, by being referred to as ‘savant’, be it ‘parfait savant’ or ‘idiot savant’. These are terms used by my parents and extended family and my school teachers, about me, before I was medically diagnosed as autistic, at the age of five.
I make the point because the rules of Freemasonry, as far as I know, preclude someone with any kind of mental disability from becoming a Freemason. But Asperger’s Syndrome was not officially deemed a mental disability until the United Nations World Health Organisation International and Statistical Classification of Diseases edition #10 was published in 1992. It heralded the end of the profession of county surveying in Wales (1996) and England (1997) but I was asked to stay on to nurse a regeneration project I had begun in 1960, but which had until 2010 to run.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 1994, to my very great surprise, but it was like a light was switched on in my head and my work performance rocketed to such a remarkable extent that I was asked to start coaching and counseling colleagues who had been diagnosed with it. And I was promoted three years running until I was the highest paid county surveyor in my speciality.
As more and more of my colleagues were diagnosed, and began cracking up as the diagnosis put our job security at risk. I helped negotiate ‘golden handshake’ terms of severance for them and saved a good number from suicide, so after the exodus of 1996 and 1997 I was asked to coach and counsel suicidal auties and aspies from all walks of life and have been doing that pro bono ever since.
When I eventually retired from county surveying, I wrote an essay setting out the narrative / theory of everything whereby I had been making sense of my worlds of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and places in them. It took more than four years as it entailed a great deal of belly-button gazing – but I persevered, and published it as a trilogy and compendium, which became Amazon Bestsellers in my genre / niche overnight in the UK and globally in another week.
I informed Arianna Huffington of this, and she invited me to have a ‘voice’ on the Huffington Post, which I accepted, so within five years of my retirement as a county surveyor, I already have added Amazon Bestselling Author in niche and Featured Blogger on Huffington Post to my curriculum vitae. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-adrian-thomas-esq-mciht/
In the course of all this, I discovered that the most significant reason for auties and aspies suicide ideating was their difficulties in getting on with state education systems. I had been the same and my extended family had countered it by pre-schooling, home-schooling and special-educational-needs schooling me privately. I still had the books that they had bought me for this purpose. But they were more than a half a century out of date and need updating for anyone else to use them.
Therefore, I discussed with a business adviser of my national government and a business mentor, the prospect of my setting up a not-for-profit business to remedy this. They said to draw them up a business plan to consider, checked it over, and said it was a good idea, but had ‘missed the boat’ in terms of grant aid as the year’s budget allocation had already been committed.
So I wrote a trilogy of speculative historical novellas to add to my portfolio of books for sale, and currently I’m in the process of writing a compendium of the stories in a form that adolescent and adult auties with classic autism might be able to read, or at least understand if read to them. It is quite a challenge, as the language development process of people with classic autism hits buffers when they get to about the age of three.
However, it will be good practice for me, as I’m going to have to pitch some if not all my updating work on my old pre-schooling, home-schooling and special-educational-needs-schooling books.
I have commissioned an autie/aspie editor to act as my critical reviewer to ensure that I adhere to the design rules I have given myself. No word shall be more than six letters long. No sentence shall be more than six words long. No paragraph shall be more than six sentences long. No section shall be more than six paragraphs long. No chapter shall be more than six sections long. No act shall be more than six chapters long. And no book shall be more than six acts long.
It has been quite a traumatic experience arriving at those design rules, as I have a verbal IQ of 135. But to avoid the repetitive pattern becoming soporific, I tried formatting it as a poetry of stanzas, having no rhyme or rhythm. And it looks great and even reads great so far according to my autie / aspie editor. I have a couple of graphics artists lined up also, in case the text needs illustrations to give light relief or better understanding, but that will have to wait until I get some grant aid. And I may even have a go at doing some illustrations myself as I was a talented artist in my youth. It’s a labour of love and I so enjoy doing it. Then I can add artist to my retirement curriculum vitae!
David Adrian Thomas, Esq., M.C.I.H.T.. 69, Wales, U.K.
Proprietor, CE and MD of County Surveyors Society International Limited Company Incorporated
David writes for the Huffington Post
David is part of the six-week advocacy project Autism Unveiled Project culminating on World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, 2015.
THANK YOU for this post — I feel like so many of us who are gifted spend a lot of energy “passing.” I’m overjoyed, truly, to read this post, and it confirms my ever-growing instinct to be myself and encourage my son to do the same.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, David, SIR!
Full Spectrum Mama, Ph.D., Professor, Writer, Editor, Mother, Wife, Gardener (Obsessive)…
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