Hello, I’m Robin Flutterby Borakove, high functioning adult with special needs, now a correspondent for SpecialNeeds.com, covering the Special Olympics World Games and other amazing events. I invite you to follow my blog and learn about my quest for self healing and improving the quality of my life.
I have learned so much throughout my journey as an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s time for me to share, and teach others how to be the best they can be even with a challenge. I will tell my story and hope the lessons I have learned will help others to enrich their lives and live their own dreams as I am now doing for myself. I tell people that I had to become my own hero, take an active part in my mental and physical well-being and save my life, because no one else was going to! So HERE I AM, getting a life, and learning how to have a positive impact and inspire those around me. Creating a character and storytelling as Fairy Queen Flutterby™, I have decided to shine brightly so other’s may have a lighted path.
Blog of a Special Needs Adult
Growing up, whenever I tried to explain my thoughts to anyone, it seemed to annoy people. In fact, whenever people spoke, I saw people’s words turn into pictures or shapes of some sort. At the time I didn’t understand why, and so it was a lot easier to tell stories about what was going on around me as a way to communicate. My grandmother told me I’m a natural born storyteller.
My earliest memories are of shapes, but as I got older, certain words took on an image of something I either saw on TV, book, or just out of my active imagination.
Metaphors were especially challenging for me. If I never hear the expression “when pigs fly” again, it will be fine. For most people, metaphors add color to a sentence. In my case, my eyes would inevitably focus on the fictitious scene and my imagination would run wild; next came the scolding for not paying attention.
When I was about four years old, it was my grandfather who first realized what was happening to me when people spoke. He asked me if I was seeing images and I confirmed his suspicion. He then did something I never forgot: he held my chin tight with his thumb and forefinger and looked me in the eye and said, “NEVER TELL A SOUL!” I was so scared that I obeyed him and never told anyone until I was 41 years old.
My father was always frustrated with me for not being able to pay attention when he spoke. He would often hold my shoulders still and tell me to stop wiggling and to “FOCUS!” This caused me to force myself to keep my shoulders and neck looking straight ahead even if my eyes would still wonder around the room. At least I could act as if I was paying close attention even when I wasn’t. To make it worse, I could not seem to stop talking. I was always interrupting my parents, teachers, siblings, etc. I remember my first husband telling me that my biggest problem was that I just liked the sound of my own voice.
Years later, I was told I was slightly autistic, that the reason I talked so much was that my voice was one of the things that soothed my nerves when I was fearful. This seemed to be a state I was in most often. When you are always afraid for the other shoe to drop, so to speak, you tend to be in fight or flight mode at all times. When things got to be too much, I would begin speaking faster and faster until someone called me out on it or until I found a way to escape the room. Usually I ended up running away until I ran into something, or could find a place to climb up as high as I could go. A tree, roof, or structure that allowed for climbing — that is wear I felt safest.
As a youngster, I was fascinated by anything living. All the animals around us, growing up on a small farm, became my pets and characters in my stories. Others were from images my mind created out of the words people around me would say. I was never without an imaginary playmate that came in the form of an over sized colorful shape representing some sort of animal or fictitious creature. Most of the time I called them fairies, other times they were monsters, animals, or made up creatures like aliens. Marvin the Martian, for example, was my favorite Warner Brothers character. He was a character I saw above the head of anyone speaking about space.
I had an extremely hard time with math. My 4th grade teacher realized I had Dyslexia and told me I could do the math, but I was writing the answers in backwards. He passed me to the next grade anyway, and it was not until my senior year in high school, that I had to do math again.
This was a big relief for me because of this: whenever I was asked to add any numbers, the number would appear in my mind on a solid white background. Then they would begin to enlarge and duplicate in my brain, which would cause me extreme anxiety. In order to relieve the anxiety, I would imagine a little man dressed in a safari outfit, with a big handle bar mustache on his face and an elephant gun in his hands. He would march out in front of the face of who ever was talking about sums, and then the little man would shoot them in the face. In my imagination only of course, I would then instantly get relief!
Sometimes my pictures helped me to find a way to cope, other times they confused the situations even more. But most of the time, when I was alone or entertaining my little brothers or neighbor children, I would use those pictures to tell stories.
My father would say I was a lousy liar, but an amazing storyteller. I also spoke obsessively in rhyme. My father encouraged me to write those rhyming stories down. My first story “Little Edwin’s Triumph” I wrote at age 7. This is the book that began it all. At age 50, I finally have it published and there are 4,ooo of these in circulation today. That might not seem like a lot, but for one storyteller getting them out one at a time over the past 2 years, it’s a really great thing. All the proceeds benefit my charity, Autism Spectrum Disorder Supports — but that is a story for next time!
In my next blog I will share how I imagined a whole world of characters that not only helped me survive childhood, but are now the basis for my children’s novels and my charity!