I’ve come to realize I was raised in a very autism-friendly home.
The house I grew up in was quite dark inside. There was dark brown paneling, brown carpets, and fairly dim lights. The “brighter” spots with lighter carpets and so on tended to have dark furniture that had the effect of darkening things.
My mother also didn’t put up with a lot of noise. The T.V. was kept low, the music, when played, was kept pretty low. We couldn’t run around and yell and scream. Mom didn’t put up with throwing fits. Everything was kept calm and quiet. And clean and orderly.
In other words, it was a place where, if you had sensory integration issues, you would feel comfortable.
Also, while there always seemed to be kids around at our house, my mom let me sequester myself in my room any time I wanted to get away from everything and everyone. She never insisted that I play with the other kids, even when people were over. I could always get away to my room, and my room was pretty much off limits to everyone if I wanted it to be.
There were also woods behind our house, and my parents would let me go out and walk around in them by myself. Dark, cool, and full of plants and small animals and streams–it was a perfect place for me to get away while still being outside.
I suspect my mother kept her house this way and was so understanding about my need to get away from others and have time to myself because I suspect she had Asperger’s herself. Unfortunately, she died in May of 2001 from mesothelioma, so she never found out I have Asperger’s and she never got to meet any of my children. I didn’t even know my wife at the time, and I suspect she wondered if I was ever going to marry and have children, seeing as I was almost 30 when she died.
I also suspect my mother’s father also had Asperger’s. He seemed to have all the traits, and in the same way that I can relate to my son best, he seemed to relate to me best among his grandchildren, and my mother best among his own children. He liked to keep things orderly and quiet, and he needed time to himself as well. And his job as Asperger’s perfect–he was a computer expert in the 1950s and ’60s!
It may be the case that my mother, because of all the inadvertent support and ideal environment she provided me, actually managed to mask most of my autistic symptoms from me and the world for a long time. The strange things I did weren’t considered strange. The home environment was ideal. Autistic behavior was practically considered normal. And I thrived.
Until after graduate school, anyway.